Would the Real Slim Architect Please Stand Up?

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m back in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam for a few days. I landed late afternoon – that’s 5.30pm – on Tuesday and decided to go with my usual routine: politely but also angrily avoid all salespeople that pop up like bees around something sweet on my way to the currency exchange desk, exchange my Thai Baht to Vietnamese Dong (apparently not enough), head out to the taxi stands through hundreds of humans, avoid those salespeople lurking outside looking to rip a foreigner off of an expensive, detouring cab ride, get a legit cab and head to my hotel, recharge my batteries (both physical and electronic), head out for something to eat, and then head back home to my hotel room where I’d be a good human and plan my tomorrow.

That’s usually a great routine and a solid plan.

Annoyingly, things haven’t gone according to plan. I got a decent, friendly-looking and non-cunning driver who seemed to (and did) take the shortest and easiest route to my hotel. We eventually arrived to my destination, and I gave him some of my Dongs and I was expecting to get some of those Dongs back since I gave him more Dongs than the receipt said. He looked at me in disgust and grunted, “tip”, to which I replied, “change”, and pointed like a caveman towards my money that rested in his Vietnamese palms. Instead of giving me my proper, full change back, he decided to give himself a little tip and give me a smaller amount of change back than I should’ve had. Had he just given me my change back, I would have happily tipped him. Hell, I might’ve even let him keep all the change, which certainly had made me feel a lot happier and less robbed than I feel now. I’m also quite sure that deep within, he’d also much more appreciate someone tipping him for being a nice driver, than just stealing part of somebody’s change just because. It’s not so much about the amount – that’s really not important here – it’s that good-old principle. This article comes to mind.

A few moments later, I enter my hotel room. Now, I’m not especially picky on these trips, and I don’t demand anything luxurious on my stays here. I don’t give a shit about a nice view, a balcony, room service or anything like that. I don’t even care if my room has a window or not.

By the way, quick side note: in my experience from the hotels in Vietnam, when they say the room has windows, you kind of expect some sort of outside view…right? I’ve paid extra to get a room with a window on a few occasions, and that has only made me sarcastically laugh to myself when I discover that the windows (if there’s more than one) are only 10cm wide and 1m long, facing the alley in between houses, where the only thing to be seen is the fire escape, which is good in case I ever need to use it. Continue reading “Would the Real Slim Architect Please Stand Up?”

The Height of Idiocy

I am officially the world’s worst planner. Not only that, I’m also a strong contender for the gold medal in the World’s Worst Executioner of Bad Plans competition.

Let me explain:

I’m back in Saigon, Vietnam since yesterday, for one of my business trips I regularly go here for. This time, however, I have some other errands to attend to. I have to be at the Thai-General Consulate to sort out some paperwork, and I had prepared everything in advance before my arrival here, which is a major accomplishment for the complete bonehead that is me.

So after a very mediocre breakfast at my hotel, I put on my fancy clothes and headed out to the busy street outside, jumped into a cab, and shouted “TO THE THAI-GENERAL CONSULATE, STAT!” to the cabby.

I arrive there, feeling fresh and smooth as hell after a very pleasant and air-conditioned cab ride, start to complete my paperwork, which I had started to complete back in Bangkok, but not finished, with a red ballpoint pen. They didn’t have that colour here, so I had to settle for the standard blue version. I danced my way up to the lady behind the counter, handed her all my paperwork, documents and letters, only to discover that they couldn’t process any applications written with a red colour. I’m not sure about that though, it could also be that they don’t accept applications written in multiple colours, looking like a colour-blind 4-year-old had written it. So I had to write a new one from scratch, in blue. Congratulations to me. I somersaulted my way back to the lady, gave her my updated stuff, only to realise I had forgotten my passport back in the hotel reception.

“FUCK!”, I yelled, while I was struggling to maintain a calm, cool surface. I headed back to the hotel, grabbed my vital travelling document, and headed back to the consulate as quickly as I could, now frustratingly sweaty despite the air-con in the cab. Continue reading “The Height of Idiocy”

That One Time I Got Hit on by a Vietnamese Man Twice

It’s a small world.

That expression has never ever been any more true than it is right now. So true, that I have to take a break from my duties to write this short post.

