Jelly Ghosts and Future Hosts

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Tuesday, June 22, 2010

We woke at about 06:45, quick shower then breako. After practicing our French again with a couple we shared our table with each day (him a Quantity Surveyor in Paris, her a teacher in Toulousse) he had to check out of our room and prepare for our showdown argument over the service charge. We were told the service charge would be US12$ or about 8 pound for buying a bottle of Vodka (and the beers we bought as well) so we initially refused to pay. I had a right good winge at the guy and there seemed to be little movement at first.

After confirming we would be taking this up with the booking agent and having a brief row (the Vietnamese guys involved all of a sudden could hardly speak English so we couldn't argue too much (surprising that) the bill came down to $5US. We then made a counter offer of about 40k dong made up in small notes so it looked like more (about 1.60 which they begrudgingly accepted). Still I suppose that was less than a beer from their bar so we shouldn’t complain too much. I think the thing that grated more than anything was the big deal that had been made every time we asked for a coke they asked if this was for 'wine’ aka vodka rice wine. At one point they refused to serve Sonia with a tonic water and refused to give her ice (they had a small amount of contraban on board from the land) but to be fair they were a different kettle of fish as they had spent probably twice as much money as everyone else on the boat together from the bar so it was very poor form to make an issue with them. Erica’s favourite bit was when I started to get a bit more aggressive and told the guide I would be cancelling our booking for Sapa with the company and would site this as being the reason, I then said the whole issue left a very sour taste in my mouth (oooh nasty!!!) (something we probably wouldn’t have understood and we probably thought this was a huge insult).

We finally caved in to the flight from Hanoi to Luang Prabang the travel agent could get it 30$ cheaper than we could book it online (note to anyone travelling on a budget somehow reputable travel agents in Vietnam can do just about anything cheaper than you can do independently hence the reason we have had organised trips to the Mekong, Halong, and Sapa. While some of the tours are a little frustrating with lots of stops at souveneir filled services and lots of lunch breaks etc. You still get to see a lot more a lot quicker and a bit cheaper than trying to do it all on your own.

Anyway we said our goodbyes and promised to meet up with the guys in Cairns for a few days when we are out in Aus and allow them to charge us a service charge for bringing them a bottle of gin. We then continued to cruise around the limestone islands which were beautiful before finally returning back to Halong City. A quick bit of lunch and then we got the bus back to Hanoi before our night train to Sapa another night of minimal sleep perhaps?

Erica continued to chat to our friendly Bosnian Australian doctor. Before we turn nice and soppy let me just say that today Erica got told about a story when she was visited by ghosts who got into her bed and she actually felt the ghost and it felt like Jelly, she then pushed it out of bed and it flew off through the window. Dr Kyaw (our GP) now seems completely normal and next time he says "morning Matthew how is the computer business" I will tell him its fine and smile politely. Anyway the lady had been through so much in her life I think we were a bit harsh with yesterdays write up.

She really is an incredible lady who's last comment to us was that she was going to make a collage called love, this piece would centre around a picture of Erica and I and if we had an issue with Intellectual Property theft we could "Get F******" you have an aura that exudes love. Then again she is famous as being the only doctor in Australia who has a giant sculpture of a penis in her office, yes she sculpts, paints, writes poetry, makes tapestries, brings up her son on her own, looks after her staff and worries about work all the time etc. She also said that she would love to meet up with us and if we do we can live with her in Canberra. While we swapped details with the Aussie Aussies (Col and Sonia), The Bosnian Aussie explained "Darlings, life is a journey and I think fate plays a huge part in that so if we meet again it can not be prearranged we will know that if we meet, I was meant to either have a message for you or to help you in some way". With that she was gone, another person who we can never forget... Oh by the way we don't even know her name!! What an odd experience.

Back to Hanoi and a quick walk around the ring shops (shared with China) Hanoi seems to have a 'silver street', a 'sunglasses street', a 'book street' and a 'clothes street' so every shop is selling the same stuff in huge competition, we still don't get it.

A quick burger in the Kangaroo Cafe and a quick five pints before we went to the cafe to find our bags and jump the train to Sapa. We ended up spending about 30 minutes chatting to the guy in the office while Erica showed him the blog and I slept in a chair.

The train was lovely, our first ever soft sleeper and it was all wooden with a tiled floor. We shared the cabin with two Vietnamese people but after halving the price of the booze from the woman on the platform we had one more can each and I think we were asleep within two minutes of the train leaving.
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