On a plane to Vietnam

< travels >

August 1, 3-4pm, CX791 to Hanoi, Vietnam

The plane lurches. It's an old Air France plane. Here I was thinking it'd be Cathay Pacific. Now, I wonder what my money pays for. Take-off was the worst- like riding a roller coaster, up and down, lurch to the right, up and down, lurch to the left.

If I wasn't such in a good mood I'd call this a shitty day. yesterday was okay, but didn't get much done, ran out of HK$ pretty quickly and had started out late so didn't feel I had enough time to go back out. My flight was at three, so there's always tomorrow, I thought.

Mucked about the apartment, watched a rainstorm wash Hong Kong into greyness, only nearby buildings visible, the rain coming down in sheets that wavered with the wind.

Evening the rain stopped. My friend came home and we went out to meet up with Bob, another guy we both knew from Taiwan. We all headed for Gunga Din an Indian restaurant. We stuffed our faces and naturally outdid my budgeted money; good though, worth it. Bob was in his usual form, but lacking new stories, I made due with the old, dinner was still animated at least.

Watched Star Trek at home, after Chicago General some other LA Law like drama series, looked good anyway, despite myself. It's an old Star Treks, the usual acting, but fun anyway. Or at least funny.

Meant to wake up early when my friends headed off for work, but my usual eager to rise body betrayed me and it was already quarter to ten, already a couple of hours behind schedule. Ran down the hill after a quick wash and shower to do my exchange and shopping.

Naturally I forget a half a dozen things.

Get home packed in a hurry, left a note flowers and a book behind as thanks, and was off hauling my bags off to the airport.

Naturally it begins raining.

Taxis shake their hands and wave me off. Didn't like the bag I expect.

I take the subway to get to the airport bus, get the bus, and at the airport try to find some of the forgotten items.

Scene: airport store:

-Hello, 52mm lens cap please!, I say to the sales person. He searches.
-HKD 60 (about US$7). Want to buy a rubber lens cap?
-60?! No, no rubber thing. do you have camera batteries? I ask. He searches
-Batteries 38. Total 98, he writes the price on a piece of paper, and He takes care of another customer. Forget the lens cap, I think
-I'll take the batteries, I say. He looks angry.
-Sorry, we don't have them.
-But you just gave me the price.
-don't have, he says shrugs and turns away from me.
-Asshole, I fume.
I decide to look for headphones. I point to one with another salesman at the other end of the store.
-How much, I ask.
-450 ($50+)
-Forget it, I say. I may be stupid for forgetting I think. But I ain't dumb enough to buy here.

I fume through customs and boarding and now I'm here not so satisfied by the seafood, plastic noodles and warm coke. The roll was okay.

Meanwhile the plane lurches some more. It turns out that maybe it was okay that I didn't eat so much, I might get sick.

Of course I was also expecting me to be one of the few backpackers on the plane. I figured Vietnam was going to be a brand new place for a Westerner to discover, I would be followed around by secret service men, like I always used to read about when people went to Russia in the early 80s.

I get on the plane and it's half full of either foreign businessmen or backpackers, all of them flashing a copy of the Lonely Planet guide just like mine. Sigh.

One thing noticed at the airport in Hong Kong, so many Philippinos. Never noticed it before when I came before. They're going to take over Hong Kong before the Chinese do.

The ex-pat English, American and Canadians are so different. The comments I met from some of those border on the derogatory. They hire them for maids to keep their apartments clean though. No problem with that.

Every Sunday about 15,000 Philippino maids gather on one street in Central Hong Kong. Very strange. No place else to go maybe or like the feeling of togetherness.

Then there are the expats who've lived in Hong Kong all their lives and hardly speak a word of Cantonese, or know any of the customs. My friend was saying that he knew more Cantonese then they. After only living there 2 years, he was telling them about the Chinese culture.

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