2 travel days and we are finally in Mui Ne on the coast. The sand is between the toes and the waves crashing in.
On Thursday for the first time in flying them the flight on Air Asia was delayed. Indeed most of their afternoon services seemed to be suffering a similar fate. Not quite as bad as the new airline i chatted about earlier in the week Lion. All their services were cancelled for the evening. I was reading that they are starting with two aircraft and slowly growing the fleet as they expand the route network. On paper it all looks good and the PR boys have fun with the story. In reality of course you are flying with no back up aircraft . nothing to call up if one goes unserviceable or if a nightly engineering check over runs. Then you just have to admit defeat and cancel the services and the PR boys all start running for cover and refer all phone calls to the Managing Director’s office.
Air Asia in the end were 50 minutes late and despite all the chat from the cockpit about making up time we arrived 50 minutes late as well. In these days of fuel conservation it is rare unless the weather is nice to you to make up time lost during the days flying programme.
Visa on arrival in Vietnam I never expected to be an easy process and so was prepared for delay. You battle your way to the front of the queue as there is no formal queuing process. Once there you attract the attention of one of the three visa men sitting behind a large glass screen . You thrust your form ( which your tour operator or travel agent has sent you) through the small gap with 2 of the four photos they insist on and your passport. He gives the form not a second glance,keeps your passport and takes your two photos and attaches them to another form and tells you to go away and fill it in. You now fight for space to be able to do this on something firm so you can write. This form asks you all the questions that the form your friendly travel agent sent you and you fill it all in again except, of course, he has your passport with all that info on it. This causes panic in some though when they battle back to tell the guy he looks uninterested and tells you to leave anything you don’t know blank. New form in hand you fight your way to the front careful to trample all in your path out of the way and hand the new form and the US dolars $45 for a month $95 for 3 months to another guy. Only then can you sit down and await someone calling your name. Now don’t forget these people quite understandably don’t do western names so you need to try to imagine your name in Vietnamese and listen for Milhayel Woness or something even weirder and then spring to the front of the line again to collect you passport. The flight landed an hour ago so now you need to find your baggage as they take them off the belt and helpfully drop them around the baggage hall. We found ours tucked away at the back of the hall and out we came job done. If you can then get a visa from the consulate and save yourself the hassle .
Car then to the Novotel Hotel and at 9 p.m. off for something to eat and drink.The driver told us that the local beer is either Saigon which has two brands red label the strong one and green label the weaker one at 4.9%. the other local beer is 333. Now 3 in Vietnamese is ba so ba ba ba is 333 which makes it very easy to remember ! The bar I found did ba ba ba for 14,000 dong or about 40 p for a small bottle. It is is very good beer as well, as is the Saigon which is normally cheaper but not so much fun to order.
For food we wanted Pho which is the local noodle dish with chicken, beef or seafood. I asked the driver where he would go near the hotel and after some debate he told us.
Trust me it wasn’t going to win any Michelin stars but an huge bowl was 27,000 dong or about 75p and it tasted great.