Masterpiece Trip 2017, Naka Island, Vietnam

Naka Island -> Hanoi (Transfer Day)

We got up, had breakfast, and checked out. We didn’t see kitty again, but I had left some meat out for her the night before. Hopefully she got it because a) it was raining very hard, and b) I don’t like to think I accidentally fed the snake. They had us hit the gong once for ‘goodbye’ and away we went back on the boat to the mainland. We had the same efficient boat driver who helped us find our taxi and got us on our way. This time our driver was very cautious and there wasn’t any music. He was also more expensive. Safety has a price, and that price is 150 baht.

We were flying from Phuket to Hanoi, but we had a layover in Bangkok. We really weren’t sure if we were supposed to go to the domestic terminal (our first destination) or international terminal (our final destination). Sal guessed domestic, and since Sal is right about 98% more times than I am, we went with his guess. Sal was having an off day, I guess, because we got to the check-in counter and were told we needed to be at the international terminal, so we started hoofing it. We already knew it wasn’t too far since we had walked it when we arrived when we were trying to find the metered taxi. We started seeing signs for a shuttle bus to the next terminal and a man noticed me reading it and waved me down asking if we wanted to take the bus as he was the driver, so it worked out pretty well. We gave him a tip once we got to the international terminal and after he helped us with our luggage. Big smile.

Now that we were at the right terminal we found the Air Asia gate and checked in. We then made our way through passport control, only to find that my stamped departure card was missing. This made no sense because I literally had checked when we were in the bus to make sure both our passports had the cards. The security woman told me we had to go back to the check in counter, which was fine by me because I was convinced she had it there as I didn’t have it anywhere in my purse. We walked back up to her station and she handed us blank departure cards to fill out. I told her that I had one that was already filled out and stamped. She looked around her desk and then looked on the floor and there it was. Smooth move, Air Asia. I mean, apparently we could have gotten a blank one and filled it out, etc., but really… don’t lose people’s documents. She giggled and said, “oops! Sorry!”.

Our flight to Bangkok left on time and got there a few minutes early. We got through security quickly and ended up with about a 5 hour layover in the International Terminal. There really is nothing there except restaurants and a lounge. I thought there might be a massage place, but no luck. Shoot! We ended up getting Japanese food for lunch, then wandered over to ask how much a day pass was for the lounge. The price was right and included food and drinks for two hours. Do’h. Shouldn’t have stopped for lunch! Oh, well. We chilled out in the lounge until it was time for our flight and I got a couple blogs done. These things take forever!

The flight to Hanoi was only two hours and we were in the bulkhead seats so got to deplane first. Unfortunately another plane landed right before us and most of those people made it to immigration before we did. It was around this time we discovered that Project Fi doesn’t work in Vietnam, so we’d only have the free WiFi at the Airport and no cellular service. We got there and it was confusing at first what you needed to do. Since we were here for three weeks, we needed a Visa. We made our way to where the line was forming and it was a little bit of a mess. There was a group of guys who were not paying attention and causing a gap that people were using to cut the line. I yelled out, “HEY!” and everyone turned around and looked at me…except the group of guys. Eventually a security person told them to move up. After you give your application you wait for them to have your Visa ready and you give them your money and passport photos. That took over 30 minutes. The only thing we could do to keep ourselves amused was look at the projected passport pic of the person whose Visa was ready and try to match it to the people in the waiting group. Some of those people have really changed since their passport photos! I was glad Sal’s photo was projected and not mine (you could go up with your party and they’d finish everyone’s paperwork together).

We got through getting our passport stamped, then found our luggage. The next challenge was finding the driver. The woman who set up one of our tours also set up a driver to pick us up and take us to our hotel. Now let me tell you what the setup at Hanoi airport is like: when you pass through customs there are two exits you can take, as opposed to one. So we had no idea which exit the driver would be at, and it was pretty chaotic. We checked both exits, waited a few minutes, and walked around again. We couldn’t find him. After 15 minutes I got on WhatsApp and tried to find out what was going on. I wasn’t hearing anything back, so I emailed our other tour guide who recommended the one who set up the transfers, and he called her. Then we went through a whole rigmarole of her trying to find the driver. Eventually he found us. He didn’t have a sign, so I don’t know how he thought he could. I was tired and grumpy, to say the least. It had been a very long day.

We drove about 45 minutes to the airport and he dropped us off. I did not tip him. His big smile for us disappeared very quickly. We got to our hotel, La Selva, and were greeted warmly and professionally. We were given juice and fruit and lots of local & hotel information. Crist, the man who checked us in, saw we were tired and said, “maybe we will talk about this tomorrow!”. And oh what a day tomorrow would be… 

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