Oh, and being robbed. But I’ll get to that.
The photo at the top of the page is my room, by the way. I’ve been here long enough and kind of claimed part of it as my own. You may take a wild guess as to which bed is mine. The rest are from the back of a bike on the way back from Blue Dragon to Hoan Kiem lake. I’m somewhat used to the trips now, so taking snaps willy nilly while on the back of one of these
deathtraps convenient modes of transport seemed like a good idea. I may try and take a short video of a ride through rush hour sometime.
The last week’s been a bit of a chill-out to be honest. The sunburn is now slowly peeling off to the point where Max no longer goes “GAH! IAIN!” every time I get off one of the chairs downstairs and leave flaky souvenirs.
The weather has followed its usual pattern of being completely the opposite of what the BBC claims it is. The last three days have been torrentially rainy, but still nicely warm. Waking home at 2am in the rain, drenched and still comfortable temperaturewise with no hint of a chill is very relaxing! I know the UK needs a few thunderstorms to clear the air. Enjoy them when they arrive!
OK, well on Thursday night a bunch of us went out for a couple of beers. The hostel was full and buzzing. A great collection of people from all over, so we headed for the usual Bia Hoi and arrived in small groups. Eventually there were maybe 15 of us sat around chatting and having a great time. When they closed shop, we walked a few doors up to the “Red Mask” bar, which was pleasant enough and after an hour someone suggested a club they’d heard about called “New Century”.
By this point I was nicely pliable and we all jumped on bikes to get there (I talked mine right down to less than anyone else – I’m getting good at this haggling lark). Upon arrival we encountered the Vietnamese version of the bouncer – a man in uniform who wouldn’t let us in because two of our group were wearing shorts.
We protested – and offered to bribe him – but he refused until the manageress appeared and told us “this time!” probably because we were foreign and therefore had money.
The club itself was absolutely not my type of place. THUMP THUMP dance music, Vietnamese women who were very interested in having me buy them drinks and devoid of all atmosphere. Despite a heaving dancefloor (the place was packed) there were maybe 20 people actually dancing.
Regardless, we stayed there for a couple of hours and decided it was hometime at around 4am. Stumbling outside, we realised that although we were close to the hostel we didn’t have a clue exactly where we were, so we flagged down a cab.
About 4 corners and maybe three city blocks later, the cab stopped. I knew we were close, but not that close!
As I exited the cab, a Vietnamese woman lurched out of the dark telling me things like “me love you” and “you come with me” while she grabbed parts of my anatomy that I reserve for very private moments, even going so far as to undo my trousers. I battled her off, but as soon as I stepped into the hostel I realised it wasn’t that package she had been after.
My wallet was gone.
Now, I’m not completely stupid. Thankfully, I only carry the bare minimum of cards and the like with me so all my credit cards and my spare cashcard were safely locked in the hostel. My YHA card was replaced (free of charge) by Max once I realised that had gone. But I had that very day withdrawn the cash needed to pay my accomodation bill to date. Roughly 3 million dong. Give or take, after the money I’d spent that night, £100. Plus about £30 in Singapore dollars. And 20 Baht. OK, that’s not much, but it’s the principle. And then there was my bus ticket from Auckland airport to the city centre. Again, not much, but the principle. Oh, and my passport photos so I need some more of them done for my visa renewal.
It’s all these little things. The cash is just cash. It’s gone. I only hope she buys some really dodgy drugs with it and dies an awful, painful death in the gutter. I’m not the forgiving type. The inconvenience is minor as I did have the forethought to separate my cards and the like, but it does mean until I get my replacement card I can’t move on, so I’m now in Hanoi for at least a week longer than I intended. The Nationwide told me “7 to 10 working days” to get the card to my parents’, who then need to send it on to me. When I get it, I’ll have to call a number to activate it and Skype currently seem hard-set on making it as near impossible as they can for me to add credit to my account.
However, my faith in human nature has been restored over the following days. Two girls I didn’t know bought me lunch the next day. A guy from Singapore loaned me enough to go out that night and have dinner and a few beers. An expat at Barracuda bought me a couple of beers. Another girl loaned me enough to buy some food at the supermarket (including some “Jam Donuts” which were lacking one of the named ingredients – the jam; and some “Ham Buger” rolls – interesting misprint). Max at the hostel offered me a free loan until I was sorted for cash, as did Mike from Blue Dragon.
To all of them – thank you. The cash loans have now been paid back and when the girls get back from their Sapa trip tonight I will repay the favour and get them dinner. It took just over a day to transfer money from one account into another, but I now have plenty to do me until the cashcard arrives.
In a money-saving bid, and because the rain’s been unreal, I have spent some time in the balcony bar watching DVDs. Yesterday was a challenge as the rain was so heavy at one point that despite having the volume on full and only being a few feet from the TV, the soundtrack was inaudible. For the record, Doom is passable, Starsky and Hutch has its moments and Dodgeball is way better than I thought it would be and heartily recommended. I’ll keep my eyes open for Miami Vice and Snakes On A Plane over the next week or so.