Saturday, 15 July 2017

Leaving my favourite balcony. PNH to SGN. & Dr. P, I presume?

After being briefly up at 4 am, it is the bright morning sun hitting my face that wakes me up at 6:30 am.  Now that is a good way to wake up ;-)

Microsoft Windows is a piece of CRAP.

Face it.  Despite all your iPhones etc ... THIS is what we are ....

/start rant/

My routine morning Skype call to Grandma does not happen today.  The Skype application informs me that neither my microphone nor my speakers are working.   Skype worked properly yesterday.    Both my speakers and my microphone are working today.   Fighting with MS Windows was ok in the late 80s, maybe to the mid 90s of LAST CENTURY.  The fact that they're STILL producing CRAP is unbelievable.    Oh, and I never had these problems on Windows 8, but unfortunately in today's world everyone was FORCED to upgrade.    

George Orwell had NO IDEA .......

/end rant/

It's the 15th today.  Saturday (I had to look up the day of the week)

I'm leaving my balcony today ;-(
I'm a little sad to leave Phnom Penh today, but there is excitement ahead. 

I'm about to meet Dr. P. later today, stay 5 nights in a fan-cooled beach hut, and then return for a night to my FAVOURITE hotel in all of Vietnam (Hint: it's the people, not the location ;-). All this puts a smile on my face and makes me wish I was already sitting in that plane.

7:30 am.  After checking the Windows systems settings and rebooting, Skype finally lets me call Grandma (WITH sound, LOL).  It seems that Save-On-Foods successfully delivered the scheduled groceries today. I had scheduled the deliver before I left, because for some STRANGE reason, the Save-on-Foods web-site is NOT accessible from outside Canada (C'mon folks, I can see why you would do that [why would anyone abroad want to order groceries?] but you should also consider that a lot of older people aren't actually internet-savvy and have their ordering done by someone else, who might just be ABROAD !)

Time to buy a carton of cigarettes.  I saw Camel Gold at the local super-market for US$ 4.90 per pack.  I already passed my local smoke shop on Cigarette street with the thought that my local guy could not possibly beat that price, when I decide that even if I pay a $ extra to the local owner-operator I've made this world a better place.   So I swing around and walk back the few meters to the covered shack.   I show him the pack and in return to his outstretched index finger with a questioning look (Do you want 1 pack?), I make the "the fish was THIS big" gesture (No, a carton please).  He hands me the carton and says '4 Dollars'.  I can't believe what I heard and say 'Four?', so he starts piling FOUR CARTONS on his desk, LOL.  
That mistake is quickly settled and I walk off with ONE carton of Camel cigarettes for FOUR US$.   That same carton would cost me CAD$ 140 in Canada.  The savings realized buying only one carton of cigarettes just paid for my plane ticket to Saigon and 3 bottles of wine!
And people don't believe me when I tell them that I'm spending a month in Indochina to save money, LOL.


Same as on my earlier cigarette run, Mr. Tuk Tuk is waiting in front of the hotel, points at his watch and says 'Twelve o'clock'   
I didn't think otherwise ;-)

I head to La Croissette to get WiFi on my phone, so I will be able to find first the bus stop for line 152 to get onto the bus, be able to tell which bus stop to get off at, and to be able to find my hotel.  Success.  The internet works here (a guy at the neighbouring table is making a Skype call) but both on my laptop AND my cell phone it is REALLY slow to connect at first.

The waitress, who has been touching my shoulder ever since she recognized me on my first visit here on this trip keeps touching my shoulder.  

Do I REALLY have to wear one of those cheesy  T-shirts that say something tasteless like 

Straight?  Yeah, straight up my bum!
to escape this kind of attention of the female half of the population ??????
On the other hand, I'm flattered pink, LOL.


I've returned the room key and Mr Tuk Tuk is waiting (!).  I finally remembered who he reminds me of.  Eric Clapton.  Yes, a strange thing to say about an Asian, but maybe one of his parents was Caucasian. 
 There are 2 red circular pieces of plastic sitting in the middle of a man-made rope spiderweb at the sides of the passenger cabin. On it someone has written "Please help me".  On both sides of the cabin.   Was that the Tuk-Tuk guy?  He does look under the weather, which is probably the case of all of Phnom Penh drivers.   

