13 June 2011 – The Start

Flight from Darwin to Ho Chi Minh City was fairly late (6:50pm)  so spent most of the morning at the beach in front of the deck chair cinema with Anna doing my dreads.  They look much better for it.
Around 4ish we went to the airport after a few last drinks in Darwin.  Not too bad going through customs and immigration, although the smoking section in the airport had been closed off, which was quite annoying, as the international section is very small, and there is nothing interesting there.  Although you can buy water for $3.50 (it’s the same as we sell at Mimili for 50c!)

The flight was called and boarded easily.  It was jetstar, so no expectations.  Not too bad a flight.  The plane was only half full, so we could spread out, and had a row each.  The chairs were fairly comfortable, but if you stretched out and tried to lie down, the ridges that separated the seats was a pain.  Again, it was very expensive water, and didn’t even ask about the food or drinks.  The sandwiches we made before came in handy though.
On arrival the airport seems to be in the centre of the city, and you are flying past houses all the way to the runway, but not nearly as bad as the old Hong Kong airport.  Crisp clear and clean terminal, although the very few shops were closed.  Not surprising considering it was about 9:30 when we landed.  Got to visa section, and found out that we were in the wrong section, as we hadn’t gotten our visa yet.  We had a letter of introduction, that we had organised before we left, but had to go to a different section to get the visa.  That wasnt too bad.  Hand over the passports, fill out a form, and wait for about 1/2 hour.  Name called, pick up passport and go through immigration.  Quite painless really.

When we were exiting the building, there was a massive crowd of teenagers.  I have never had that many teenage girls screaming at me.  Apparently some rock band was expected.  Managed to force our way through them, and found a spot where I could have a smoke, and the obligatory taxi man came up offering his services.  Its late, and we couldn’t be bothered working out the rules first, so he became our cabbie.  Cost us $700,000 dong for the taxi trip to the hotel, and then he hit us up for another $250,000 dong for the freeway.  Outch,  Turned into an expensive trip.  Au$50 to get to the hotel!

The trip was fairly good.  Lam, the taxi driver was a bit talkative, but we were tired.  The roads were still fairly busy, with a lot of bikes, and although we expected it, and have been in asia, it is still a shock when the road rules apply to everyone else but your taxi driver.  Lines are there to look at, and who cares if that light is red?  It does look like fun being on a bike here though.  The buildings we were passing were a mix of old colonial, run down slums, and new shiny garish hotels and cafe’s.

We had booked the room before we had left.  Seemed like a deal.  Good sized room, good location, and a reasonable price.  Give it its due, it is clean.  It is also a lot smaller than the photos online.  The staff are nice and friendly, and it is in a good location.
Not wanting to hit the mini bar too hard as we don’t know the prices, we went for a quick walk to the night market.  It was also to escape the smell of Durian, which had slithered out of the room next to us, and insinuated itself in our room. For those of you that don’t know, Durian is a fruit that is really popular in a lot of Asia, but it stinks.  Really Stinks.  i mean it STINKS!  No it’s not that bad, its worse.  And then you have to try eating it!  Once is enough in my lifetime.  I still have taste buds that never recovered, and it was in the 90’s

Found the night markets, but by this time it was around midnight, so there wasnt much.  Lots of clothing, jewelery, bags, shoes etc.  All you expect in an asian market.  Got a bottle of water for back at the hotel.  $10,000 dong or 50c  Yay,  Cheep water.  and it was bigger than the 50c water we sell at Mimili.

Came back, cracked open the 50c coke we bought as well, opened the duty free rum, and typed this out for everyone.  Only problem was, we forgot to pack an international adapter.

Love to you all from both of us.

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