The Best Laid Plans …

Alms Giving in Luang Prabang

This should be my second day in Hanoi, but I’m back in Bangkok. The immigration office in Vietnam closed down, for five days, over Lunar New Year. US citizens need a letter, from immigration, for the “on arrival” visa. This process can take up to 72 hours. The weekends don’t count. Everyone said 48 hours. The day of my flight, at hour 71, my application was declined. There’s an issue with my passport number. So, I quickly booked another night in Luang Prabang. The French Guesthouse was now completely full. I ended up in a hotel on the main tourist road. The Alms Giving Ceremony began on the other side of the street. Many thanks to the Vietnam Immigration Office.

When you don’t care enough to look it up!

Seeing that I was also now two blocks from a Pharmacy, I decided to get meds for my shoulder. I need another Cortisone shot. They’re said to relieve pain for up to two months. It’s been well over nine years. That shot was so bad that I willed my shoulder from any future pain. I’ll go to my grave having just that one shot. After three years of increasing pain, I’m using meds from some pharmacy on a street in Laos. Hey, I served in the Peace Corps three times! I’ve done worse.

Leaving Laos 🇱🇦

I arrived at the Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok, after my hour and a half flight from Luang Prabang. I had no idea how long the “on arrival” visa process would take at that airport. I flew in last December to Suvarnabhumi. While heading to baggage claim, I noticed an area to my right. There was a sign for international passports. Other passengers from my flight were ignoring this and following the baggage / immigration sign in front of them. I quickly turned to my right. There was no one in line at the station ahead of me. It took a minute for the agent to look up from his phone. Once he did, I handed him my passport and then took fingerprints (four fingers only) for both hands. And, just like that, my passport was stamped with another 45 day visa. The escalator to baggage claim was directly behind the agent. This entire process took three minutes. OK, four, given that I had to wait for the agent to look up.

The Long and Winding Road

I passed on getting a new SIM card. I just need to add money to the card I got back in December. I took out a small amount of money from an ATM, then booked a ride to my hotel via Grab. The service is like Lyft or Uber. I downloaded the app, before my earlier trip to Thailand. It took a while to get a ride, maybe ten minutes. I asked at Information where I should stand. The woman pointed to the door. I was at #6 and just had to walk outside, after getting the arrival message from the driver. When I didn’t see him, I sent him a message on the app. He took a photo of where he was, just behind the taxi, directly next to where I was standing.

IBIS Bangkok Riverside

The driver Google translated a question about taking the freeway. I said yes. Traffic was horrible and the driver was getting more and more frustrated. We traveled along. About an hour in, he demanded 50 baht. He kept asking if I had 50 baht. I gave him a 1000 baht note. He held it, between his fingers, while driving. When there was finally a break in traffic, we turned onto a Toll Road. The driver paid 50 Baht and handed me back the change. At some point, we exited on a major road. Then, we sat in traffic. The driver kept hitting Google Maps, trying to find another way. Ten minutes later, we heard the faint sound of a police whistle. We could now move forward. A little while later, the driver turned down an alley. At the very end, guards opened a gate, and we entered the parking lot to my hotel. It took longer to get from the airport to the hotel than my flight from Laos to Thailand. The fare was 300 something. I gave the driver the 500 baht note from the toll. When he went in his wallet, to give me change, I waved him off. Above and beyond, sir! You went above and beyond!

You think the drive was bad? Let’s talk wall outlets!

IBIS Bangkok Riverside is an OK hotel in an amazing location. The staff is wonderful and definitely makes up for the older hotel. How old are we talking? There’s one electrical outlet in the room. It’s on the far wall, next to the window. Your universal converter will not be able to fit, as the outlet is located on top of the seating molding.

The new and improved outlet.

To correct this, the hotel has added a second outlet in the wood paneling for the TV. So, you can plug the converter there and try to set your items a top the narrow ledge above. When I asked about the plug situation, they said. “We can give you an extension cord!” From your lips to God’s ears!” Yes, please!!!!!

Hook a Sista up!

So now, with my meds/cream, river facing room, and very cold swimming pool, I am happy as a clam and doing NOTHING for a few days. All that walking about Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, traveling to Laos and walking around Vientiane, Vang Vieng, and Luang Prabang has taken its toll. My old butt needs to rest, swim, and take full advantage of this cheap as chips hotel.

Note to self: Guess I wasn’t really ready to walk around Hanoi. XOXO — GGT

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