Communication challenges, flies and sticky heat

Trip Start Sep 18, 2010
Trip End Jul 27, 2011

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Where I stayed
Vinh Phuoc Hotel & Restaurant Chau Doc
Read my review - 2/5 stars

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Saturday, March 19, 2011

Today (March 19, 2011) is my 6-month anniversary of being on the road. Wow! My last day in Vietnam, I am off to the Mekong Delta and after an overnight stay will be taking a boat back to Phnom Penh in Cambodia.

Over breakfast at NGA Hoang hostel (one of my favourites on this trip by the way), I notice that the staff does not react to 'hello' or ‘excuse me’ when you need their attention. But they will look up if they hear one of these 4 words: Coffee, tea, scrambled, fried. The challenge remains that unless you actually want one of those things, any further communication attempts are futile. This is the way one tries to communicate with Vietnam (and most neighbouring countries in fact) and its service industry. So my next two days' trip experience is a result of just another communication battle.

The Mekong Delta day trip is little more than a promotional trip with too many stops at local ‘production’ facilities you can shop at or lunch spots you can buy souvenirs at or loo breaks you can also shop at. At the end of the trip, I am to be put into another bus to take me to the port town of Chau Doc for the night. I don’t understand what all the yelling and stressing is about or why my tour guide keeps saying "Oh my god, oh my god,..". Turns out he somehow messed up and the bus I was to change to had taken off without me. He nervously runs around, trying to find a local bus to put me on. About 30 minutes later, I find myself jammed in a minibus, on a small plastic stool, one person standing (or rather crouching) in front of me. I guess I took his seat. This is how I am supposed to travel the 6 hour distance? Seems I am up for another transit adventure.

I make a fuss, but really I am getting a kick out of these wack rides. On the bus there is a TV screen above the driver’s row. They are showing ‘Celebrity Dancing’, a Vietnamese / part English version of ‘Dancing With The Stars’. The professional dancers are international, some I know from ‘So You Think You Can Dance’. The amateurs are local celebrities. I love it! Me and the lady next to me are practically leaning on each other so we can both see the screen.

My adventure-ism fades a bit when I arrive at my hotel. The city and the hotel are filled with clouds of flies, like I have never experienced before. You can barely breath through them and swatting is pointless. Thankfully, my room is mostly fly-less. What it does offer (in lieu of flies?) are cigarette burns on the sheets, plastic flowers and questionable stains on the walls. The soap package is empty and instead there is a condom (a fresh one that is!) next to the empty soap wrapper. My room has three double beds, yet it’s not a dorm. Interesting. I catch up on Chau Doc in my Lonely Planet and learn that this Vinh Phuoc Hotel is the first place listed there. It is so hot here, I don’t even turn the water heater on. Anyone who has ever travelled with me will gasp at reading that. Yes, that’s how hot! I apply what I learned in 9 years in Canada, am a business-y, service-demanding b*^#tch and manage to get the remote to the room’s AC without paying extra. Score!
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