Getting to Da Nang…

15 10 2009

Wednesday 14/10/09

Modern communication is extraordinary in the age of super connectivity. Roof viewAmongst the swarming hoards of motor cycles in HCMC we’ve seen drivers texting, others using the phone while still other passenger read the newspaper and all this while dodging through traffic. But all this connectivity is useless if you can’t understand one another. It can also be amusing, but hold that thought a minute!

Is this the fire escape? (The 6th floor roof of our HCMC hotel)

Is this the fire escape? (The 6th floor roof of our HCMC hotel)

We decided we would move out of HCMC today and head for Da Nang, a city of about 1.1 million people approximately half way up the coast of Vietnam. We went on line to book yesterday and found the Vietnam Airlines website assured us that all flights were ‘sold out’ for the next week or so. Whoops! Had we made our first really bad blunder? So 8am found Roger anxiously waiting for opening time on the door step of one of the Airline’s offices only to be assured there was, “no problem, plenty of seats”.

Next was the challenge of booking a hotel and arranging to be picked up from the airport. A simple logistical arrangement you would think? Having been given a contact web address by our new friends Robert and Diana we booked on line and asked for a confirming email. After a few hours still no email so we thought we ought to bite the really big bullet and ring them via mobile phone. Sounds easy but you need to know a bit of that history to appreciate that challenge properly. We had already found the frustrations and limitations of ‘International Roaming’ with Telstra while in NZ. One day it would work – the next 3 it would not. In fact in the 11 or so days in NZ Maree’s phone worked for 2 days and mine worked for 3 – at least they were a different 3 days! But then in NZ, like here, you have to know what prefix number to dial, and that seems to change with the vagaries of Telstra.

On our first night in HCMC Robert tried to sort us out over coffee and found he could ring me but I could not ring back. We sorted the phone problem partially by buying a local sim card for Maree’s Mobile and so we put that to use this morning to ring the hotel in Da Nang. Of course we had the wrong prefix and what sounded like a very polite voice told us…well we don’t know what it told us. I suppose that’s not surprising considering it was Vietnamese. Anyway our hotel receptionist put us on the right track and we made the call… It is only when you are on the phone speaking to someone in another language that you realise how valuable gesturers and miming can be. The end of it was we suspected that we probably had at least one confirmed booking to go to when we arrived in Da Nang and sure enough it all worked out – even if the communication was rather convoluted – as evidenced by the hotel receptionist’s interpretation of my name. Met at Da NangYou can see it for yourselves as displayed for the airport pickup.

servicing bikes

servicing bikes

servicing planes

servicing planes

boarding HCMC

At KL airport we were told to make our way to Gate X for boarding only to find after we went through the door we were whisked away (hijacked?) on a fast train to another part of the airport to board. At HCMC airport a similar thing happened and we were ferried by purpose built buses from one end of the airport to the other to board a plane parked out on the tarmac.

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2 responses

15 10 2009
Joshua Hesketh

How did you manage to work out that that sign was for you!

Sounds like you’re having a great time, I’m enjoying the photos.

16 10 2009
Roger and Maree

Hi Josh, I was walking past when Mum spotted him. It’s the cryptic crossword practice I reckon!

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