Travelling In Vietnam

The international flight with Missy Fleur went without a hitch. The staff were fabulous when we checked in, they were even more amazing when we got on board and through the flight.    

Getting through customs and immigration was so easy it was almost funny. No-one even looked at the dog or her papers. I went to the naughty person queue, you now the one, the one you have to go to when you have things to declare. Actually that is the best one to go to as you get through really fast when you use that queue, but this time I really did have something, being the dog. It was just a breeze. Then came the hiccup, I tried to book an internal flight with Fleur.
Beware Vietnam Airlines and what they say, even on their web site, it seems is the best advice that can be offered! 

I tried to book an internal flight, a one hour flight from Hanoi to Da Nang, and it seems the rules change for domestic travel. The hotel was going to book the flight for me, and I was fine with that, but then they said there was a problem and that I needed to go to the Vietnam Airlines office. So off I trotted thinking they just wanted to see the relevant Vet Certificates, although I would have thought they would still have them on record from the international flight a mere 4 days previously. Three and a half hours later I finally excited the office, actually I had to go from the main office to the ‘Help Desk’ office which was across the road, but that’s an incidental! It seems that even though the web site has a price for taking a pet in the cabin, only on Business Class ticket, they do not actually offer that service domestically. I pushed a little at that as I had been told by a local that ‘NO’ is the default position and just to keep pushing, so I did, politely of course, its not the fault of the girl that was sitting across from me, she is just following orders, and I did hasten to reassure her that I understood that, but I stood my ground. I thought it would be resolved and that I was just going through the same rigmarole that I did in South Korea of having to submit all the Vet Certificates again.

A wee aside. While I was going through all this a lovely older (I’m picking they were the same age as me!) German couple were waging their own little war. They had booked to come to Vietnam back in January (remember that it is now April) and they had spent 6 weeks cycling through the country. They had traveled here and bought their own bikes. The had transported the bikes to Vietnam for free but when they had gone to confirm their return travel tickets they had been told that to take the bikes back to Germany they were going t have to pay US$500. Imagine their surprise. They were told that the rules had changed, the travel policy had changed, as of April 1, and that bikes no longer traveled for free. That the tickets had been booked and paid for back in January made no difference it seems, they had to pay or they couldn’t take their bikes! Needless to say they were just a tad grumpy over this. I couldn’t resist, I just had to talk to them.. I had my laptop with me so we logged in and checked the rules. Nowhere did it say that they were going to have to pay, and a contract is a contract after all. We exchanged stories and that really upset the poor old staff that were trying to deal with us all now, and a bunch of foreigners is far scarier that just one. . Oh my God, bloody foreigners I kept hearing them say in my head I gave them the same advice that I had been given, just don’t back down, but be nice about it. Sadly I was hustled out of the office before I found out what had happened for them,but I am hoping it all goes well for them and that Vietnam Airlines sees the error of their ways. You just can’t change the rules mid way through a travel booking and expect the customer to be happy about it.

Thuyta Cafe view

OK, so I had to wait for the outcome of my request to take Missy Fleur with me in the cabin. I found a lovely cafe/restaurant, Thuyta Cafe, Hanoi, right at the edge of the lake and bought myself a Royal Cafe (cognac, Kahlua, Vietnamese coffee and cream) I felt I deserved it after the mornings little war. For a while all felt right with the world – funny that!

Coffee consumed and waiting for food…

After an hour or so I ordered some food, the coffee was actual breakfast and needless to say it went straight to my head, but hey, I was on holiday. I ordered a toasted spicy chicken sandwich and Missy and I enjoyed that.

The view in the other direction

I met a lovely Australian couple while I was there. They were just ending a six week trip through Vietnam. Their youngest daughter is in Hue doing a six month volunteer job and they had taken the opportunity to see some of the country and call in to see how she was fairing. We chatted for an hour or so and I finally headed back tot he hotel. It was 4.30 by the time I got back and still no call from the airlines. Now I was worried. I was due to fly out at noonish the next day so it was starting to get a little pressing. At 5 I went back down to reception and they suggested that I go back to the office. They offered to take me there on the back of the bike, not something I really wanted to do but there was no way to really get out of it as they were quite insistent! It was a hair raising trip and the young fellow driving got lost and we went round the same block a number of times. After about half an hour and numerous stops to ask directions we finally arrived and there were still some staff there.

The answer was no, she had to travel in the hold! I was very grumpy. It had taken them all day to decide this and there was no explanation other than there was a mistake on their web site and the staff I had spoken to previously had also made a mistake…Sorry! End of story. It was also now too late to book anything else and it seemed that I was going to be stuck in Hanoi for at least another day. I demanded a meeting with the local manager and was granted this the next morning at 9, but the answer remained no and I still have no idea why she cannot travel.

So to plan B – the train!

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