Friday, January 18, 2008

Blessings in disguise

Went back to Vietnam the same day as getting the visa. Vietnam airlines, by the way, is totally awesome. Why?

Because they still use passenger planes with freaking propellers.

Taking off on that thing is great, you get to hear the BWAAAAAARRRRHHHHHHHHH of the propellers going nuts. Landing is... kind of insane. Basically, it seems like there aren't any airbrakes because of the propellers, so you don't get the slowing action of the ubiquitous jet propelled commercial airliners when you land.

Tiny plane + propellers + full speed landing = Fucking awesome.

Think of a landing where the plane slams into the ground, bounces, lands on one wheel, and proceeds to fishtail/roll a little to the left and right for a while before straigtening out. Meanwhile, the people inside are shook left and right. You always know it's a good landing when you and the person sitting next to you are laughing, or people on the plane begin to clap.

Got to spend more time with Jenni and Kim. Met up with them after dinner and went to a chillin bar/pub. I've never seen so many tourists in one area, but apparently it's Vietnam's backpacker district so it makes sense. There's always this little cute Vietnamese kid there that busts out tons of dance moves! The patrons there love him. We went upstairs after a while and had a great time dancing. There was this older Vietnamese woman that was getting tossed around by a black dude, and another Vietnamese chick that had some killer abs that possibly made Kim and Jenni a tad jealous. We left around 2.

Next morning, I went with Kim to an orphanage in district 3 where I helped care for and feed some of the wee babies there. One of the babies I was playing with was so awesome. While on her stomach, she loved to stare at the ground and lift up her hands and legs so only her tummy touched the ground. She'll make a great skydiver some day. Babies are scary to hold. They get squirmy sometimes, and I'm always afraid that they'll squirm out of my arms.

We headed back, caught some lunch at a place recommended by one of the other volunteers, and then headed back to pick up some of Kim's stuff and get my money changed. One of Jenni's friends in Vietnam was hosting a barbecue at his studio nearby Cu Chi tunnels, out in the middle of nowhere. I caught a bit of a bug somewhere in between Cambodia and Vietnam so I couldn't drink too much (not that I can drink that much anyway) but it was fine. I was still feeling a bit woozy, so I got up to take a walk. Kim invitered herself along (my bad dood) and we spent a lot of the night chatting.

So I ended up paying more for everything because of the delay in getting back to my scheduled flight to Manila, but I wouldn't have done it any other way. It's one of those things that turned out to be a blessing, and I'm totally glad things happened that way.

Now back in Manila.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Fighting for change

After reviewing various options online and comparing them with the options that the nice concierge girl gave me, and trying desperately to make all the ends meet up and make sure all my bases are covered, I've settled on getting the Vietnamese VISA, flying back to Ho Chi Minh tonight, changing my PAL flight to Jan 17th (it's valid until then) and staying an extra day in Vietnam. This lets me hang out a bit longer in Vietnam with Jenni and Kim, lets me have a "friendly chat" with the tour agency that handed me the shaft, and it's cheaper than the alternative (flying out of Phnom Phen to Manila).

Back to Vietnam tonight. Hope they let me in this time.

By the way, Phnom Phen has the best internet rates. 50 cents USD for an hour, plus their computer doesn't have any restrictions. I upgraded their Skype and gave them some Firefox and Opera love.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Access Denied

I was denied a visa for Vietnam going back the 2nd time. After visiting Ankor Wat in Siem Reap (will post about that later) I took a bus back to Vietnam and was given the news that I would not be able to enter Vietnam and would have to go back to Cambodia. Right now, I'm in Phnom Phen and will fly out of here to Manila sometime tomorrow. I'm right across from the American Embassy, so if shit hits the fan, I'm sure I'll be able to make it over there with some appendages intact.

On the good news, I got to see these crazy Cambodian flies swarm street lights on the way back to Phenom Phen. There were SO many of them, it looked like snow that would not fall to the ground, just swirling all around the lights, the cars, the people. The only crappy part is when they land on you. After brushing them off for the umpteenth time, it gets annoying.

Let's have a round of thanks!

Thanks to Jenni for helping my cousins and I arrive safely in Ho Chi Minh and find a cheap, good hotel. And also for pointing us to the most awesome Vietnamese restaurant ever.

Thanks to Jenni's friends (like Zoe and so many other cool people whose names I can't remember, as usual) for helping me get back to the hotel when I didn't have any money or clue where I was in Ho Chi Minh.

Thanks to the people at Cu Chi Tunnels for letting me shoot at wooden animal targets with everyone's favorite terrorist and 3rd world country assault rifle, the awesome Kalashnikov model automatic rifle of 1947, more affectionately known to the world as the AK-47. BTW, if you go there and shoot, bring your own ear protection. Closed ear headphones are NOT sufficient, you crazyass Vietnamese soldiers! Thanks for being cool anyway.

Thanks to the people at Rainbow Adventure for making this event entirely possible. Without you guys, I wouldn't be stuck in Cambodia wishing evil bastardly things on you. When I come back, I promise to slap you all upside the head.

With my elbows.

And finally, thanks to Kim for being awesome company. Makes me glad I went to Vietnam.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Take me to your phở

Off to Vietnam tomorrow.

Back to Manila on the 15th. See ya'll later.