Saturday, 17 September 2016

Worse than I imagined but not as bad as I had feared !

I'm back in Vancouver.
The YVR version of reality 
Since was getting the lithium run-around in Paris this time (at least that worked well), it's only fair that I clear the obstacle course of Vancouver Automated Passport Check - Manual Check of the Automated Check - Line up for 2nd Manual Check because the Machine NEVER works - find luggage AND BIKE - Clear Customs with an expired Personal Resident Card in RECORD TIME !  The East-Indian-looking border control guy doesn't have a chip on his shoulder and maybe likes the champagne corks on my backpack to make my story of cycling from Paris to Frankfurt seem plausible.
Reality's version of reality

NEXT it's time to screw the system AGAIN.  If you are taking a SkyTrain from Vancouver Airport you are paying around CAD$9 to downtown, which includes a tourist tax. If you cycle 3 stations station towards downtown, you're paying CAD$4 for the same journey.  If you're cycling 4 stops to Marine Drive, the total comes to $2.75.  Naturally, I cycle ;-)

When a hotel shuttle bus (Thanks WESTIN Hotels) comes within 20 centimeters of my handlebar when passing, I realize I'm not in Kansas anymore, and I miss the classy French drivers.   Another thing that seems to be missing is COLOUR. Everything here seems grey,  Silly me for travelling to somewhere where they have REAL blue sky so I have to notice the lack of real colours upon my return.

I stop at The Boathouse, a specialty fancy Seafood restaurant along the way.  Their chilies dipping sauce is excellent, but the tiny bits of squid hiding from view in a lot of some kind of brown-bread batter don't really qualify as calamari in my book.  But I'm sure the batter is gluten-free!  Welcome back to LaLaLand, where the inhabitants make life beautiful just by believing.

In anticipation of such pleasures of reality, I almost booked a flight from Vancouver to Phnom Penh yesterday. RETURN for CAD$ 746 !  Alas I wasn't quick enough, some OTHER lucky bastard will now get to gloat at the banks of the Mekong.   

Phnom Penh, with a name like that the last city on the planet I expected to fall in love with. But I did. Head over Heels no less
But I can't complain. Thanks to my friend Alan, I will get a Promise of the Real (& Neil Young) in 5 weeks time and I have my work cut out to check out winterly temperatures in and flights to Granada, The Philippines, and Tahiti in the coming months

The next morning it is RAINING  cats  & dogs.  And it is forecast to do this ALL DAY.  And it is DARK out there.   People who know me a little know that things like this can lead to certain short-circuit decisions.  And it's no different today. And I'm glad that I didn't get yesterday's cheap airplane ticket.

Because today I manage to BOOK a RETURN ticket Vancouver to Hanoi with  a stop-over in Guangzhou for the unbelievable price of CAD $ 637  (US$ 482 Euro 432) THAT is a FABULOUS price, but still not as FABULOUS as the destination.

Ever since my last visit in March, I always remember what Anthony Bourdain said about an arrival of his crew in Hanoi.  They all bust into tears, because they were so happy to be back there.  After seeing this clip I don't feel bad anymore about having wet eyes every time the bus crosses the Red River into Ha Noi.  There was no shortage of trips since March, but through all these trips I have been secretly waiting for the end of the Rainy Season in Indochina.
And while yesterday I felt fine, there was that little edgy fact somewhere in my subconscious that I'd be rather somewhere else. Today that has been replaced by a kind of inner peace. It will be a while and I will have to endure more Vancouver rains, but I AM going back to Ha Noi. And that is a very nice feeling to carry around. There seem to be people out there who anxiously wait all year for Christmas (I am NOT one of them). But my yearning for Indochina is probably similar to some degree. EXCEPT, Vietnam always delivers the RIGHT presents ;-)

There is a date I need to remember (and maybe you should too). No, not MY trip to Ha Noi, but my favourite TV host meeting my favourite world leader in my favourite city: Anthony Dourdain's latest stint in Ha Noi, the one where he has lunch with Obama !   It is airing on September 25th on CNN !!!!

A few hours after having booked my usual hotel in Hanoi's Old Quarter, I get an e-mail from 'Mr. Johnny' and all I can do is GRIN, because it reads:

                           "WELCOME YOU BACK WITH YOUR HOME IN VIETNAM :))"

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