04.11.2011 – 14.11.2011 Cloudy/Rainy 32 °C
We left HCMC really looking forward to getting to the Philippines, not so much because the Philippines was fantastic but because we’d just had enough of being ripped off in Vietnam. Three weeks of being raped is more than enough. Even on our last transaction we were nearly conned. We had some Dong left so went to change it at the counter at the airport, losing about 150P (£2) over what you would get withdrawing it from an ATM. As we waited for our Pesos we were shortchanged 400P (£5.50). I gave the cash and receipt back to the troll behind the glass and she looked at me blankly. I pointed out her mistake and she started hilariously laughing over the top and gave us the right amount. Lucky I’m familiar with the notes because if I had turned and walked then gone back I wouldn’t have had a chance in hell of getting the right sum and she would have pocketed it. Conning bitch.
Our check in desk opened and as expected the Vietnamese Ewoks waiting to board charged to the front. Not being in a rush we waited for the queue to go down. After an hour we joined, eventually getting to the front an hour before the desk closed. I gave her my bag and was asked a question I’ve never been asked in all my years travelling around the world. ‘Can I see your onward ticket please?’. Why would the staff at the check in desk in Vietnam care when I was leaving the Philippines? Luckily we had booked a flight to Hong Kong for three months time. Only problem was the itinerary was in my Gmail account, online. I explained the situation and asked why we needed proof of a forwarding flight but by this time it had escalated to us dealing with a jumped-up tosser who wasn’t interested in explaining. He gave me access to his computer so I could sign in to show him the itinerary – but I forgot my password with instructions on how to reset in Vietnamese! He wasn’t helpful translating in the slightest, instead choosing to continually tell us he was shutting the gate in twenty-minutes and if we hadn’t provided proof of an onward flight by then we were to buy another one with Vietnamese airlines and try to get a refund in Manila or miss the flight. I started to swear. There is no chance of a refund – I’ve tried this before when I couldn’t get to a flight. Some poor Kiwi guy got clobbered for the same reason even though he had an onward ticket – they were saying it wasn’t genuine! Eventually I had a lightbulb moment and remembered the itinerary should be in my emails in Thunderbird as it copies my mail to the hard drive on my laptop. Luckily this turned out to be the case and they let us board, five minutes before he said he was going to shut the gate. After getting through the gate, past immigration and into the departure lounge, me and B looked at each other and said ‘Vietnam – never again’.
Our flight was fine for a 01:30 departure, we even had a spare seat next to us to stretch out a bit. We landed at 04:30 local time, got through immigration, grabbed our bags, caught a taxi to the bus station, Pasay, and waited for the 7am bus to Dagupan City, where my Dad lives. He wasn’t expecting us but we thought we’d surprise him. At 05:40 the Dagupan bound bus decided it didn’t want to wait any longer and so we set off (250P each, about £3.50). Brilliant. Six-hours later (one hour more than usual because of the extended route taken) we arrived exhausted. My Dad seemed surprised.
We kicked about in Dagupan for a further nine days taking in, one Saturday night, Music Warehouse (a kind of old theatre that has the seats ripped out and replaced by tables and chairs to watch live bands), Pigar-Pigar (a beef dish served with rice and gravy on garden furniture by the side of the road) and hiring a hut with videoke down the beach until 7am. After writing off the Sunday we headed to travel Northern Luzon (second time for me) on the Monday.