In May, I was on my routinely business trip to Saigon, and I was walking down the street one evening looking for a place to eat. Looking very foreign, touristy and lost – all at the same time (I guess all tourists look like that when I think about it) – I was standing in an intersection, looking in all four directions, on a quest to find a potentially delicious restaurant. Almost like I’m being watched, I turn around and find this Vietnamese dude creeping inside a restaurant, snapping pictures of me on his phone. When realising he’s been busted and caught red-handed, he laughs and comes out to me to apologise. Or something.

Immediately, it becomes very clear that this is a very femininely homosexual Vietnamese 20-something man. Just to be clear, I have no issues with this at all, but as it turns out, he was taking pictures of me because he adored my foreign, Nordic looks. I guess I should feel kind of flattered. I dunno.

Anyway, we spoke for a while, and I told him that creeping up on strangers, taking paparazzi-like photos of them is usually not appreciated by the victim, but I cut him some slack and “forgave” him. Since I’m such a nice guy, we chatted for a few minutes, I went in and had some soup, and I took off as soon as I finished my meal.

This was the first time I can remember being hit on by a gay man.

The second time was today. Like, just now. Continue reading “That One Time I Got Hit on by a Vietnamese Man Twice”

Freaky Cab Rides

Strange.

When I arrived at the airport the other day, and took the taxi to my hotel, the fare was, if I’m not being senile here, approximately 400 000 DONG (18.5 USD). That’s relatively expensive, especially since I used to pay around 200-250K from the airport to the hotel I used to stay at on other visits here. Also, after thoroughly and intensely studying the layout of Saigon on Google Maps, I noticed that the differences in distance from the airport to the respective hotels didn’t justify the difference what the taxi driver wanted for the ride. I suspect that I got ripped off by the friendly, but also cunning, driver.

I now know that I got ripped off, since I just arrived at the airport from the same hotel, and now, the fare was 130 000 (+10 000) DONG. The 10K in the parenthesis is due to some kind of airport fee – which is totally legit. I think.

Continue reading “Freaky Cab Rides”

Evening Events

Continuing to vent to no one else but myself, I am now on my 5th post in little over a week. That’s a pretty good pace, if you ask me. Time will tell if this experiment of mine is just a short-lived one, or something I will gladly continue to do.

So far, this is just kind of a new-found fun hobby of mine, something to pass time with, and, of course, a way to procrastinate.

Another word for procrastinate is, apparently, shilly-shally. Even though that word is absolutely ridiculous, it’s a good example of my superior judgement to have this blog in English instead of my native language. The English language simply has a larger vocabulary, which makes it easier to write and use versatile and ridiculous adjectives.

Needless to say, I discovered shilly-shally while procrastinating to continue to write this post.

*

Yesterday evening, I headed out of my hotel in Saigon to have some dinner. I’m here on a business trip for a few days, and I’m travelling alone. I really don’t mind travelling alone, because it forces you to be more open to your surroundings and confront it all by yourself. You really grow as a person, if only travelling for a short time.

This is my 3rd trip here in as many months, and the first two times I stayed at the same hotel. I chose that one based on a combination of:
–location
–price
–reviews

I had a nice stay there. The staff was polite, they spoke English well enough, their breakfast was at least edible, and they, much to my delight, had an iron for me to use to iron my shirts. Also, the immediate vicinity had it all – a convenience store, some restaurants with good reviews, and not too many salespeople, shoe-shiners, or motorbike-taxi drivers who don’t want to do anything else in their lives, other than to sell you a ride, even though you frustratedly explain that you’re just going four meters to that store right there. They’re an insisting and pride-lacking crowd. Continue reading “Evening Events”

Dates

I’m currently enjoying a hollow cup of tasteless coffee from Starbucks in Vietnam, where they serve arguably the best coffee in the world (in Vietnam, not Starbucks).

It’s really amazing.

So, I don’t really know why I came to Starbucks to have some elixir, since their coffee really is subpar compared to the local option. I guess what attracted me here was the WIFI, not so much the coffee. Also, the possibilities to charge both my laptop and my phone were significant. Had the local coffee places here offered me a quick fix on my battery issues, I’d be sitting there sipping on some delicious Vietnamese coffee*, instead of the all too average equivalent that Starbucks have. It’s not for nothing that Vietnam is the second largest producer of coffee in the world.

Maybe Starbucks do have Vietnamese coffee on their menu, and I just failed to see it? I think they probably have.

It’s fine.

Continue reading “Dates”