• Joanna

Meltdowns, Wine, Window Seats, Robots & Shrimp

As happens on most… actually, scrap that… and start over…

As happens on ALL of my adventures… I usually do something (maybe quite a lot of things) super dooper stupid and end up having one or two meltdowns before I go.


The reason for this is simple; when I book or confirm, I’m usually too excited and tend to neglect the fine print or I go so fast that I completely lose the ability to concentrate on certain important details like departure times, dates, pricing, stipulations…


This trip has been no exception to the rule.


So far… without having even left Mission, I managed to book a hotel room for an entire day & night that I won’t even be in Vietnam yet.  $43 down the drain.  I also have arranged HCMC airport pickup for the wrong date.


Why?


Well… because I mistook the departure date on the e-ticket as the arrival date.


I am ridiculous.

It only started dawning on me when I was beyond confused trying to figure out flight times, lay-overs and time zones.  Nothing was making sense.


Suddenly I realized the error of my ways.


I also had a complete meltdown the day prior to departure because I couldn’t find my Air China flight out of Vancouver online.  Instead of checking recent emails for information that my flight had been delayed an hour, I went in to full panic mode, convincing myself that I’d been sucked in to a cheap airline online booking scam that was never intending to fly.


Anxiety at its best.


Welcome to my life.


This is why I drink….


I took the 7:25am West Coast Express from Mission in to Waterfront Station and from there, jumped on the Canada Line to YVR.


I arrived at Vancouver International too early for Air China’s check in desks to be ready, so I did what every self-respecting Canadian alcoholic on holiday would do.  I sat in the food court and waited for the bar to open.  11am! Wine o’clock :-)


Security was pretty painless.


I did forget about a full Red Bull that I had in my bag.


To my disgust, they opened my bag up right in front of me, grabbed it and then chucked it right in to the garbage.


I find it interesting that I can take an open tube of toothpaste, body spray and body lotion on to the plane- but I can’t even attempt to board with a brand new, never been opened, non-alcoholic beverage.  A beverage that they sell beyond the security control, to boot!  There wasn’t even the option of drinking it right there… it was just gone.  Ripped away from me.


All $5 worth.


Gone.


Things got better thought because I then found the ‘lounge’ and made my first friend of the holiday!


He was sitting right beside me at the bar and ordered a bottle of Pinot Grigio.  Of course, anyone in the hospitality industry knows that you can’t serve an entire bottle to one person.  Not at once anyway… though we all know that most of us winos can far exceed that in one sitting.


But as luck would have it, I was sitting right there AND I was also looking at the wine menu… AND just so happens that I like Pinto Grigio AND he was willing to share.


Purely providential, I say.


His name was Blaire and he has travelled extensively throughout Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, so he was filling me full of what to do, where to go, who to stay away from.


My favourite piece of advice he gave me was;


“Try the rat. It’s delicious.”


He must have noticed the disgusted expression that came over my face as soon as he said it, because he immediately came to the defence of the poor meal rats by informing me that they aren’t the gross big city rats… they’re the good, clean, farm rats...


I think I’m ok.  Good try though.


If someone is referring to "Tom and Jerry" when you're inquiring about what you're eating... rest assured that it's rat.


While we were sitting there enjoying a few lovely glasses of wine, I decided that it might be a good idea to alert my bank to the fact that I was heading to Vietnam and to remove all holds on my credit and debit cards.  Something I probably should have done a week ago, but no time like the present, right?

At first I was on the phone for a VERY long time, and it was really cutting in to my airport wine time as I had to press everything from # to 5 to 8 to 1 for English and then 0 to speak to an agent over and over and over again…


When the automated machine finally told me that wait time varied between 25-40 minutes, I hung up.


Got through online with Facebook messenger - of all things!


Here is part of the conversation;


I love speaking with robots.Hmmm.... I'm not sure how to answer that yet but you're helping me learn!  Could you try asking me that in a different way?

AND...

Ai, I'm sorry, Joanna, but I'm still learning the human language and am really struggling to understand your request.

Attendant please...


Blaire gave me both useful advice and some “not so” useful;


  • Only take Vinasun taxi and ONLY if they turn their meter on. If any taxi driver tries to rip me off, take a picture of their identification and threaten to report them.Don’t get in a taxi drunk & pass out or you could end up way further away than you ever wanted to go... and much more in debt.

  • When using an ATM, make sure the bubble card-insert thingy is securely in place (or try to rip it off before you use it) because thieves will cover them with identity stealing devices.Buy a credit card protector because the thieves can come along and just scan your card through your pocket or your purse. He was ripped off $19 thousand dollars once!!! I’d die.

  • Don’t buy drugs on the streets because there are undercover cops everywhere and they’ll thrown me in jail for life… hmmmm…. Guess I'll try. No promises though.

  • Don't pet the dogs.

  • Try the little frogs… to eat.


The flight was not bad…


It baffles me that at my age, with my extensive traveling experience and full knowledge of my restless legs and ever increasing sciatica, WHY I pick a window seat?  All I wanted to do the entire time was getting up and walk and stretch.


But nope, my area was the equivalent of about a quarter of a port-a-potty, and that’s even an over exaggeration considering the goof in front of me had his chair reclined for the entire duration of the flight.


From now on… aisle all the way.


It was a HUGE plane.


HUGE.

We flew over Russia for a long, long time.  The stewardess made us all close our windows, but I decided to fight the power a few times and open them up for a look poo and to take a couple pictures.


The food left something to be desired.


We basically got served the same thing twice, but I opted out of the second course.  Once was enough.


In their defence, when given the chicken or seafood option, I did jump at “seafood” without much consideration to what I was about to eat.  Who decides that shrimp on a 14 hour flight is a good idea?


Oh well… I figured that if I got sick, there was a fairly good chance that 50% of the plane would follow suit… so I decided to let the chips fall where they may.


Stale bun. Hard butter. Vanilla yogurt. Shrimp with bok choy and dry rice. Green salad with 1000 Islands.


Now I’m in Beijing-  having just passed through my second security check.  Funny that I’m not allowed to leave the airport… I basically just followed a corridor down to the International Transfers area and had to do the whole security procedure again.


Belt and shoes and jewelry off, computer out…


Oh! And for anyone who is intested… the compression socks worked. No thick ankles. Yeah!... not yet anyway...

I am wearing Capri's though, so it’s a bit of a fashion faux-pas.. but I guess I’m not really trying to impress anyone… right?

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