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Late to Laos

VIETNAM | Sunday, 28 December 2008 | Views [1266]

After a terrible mix up with flight times, I am now leaving for Laos tomorrow and I have to spend the night in a dreadful airport hotel.
Due to my current predicament, the rain and a newly contracted flu, I am feeling less than happy.

I did well enough getting to the airport, leaving at 3:15pm in order to arrive over two hours before my flight was due to leave at 6:30pm. I found the right place to catch the shuttle bus from (it was only USD2.50) and got to the airport at around 4:15pm. During the 45min bus ride I chatted with some American backpackers and felt very happy, even despite the high pollution burning holes in my pupils. (I think the pollution was especially high today because this is the only time its actually hurt my eyes.)

Once at the airport I checked the flight board. After one quick glance, I was struck with the sudden realisation that my flight was due to leave in 15mins time. There is was in green neon - Laos Airlines, Vientiane, 4:30pm. NO OTHER FLIGHTS TODAY.

My heart pounded and I ran around frantically, lugging 13kgs on my back and 7kgs on my front. Hanoi Noibai Airport is TINY but for some reason it still took me a good 10mins to locate the hidden Loas Airlines desk. I then waited for another 10mins before I was informed that the time on my ticket was the time for the Luang Probang flight, NOT the Vientiane one. I didn't feel angry because it was my fault for not DOUBLE checking my flight details, something which I usually make a point of doing. Instead of angry I felt helpless. What could I do but except it and try to find an alternative?

Two distressing and confusing conversations later I had a new ticket (they transferred the old ticket) for the soonest flight to Vientiane - leaving at 4:30pm tomorrow. I was informed I could if I wanted, buy another ticket through Vietnam Airlines if I still wanted to leave today, but that would obviously mean paying again and there was no guarantee that there would be any spare seats.

I sat down for a coffee and decided what to do. I could go back into the city and find Ana, the American girl who I met yesterday. Or, I could hold up in an airport hotel for the night. It was a choice between taking the 45mins trip back into town or spending money on a hotel room which would hopefully be half decent. I decided on the hotel. Then at least I could relax and organise my self instead of getting distracted by bars and backpackers.

There is only ONE hotel in the area surrounding the airport. This is where I am currently. It's dreary, shabby and painfully expensive. My room looks like something out of Faulty Towers, in the threadbare 70's sense, and the staff are few and far between. As far as I can work out there is one porter (who was fast asleep in his chair when I arrived), one lady on the front desk (who kept laughing when I was checking in) and another woman who works in the hotel "bar". The bar in five tables and chairs, some grubby glasses and a few cheap bottles of vodka.

After I checked in, I went for a walk. Being that this is airport country, there isn't much arround and I think my time here will be the closest I get to small town Vietnam before I leave tomorrow. There are airport related buildings, a few pho restaurants and some farms.

I stopped in for dinner at a tiny little pho place about a 20min walk from my hotel. Due to the staffs lack of English and my lack of Vietnamese, I was eventually served with an entire chicken. When I say entire chicken I mean ENTIRE CHICKEN. Head, legs, wings...everything down to the comb (the red protuberance on the top of a chickens head).

After my snake lunch a few days ago, the sight of an entire chicken sitting on my plate was too much for me too handle, so after a feeble attempt at picking out some of the white meat, I paid and left; all the while feeling quite defeated about... EVERYTHING. I'd just spend my last change on an uneaten chicken and the nearest ATM was back at the airport. I slinked back to the hotel and sulked in my room.

I haven't had many low points during my trip so far, but after missing my flight...I feel as if I've hit a rather self indulgent, sulky patch. Hopefully it will take me no more than the next 12hrs to wallow in my own self pity, before I'm back in high sprits and on my way to Laos.


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