Thinking of the poverty these guys live in, I make up my mind during the ride.  Forget about the $5 I gave him yesterday. At the airport I'll pay him the $10 that the ride usually costs and scrape together all of my remaining Cambodian Riels, about another $3 in total.  

I'm going to take the bus in Sai Gon later instead of taking a taxi and Mr. Tuk Tuk can really use it.    You should have seen his smile, LOL.

There is a funny story connected to this picture


I have a boarding pass !!!!!!!    

Immigration.  Where is your visa?   This is a GERMAN passport new passport.  Show me your return ticket.

Next stop a bank machine.  How about we take out 8 Million? 

LOL; too bad it's only Dongs.

I'm following the blue dots on my cell phone map (assisted by the blue GPS dot) to find my bus stop.   OMG it's right in front of the Domestic Terminal.  Google Maps tried to send me further down the route.   
Hey, there is a bus about to leave.  OMG, it's MY bus, # 152.   I jump in, the driver only takes 5000 of the 10,000 I hand him.   OMG, this bus ride is only half of the one in Ha Noi. Only 22 cents !

There is a young German couple sitting next to me and they ask me for help in English (I hide my German-ness well).   They have a list of bus stop names and want to know at which one they should get off.  WTF? That's a STUPID way to do it !!!

When I tell him that I preload a Google Map before the flight and then use the GPS to find my way around on it, he says "Yeah, but I don't have any internet connection".  
Give him a break, he's very young and very pretty ;-)   AND, when I tell him that he doesn't need an internet connection to get the blue GPS dot, he gets it INSTANTLY.  

The ticket money collector, or security guard, or army general on his way home, or whatever he is (he sits with his shoes off next to the driver) comes to the back of the bus and actually looks at my Google Map display to make sure that the tourists get off at the right stop.   ISN'T THAT AMAZING?

I'm SO glad to be back here ;-) 

I'm staring at my GPS display and by jumping the gun force the German kids to get off one bus stop too early.   Ah well. It just might teach them NOT to travel with one GIANT SUITCASE per person !  

I only learned that lesson in my 20s when I tried to lift one of those monsters up the STEEP metal steps into a German train.  

I NEVER AGAIN traveled with a suitcase after that experience.

Sai Gon

Another 'Never Again' experience: Blue River Hotel in Saigon.  I booked a Premier Deluxe Room with Balcony on    There is NO balcony.  They insist that this is the room I booked.  No rebate !

And what's with this?:

You're SHITTING me, right?
Ah well; you live and learn.   I walk down the street (young & drunk backpacker's country mixed with oodles of young Viets) and discover a mini-mart.

They UNDERSTAND when I say ruou vang trang !!!!!!!  But there is none.  Not until next week.  Today they only have ruou vang do.

So I buy a nice bottle of French Brouilly Red for CAD$ 13.  Expensive by Viet standards; cheap by North American standards. 

BUT.  There is a cork in the bottle.   Instant flash-back to last time in Sai Gon when I had to consult 5 restaurants and hotel front desks before I found a corkscrew.  

BUT.  They have a corkscrew at my hotel front desk.   Of course they have NO idea how to use it.   But the young receptionist woman is spirited: 'Can I try?' she pipes up right away?  
 I think that's what I LOVE about Vietnam.  It's a country on the move and you can FEEL that when you walk the streets.  Most people have that optimistic smile, NO-ONE is complaining, and everyone is willing to work their arse off to get a job done or to learn something new.  It's EXCITING and EXHILARATING, that's what being in Vietnam is like.

During another walk I actually FIND the restaurant at which I ate with U&W 1.5 years ago.  Let's hope they still have that fabulous food !

And finally here is an explanation of the last part of the title, which is a bastardization of the classic but dubitable quote "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" which is presumed to be uttered by American Henry Morton Stanley after locating David Livingstone in the dark depth of Africa on November 10th, 1871.  So There, taught you some history, LOL.

Why that quote?   It's about two people meeting in the most unlikely of places (the depth of Africa in the 19th century) both a LONG way from home.  

And here this German living in Canada is arriving from Cambodia to meet in Vietnam a person who was born in Hong Kong and works in the US.  

'Nough said????

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