Vietnam here we come!

by

Hugh Paxton’s Blog has been to Vietnam before. And is going there again, tomorrow. Crawl out of bed time is 3 AM. To enjoy quality life experiences with my mother-in-law in Hanoi. Family stuff.

The Vietnamese are a populous race. In 2001 there were 78.1 million of them ranking the Vietnamese as number 13 in the global population ratings. But 2001 was a while back. There may be a few more by now. Most are living in poverty, the rest are working for the Communist party.

The food is fun and frisky. The Vietnamese I have met have been a mixed bunch. But one thing to rely on is red tape.

Getting a visa is, to quote a fellow sufferer at the embassy on Bangkok’s Wireless Road, more expensive than buying the air ticket. I’m not a commie and have no plans to go that way but if I was running a Red embassy I’d want to recruit fellow travelers and make some sort of effort to ensure the first taste of Vietnam was a bit welcoming. Persuasive. Jolly. Ho, ho, ho Chi Minh!

I would put a pot plant here and there to break up the ghastly grey monotony of an office waiting room otherwise devoid of interest and resembling a prison.

I would go various steps further. I would employ nice people to man the desks. I’d recruit more than two of them and I would fire the grumpy little disgruntled dictatorial incompetent gits currently representing Vietnam.

How about an inviting poster with a beach and a woman with big tits having the holiday of a lifetime? Or a fish tank? Or a smile? Or a window that doesn’t have bars and hasn’t been washed since the Tet offensive?

Things could be so different!

So bright with promise and hospitality!

And a “Yes, I know it’s a bastard, all you have to do is wait here. I have to work here! You’ve got to cough up twenty quid for your visa. I don’t make the rules. And I can’t issue it until four o’clock but you’ll get a decent cup of coffee just down the road. You’ll have a great visit. Lovely country. Worth the wait, mate. Cheer up! It might not happen!”

The first thing I plan to check, when I touch down in Hanoi, is The Border Guard Museum.

Yes, they’ve got one. How retro-viral is that???

The state funded institution is dedicated to, and celebrates, according to my Lonely Planet guide “those friendly boys in uniform you encountered at the airport or border crossing.”

The author adds “Theoretically, it has official opening times but it’s often shut.”

This will remind anybody who has applied for a visa at a Vietnamese embassy of what goes on.

Cheers from Bangkok! Hugh

PS What really annoys me is that Japanese don’t need a visa! My mother-in-law gets in free!

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