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Saigon 2 - The End

VIETNAM | Sunday, 24 December 2006 | Views [1935] | Comments [1]

Gary back at home (sweet home), reunited with Dax

Gary back at home (sweet home), reunited with Dax

So it was our last day in Vietnam, in South East Asia. We had some money left and went shopping to spend every last bit (it would go a lot further in Vietnam than in England), had a HUMONGOUS meal and got everything ready for the trip to the airport.

We were total geeks and got there about 4 hours early. There were no Cathay Pacific check in desks open so we sat down and read for a bit. After a while Gary decided to go and enquire where we could go and pick up our tickets - when we brought them we were told to pick them up at the airport. The lady at the desk was confused and sent us somewhere else, they sent us back again, we were sent seomwhere else. Finally, it seemed that no one had any idea about our 'ticket pick up' arrangement, apparently it had never been done before at the airport in Ho Chi Minh (saigon). We started getting a bit worried and just a little annoyed. Cathay Pacific called British Airways who we were booked with from Hong Kong onwards and they said the only way to get the tickets was to come to the ticket office in the city and pay for tickets there! But we had already paid! And we didn't have time to go back into the city (about 45 minutes each way). We were given a phone number to call the BA office and were told that if BA could guarantee to print a ticket for us in Hong Kong and send Cathay Pacific a confirmation, we could fly. Phew - that should be fine, we thought, because we've paid for a ticket. BUT NO. BA didn't have our ticket details, lastminute.com had them. And on it went... we started to resign oursleves to the fact that something had majorly messed up and our guts began to churn, the tears began to pour (out of Deena's eyes, not Gary's) and we were well and truly pissed off and made quite a scene at the airport. The flight was closing and we couldn't get on - we had already been imagining ourselves at home. We were totally gutted when we got a taxi back into town.

Deena immediately got on the internet phone to family and to lastminute.com to see what had happened while Gary went to find us a hotel (in the end we stayed at the same place and they were really kind to us). Lastminute.com could not do anything for us as it was late at night in Vietnam. That night we took the sleeping pills!

The next morning we couldn't believe we were still in Vietnam and were so worried. Lastminute.com had already taken the money for the tickets and we didn't have much left. We were dreading how much new tickets would cost at such late notice so close to Christmas, there might not even be any flights available! We were terrified we'd be stuck for weeks, we had spent most of our money and had thrown away stuff like underwear and shampoo. We spent most of the day at the ticket office and speaking to people on the phone trying to organise lastminute.com to get us some new tickets. In the end, we became really good at the technicalities of the travel industry but unfortunately lasminute.com were blaming British Airways and British Airways were blaming lastminute.com. It was all a complete nightmare, the only people not to blame were us and the only people suffering mentally and financially were us. We researched all the laws and started talking like lawyers about various acts and regulations. To cut a very long and stressful story short, we decided to buy new tickets (which didn't turned out to be too expensive but still left us totally in the red for coming back to UK) and deal with it all from England. At this point, we just really wanted to get home and it was very difficult with time differences and expensive overseas phone calls.

So two (very long) days after our first trip to the airport, we were back in a taxi doing the same route. This time we had paper tickets in our hand, but we both still had butterflies. The first problem had been so illogical that anything could happen this time round. We got through check in ok and started to relax. Then we got to passport control. It seemed to be taking longer than usual and the guy kept looking at Deena in a funny way. The other passport man was asking Gary for his return ticket and identity card, they couldn't dpeak English and it was hard explaining that we had come in by bus and only had a one way ticket and English people don't have identity cards. Then the lady from check in appeared, 'Excuse me Sir, there is a security issue with your bag. Please leave your passport here and come with me'. Gary was led off, and Deena's heart starting going a million miles an hour. It was like being in 'Mignight Express' or something. Maybe someone had planted drugs in the bag? So many thoughts were going through our heads. Meanwhile, Deena's passport guy was not happy and declared, 'You never go England in your life'. She was shocked, how had he come to this conclusion? It turned out he didn't think she 'looked English' and was suspicious that there were lots of Dubai stamps and that the passport was issued in Dubai. For a proffesional passport man, he was a total ignoramus! He didn't understand that it was a British passport issued in Dubai. It took 4 men about 45 minutes scratching their heads and Deena's rather angry explanations for them to believe she wasn't a crazy Arab terrorist and let her through. Meanwhile Gary was back and the 'security problem' was a present we'd brought that looked like a gun but wasn't at all! So we got through but our nerves were totally shot. We were still expecting everything to go wrong at any minute.

As soon as we were out of Vietnam, however, everything went ok. Hong Kong airport was organised and our transit went smoothly. Although we were stuck in horrible, squashy middle seats on the 13 hour flight to London we were just thankful to be going home. Back in England, the cold air never tasted so sweet!

It's been really hardwork trying to sort out all the paperwork to get our refund from lastminute.com (PLUS compensation) but we're willing to bombard them until we get what we're entitled to. We're pleased to be back for Christmas but PLEASE PLEASE DO NOT buy from lastminute.com

MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone, and a HAPPY NEW YEAR 2006.

This is where our story end and thanks for reading and commenting! You've kept us company along the way!

(Now, where are we going next....?)

Tags: Scams & Robberies



Dindins and Gary!
Wow! Sounds like you guys had quite a stressful time getting back to ol' Blighty, to say the lease!
I'm sure all in all you had a completely eye-opening experience and will have many happy memories to bring back with you from your time in SE Asia, but i'm sure you're pleased as pie to be back again!
Enjoy yourselves in the cold weather (it only got really cold about a week ago) and make the most of the Christmas festivities - it may not be as Christmassy as some other European countries, but it's a bit more convincing than the giant M&M Christmas displays i saw in some of your photographs - ha ha!
Take care and speak with the both of you soon!
Merry Christmas!
Jamzoo xXx

  James MP Dec 24, 2006 4:31 PM

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Deena Gary Charlie and Dax in the garden in Colchester, Essex

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