Tąm BįÍt (Tam Be-Yet)
Ending my last blog with the passport episode on Saigon airport meant that I was beginning my journey homewards again. I usually mention the name Saigon as this a name is known by most people outside Vietnam. Since the reunification of North and South Vietnam in the mid 70's the city was re named Ho Chi Min City. My blog’s interface only recognises this name. People refer to the city by both names. Leaving Vietnam for the fourth time I don’t have to ask myself IF
I will ever return here but rather WHEN I will return. During this trip nothing went to plan. My idea was to get a motorcycle and venture straight north passing through Cambodia into Laos and entering Vietnam from the far north, but nothing came even close
. Instead I rekindled and strengthened old friendships and found new friends both Vietnamese and fellow travellers who I want to stay in touch and can lead to future new encounters and adventures. I am always surprised what life throws at me. You plan a day, a week or something else. Then you meet someone in the street, cafeteria or museum who exchanges a few words and give you some pointers where to go or what to see which in turn will change your entire day and steers your life into a totally unexpected direction. Expect the unexpected will be something you have to think about each morning.
Other than a holiday I have a tip for visiting Vietnam. During my stay I had some eyeglasses made. First of all a set of prescription sunglasses with a reading part at the bottom so I can read my GPS is clearly visible instead of being a blurry mess. As I use the glasses with my helmet I want the frame to strong but thin at the sides. And while I was at the shop I got some proper reading glasses made to replace my $5 ones I had purchased at a local supermarket a year ago. All was measured up in the morning and collected at night. The bill? $42.00
After arriving back from Phu Quoc I had two days left. As I had a good experience at a dentist last year in Hanoi I thought it would be to my advantage to get my teeth checked
. In Vietnam dentists run their business as a shop so you can see right in through the plate glass window and see their equipment and other facilities. I had four fillings done and as other fillings showed colour variations decided to get a whitening treatment. The whole deal took two hours The Bill $112.00. When I walked out of the dentist I walked across the road to a barber shop. Now something went wrong here. I think we had a misunderstanding or something went off beam in the translation. I asked how much a haircut was, the man said 40.000 Vietnam Dong. Eh… Ok that $2.00. So I got a haircut. When that was finished they got a cut throat raiser to shave my neck and sides. With the press of a button my chair was placed in an almost horizontal position. A girl took over and was handed the blade. I now received an old fashion shave (twice). Meanwhile some other girl grabbed my hand and cleaned and cut my nails. When all was done I was placed on another lay back chair to get my hair washed while my toe nails were being seen to. Back in the charge I received a facial mask while they blow dried my hair, massaged my shoulders and back with some electrical vibrating contraption. All was finished off with some hair tonic and other smelly stuff. I think the whole episode took an hour. The Bill $12.00. That is $3 less than getting my 6 minute haircut done at my usual place at home.
Any young readers: Are you planning a wedding and do all the bridesmaids needs special clothing, not forgetting the bride and groom? Take pictures or drawings of what you want and take everyone’s measurements
. Fly to the town of Hoi An where there are streets with up to 30 tailors who will make the lot in say 4 days. Meanwhile you have weeks holiday and enjoy the $5 massages and $7 three course meals in upmarket restaurants. All will cost you a hell of a lot less than getting it done locally and you have a free holiday (and that includes airfares) My heavy duty motorcycle jacket needed a new zip. I went to a few places here at home to get a quote to get it fixed. In the first two shops they said that they couldn’t do it as the material was too heavy. Then I was directed to a place where they work with canvas, and yes, they could do it for…. $60. Yes right mate! I took the jacket with me to Vietnam, walked into the first tailor shop I saw. The old lady had an ordinary sewing machine and just nodded her head. That night I picked it up and all was done in a perfect way for…$4.00
So…if you need reason to go to Vietnam – here are a few of them. As I said before this is a great country with lovely people.
So this is the end of this journey. See you again in a few weeks, a new adventure in a new location: Southern Africa
- Vietnamese for “Good Bye”.