How I Almost Didn’t Get to Vietnam

Travelling always sounds easy, but there are always things that go wrong. Apart from the strangest border crossing from Vietnam to Cambodia (which I will tell you about in another blog post), I also had a pretty hideous start in Vietnam!

How I Almost Didn't Get to Vietnam

It all started off pretty bad with Vietnam. I was on the most beautiful island in Indonesia (read all about my fab time here) and completely forgot to apply for a visa for Vietnam. (I had already booked my flights for in 3 days though!) So I applied for an emergency visa through an agency that was recommended by a girl I’d met. Thankfully it wasn’t a sketchy one that takes your money and does nothing and I had the 1-month visa in my mailbox 4 hours later! I printed it off at the hostel two nights before my flight to Singapore where I stayed for one night before heading on to Hanoi.

Hanoi 25

Well, at least that was the plan! I got to Singapore airport around 6 a.m. as my flight was at 7:30 a.m. and queued for the check-in. Half asleep I could see the couple in front of me checking in for the same flight. The girl who checked them in was then approached by a co-worker and I just heared the word ‘onward flight’ and thought ‘F***!!!’. I went to the check in desk, gave that same girl my passport and boarding number. She then looked at me and asked me if I had booked a flight out of Vietnam. Of course I hadn’t because I had planned on crossing into Cambodia by bus as it was a lot cheaper.

Hanoi - Street Scene

Then came the words of horror: ‘Sorry I can’t let you check in unless you have a flight out of Vietnam’. Soooooo, I basically had no other choice than to book a $140 flight from Ho Chi Minh to Pnomh Penh. I went into a corner and tried to connect to the airport Wi-Fi. Do you know how everyone always raves about Singapore Airport? Well their Wi-Fi is rubbish! I just couldn’t get through to enter my credit card details as the site would always crash.

Dalat

After half an hour of trying and almost seeing my flight going without me, I was devastated. I asked the lady at the helpdesk for what to do and she was kind enough to share her data with me via a hotspot. I quickly booked that flight and made it to the gate just in time!

Hanoi - Street Scene 2

Exciting story so far, right? Well it’s not quite over yet. I had read before that you need to pay for the Visa upon Arrival in Vietnam and I had just thought that there would be an ATM there to take money out. Turns out there wasn’t! So whilst I was franctically searching for a place to get money out, someone told me that it’s ok to pay in other currencies.

Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

I had exactly 30 Singapore Dollars left and the visa was 36. I couldn’t believe the bad luck I had that day. Thankfully, the guy in front of me also paid in Singapore Dollars and gave me 6. I paid the money, filled out a form that I had forgotten about and waited for another 30 minutes to have my picture taken.

Hanoi - Street Scene 1

That whole visa procedure took around 2 hours and when I collected my bag, I was greeted by a rather grumpy driver from the hostel who had just waited for a loooong time to pick me up.

Ha Long Bay

Fast forward 2 weeks later when I was on the beautiful Cat Ba Island (more here) in the quiet season and went to a restaurant with a few people from the hostel. Who was sitting at a table in the same restaurant? The guy from the airport who gave me 6 Singapore Dollars! At least I got to repay him with a drink now. Like I always say, it’s never goodbye, it’s always ‘See you later!’

 

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