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  • Writer's pictureJoanna

Not so Amazing Race

Where to begin?

Before I start... I have to say how HAPPY I am that I ventured out for a beer before embarking on the next leg of my adventure... After my final day of traipsing around Ho Chi Minh, drinkin' Mai Tai's, cruising up tall buildings and captivating everyone at the market with my flowers... I headed back to my hotel to catch my ride to the airport. There was a nice guy in the hotel who was squabbling with reception in regards to when he should head to the airport, how long it was going to take and how much it was going to cost him... so I offered for him to jump in with me.  I'd already paid for the shuttle along with my mini bar fee, so I told him to just pay it forward... The HCMC airport was a hell of a lot more manoeuvrable this time round... no one took my passport away or demanded a photo from me or sent me outside to get money or almost made me cry...

Though I must admit, heading through security, I almost got in a fist fight with a lady who's big, intrusive, pendulous plastic bag kept consistently hitting my leg.  Why?  Because she was too close to me.  It was almost as if she was going to dart past me in the lineup the first chance she got.  We were in a SECURITY line up at the airport... not the freeway.

Back off...

I waited for my flight announcement sitting in the airport cafe, enjoying a beer and some chocolate ice cream. I've been craving ice cream for a couple days now.  Then I saw this billboard and it put me over the edge.  Look how happy they are!  Just a delightful Vietnamese family enjoying their ice cream & cake & milkshakes and ... I don't know what else... but they're definitely thrilled.  And I'm on vacation, so I can discount the calories with I deserve it... Too bad that my ice cream was the most frozen thing on the planet and I had to let it sit for 30 minutes before the little plastic spoon would even break the surface. I got on the plane only to sit myself down in the wrong seat.  Slightly embarrassing because obviously I still have some work to do with learning numbers... and it was brought to my attention by this very anal pre-teen with some kind of stuffed animal backpack. I moved... one seat back.  Too bad too, because I was originally sitting beside 2 Bhukkhu women and then suddenly I was behind the dickhead that reclined her seat as soon as she sat down... and kept it that way the entire flight.

I wanted to tattle on her soooooo badly.

At least this time, I had an aisle seat... a cramped aisle seat, at that, but an aisle seat nonetheless. Not that I was going to be up, stretching and walking around a lot on a 50 minute flight.  Right ahead of our seats, were the enormous leg-room, emergency-door seats, that they usually reserve for the people that are willing to 1. pay a bit more and 2. help save everyone's lives in the case of an emergency.

Me: "Can I please sit there?" (pointing at the empty seats) Flight Attendant: "No."

Enough said...

Maybe they didn't think that I would be helpful in an emergency situation.

Fair enough. I'd probably be shit.

I've probably been on about 200+ flights in my life and I bet you I still couldn't tell you exactly where those life jackets would be found under your seat... or even how to use them in an emergency situation.  Not that I could even reach mine if shit got ugly because I can't bend over due to the fact that my knees are jammed up against the seat because Miss Stuffed-Animal-Backpack has to have her seat reclined. Ok... instead of letting my anger elevate, I decided my best option would be to fall asleep... then wake up in a tropical island..  everything would be dreamy, ideal, magical... Well, that was short lived...

I got POKED awake.

The flight attendant wanted to tell me that they had a promotion on sandwiches and would I like one?

No, thank you.

I want to call him a jerk, but he did offer me a sandwich...

Tough one. It wasn't long before we started our descent.  I really felt like they put their wheels down too early and I was fully prepared to challenge the pilot on their ability to land, but I couldn't quite get my eye on the exact location of the island because the girl at the window seat had her elbow leaning right on it... No amount of my neck stretching or churning gave her the slightest hint or indication that perhaps someone might want to look OUT the window and see our location.

Zero courtesy for the frightened or the concerned or the curious.

That is the CONDITION of sitting at a window seat... you have to let people look if they want to.  Just like if you're at an aisle seat, the condition is that you have to let people out to pee and stretch.  Those are the rules.


I'd arranged for the hotel to pick me up...

Of course, no one was there.

I tried to email them to inquire as to their whereabouts...

No free WiFi... Things weren't going in my favour. I had to haul my crap back inside to an airport cafe and purchase a Diet Coke, all so that I could get a receipt, which contained the secret WiFi code on the bottom of it. Quick rant about free WiFi... Ok - fabulous that a lot of places have free WiFi... that's great.  But a lot of them take you to a page, where everything is in Vietnamese, and they trick you in to pressing random buttons which only sucker you in to venturing in to advertising, as opposed to confirming WiFi... which is all you want to do.  And most of it is in Vietnamese, so it's a bit of a crap shoot when you're pressing red and green links and tabs and buttons... Ok... rant over. I go back outside, determined to just jump in a cab and get to my resort.  At the taxi bay, I see a girl discussing where she would like to go with a couple concierge ladies and I pipe up that she might be interested in sharing a cab.  Once she looks up my hotel location on her phone and we figure out that our destinations are quite close in proximity, we decide to jump in together. Well, as luck should have it, we ended up with a taxi driver that had NO idea where my resort was. Now, one would think that if he was that confused with the address, it might be advisable to plug the location in to Google Maps and follow along with the helpful directions that app offers.


One might also think that if your fare knew the location (due to Google Maps and address), you might just listen to them.

Wrong again.

He had to try every road... pulling over constantly to just look round... all the while doing somewhere between approximately 10-20km... AND he had to phone a friend... Finally... after being corrected and reassured by the person on the other line, he managed to turn his taxi (and head) around and start to make tracks in the right direction.  Still slow though. I made a comment at one point that I could probably get out and walk beside the cab... If we were on Amazing Race, we would have lost and been off the air by now. FINALLY we found our location.  Although both of us had our phones handy for reference, he was skeptical the entire time. I was never more happy to get out of a taxi...  the confusion and mistrust was just too much to handle. We both got our bags out, said our goodbyes.  She had a friend picking her up, and it was funny because he'd been waiting quite a while and couldn't understand what had taken so long! Knowledgeable and competent taxi driver on world's smallest island. Langchia Village Resort was right there on my right, so I walked right in.



"Hello?" "Anybody here?" "Hellooooooooooo?"



Unnerving, actually... Finally I went exploring around the corner and found a bunch of ladies lounging about in the kitchen.


Gawd... here we go again...

One of them came out, looking at me just I'd just wandered in to a mine field... like I was the crazy one.  This is how the conversation ensued...

Me: "I have a room here tonight." Reception Lady: "You need room?" Me: "Yes... but I already have a room booked." Reception: "I have room available for you if you want." Me: "I already booked. I'm Joanna McBride... I am booked in for three days, starting tonight."

Complete blank.

It was like she'd checked out before I checked in. No attempt at begging my pardon, no display of empathy, no sense of urgency to make amends, no offer of temporary compensation. Nothing. Not a bloody sausage. Then she became insistent on seeing my voucher.

Unfortunately I didn't have a print out version... but I made sure she saw my online itinerary, my confirmation, my booking reference number, the dates, the hotel address... the email where they wrote to me and told me they were happy to have me!!!

Then she wanted me to email it to her so that she could check it.

Beat. It.

... get me my room.

I'm getting annoyed now.  I've paid for this room. I wasn't really in the frame of mind to 'prove' myself. Finally I looked at her and I said, "Ok... what's really going on here? Tell me the truth." What came out of her mouth was another long-winded, fabricated story about how she 'need see' my voucher to compare with 'note' because 'computer hotel map program down' and she 'need see.' Nope... still not buying it.

I call poppycock.

I'm going to step out on a limb here and hazard a guess that this resort has approximately... 10 rooms... and if it's true and 'computer hotel map program down' ... it should not really make too much of a difference.  Anyone hear of hard copy? What I think happened is that they missed the reservation... lucky me... and they'd been lazy all day because they didn't think they had any more check-ins.  I don't think organization is their strong suit...

I let them photocopy my passport, but there was no way I was letting anyone get their hands on my credit card. I was then told to have a seat while some other girl - assuming the cleaning girl - ran off to ... presumably???... clean my room.

I asked if any one else was staying in the hotel, to which they replied, "There are some Germans, but they at the beach now." While I was waiting there, I thought there was no better time than the present to bring up another bone of contention (once on a roll... right?), "I did email and ask for someone to pick me up at the airport and you wrote back and told me you would be there waiting.  But no one showed up." The blank look that I've come to love returned again. Crickets. This place is really impressing me. I just have to say something about my character.

People often comment that I have no patience and they could not be more wrong. It takes incredible patience to be me.

You have no idea how much I often want to say and don't. My problem is that I have a difficult time suffering fools and my eyes & entire facial expression give away absolutely everything that I'm usually thinking. So once you see that look, now that there is so much going on in my head that is actually NOT coming out of my mouth. People may call that self-restraint... I call it patience. Finally... I got a room. I have to admit... the room is nice.  I have to go over a rickety bridge that only just serves as a reminder not to drink too much, because the pool is directly beside it... and if there's one thing I'm good at, it's foreshadowing my demise. I almost feel like a honeymooner alone in the room. King size bed... and much softer than the last one!  View of the pool, lilacs hanging down with a sweet smell. Shame about the management.

I organized a few of my things and then headed out to explore before the sun went down.  By the time I got to the beach, the tide was way up and there was not possible way of walking along the shore due to the buildings.  Beach erosion at it's finest.  I found one place called the Paris Beach and had a Blue Hawaii before moving on. I finally sat down for something to eat at a quaint little restaurant by my hotel. The usual... salad rolls but this time with a coconut curry peanut sauce!  I need to venture out in my eating department... but in my credit, I only just started feeling better so I am taking it slow.

The weather is worrying me slightly... but here's hoping that between thunder showers and lightning and clouds and rain, the sun pokes out occasionally... Welcome to Phu Quoc... tropical paradise...

I definitely would have lost the Amazing Race today.

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