Kolkata

We are already in Mumbai but I need to first write about our experience in Kolkata as it’s our first destination in India. We have arrived in Kolkata late night so while we are sitting in the taxi it’s was around 1 am. Well the view throughout the window surprised us completely. Hundreds of people sleeping on the streets in their rickshaws, on the dumpster, just everywhere! I was shocked as I have never ever seen something like that. More in the city, it was getting worst. Trash everywhere, dust in your nose so that you cannot even breath. Finally we arrived in the neighborhood are hotel supposed to be. It was residential area but we couldn’t find our hotel and neither taxi driver nor people living their didn’t know where it could be. We were roaming around about an hours and had enough already so we asked the driver to take us to some another hotel whatever. He took us to neighborhood which was the worst one, though later we got to know that is almost the city center and close to the place where all travelers stay in. At night it looked terrible, in the morning it was quite the same. First hotel when they saw V as he indian they have asked him for 960 rupees per room. After seen me price change up to 3200rupees. Later on they didn’t even wanted to check us in. Maybe because they were scared. I don’t know. Well next hotel was ok with us and we stayed their in the nice room unfortunately with molt on the walls and some bugs in the bucket sitting in the bathroom. I was so tired but could fall asleep easily as it was just after Dival-Indian the most important festival so people had to use all the leftover they had from firecrackers. I have to mention that all those hotels were hiding behind big gates in front which people were sleeping, just on the ground.
In the morning we moved to different hotel, almost all occupied by foreigners. Our room was with nice big window and view on the street so we could observe people.
Well, Kolkata doesn’t belong to pleasant places to travel. Poverty is visible everywhere. Trash in everywhere all over the street. No single trash bin. It’s like all city is one dumpster. Unfortunately.
People live on the street, either live sleep on the ground under the sky or built their own tents with some boxes, fabrics, anything they’ve found on the street. Also all human needs are finalized and done on the street in the front of all people. Street is the toilet, home, shower, kitchen just everything. I am writing that with pity. I really felt sorry for this people. I didn’t want to take picture, I felt like I am going into the privacy of those people living like that. After watching slum dog millionaire you don’t even know if you should give money to the poor child approaching you or its part of the company they are forced to work for. Some people working hard, pulling carts with people just barefoot like animals. Some of them just sleeping on the street for whole of the time. One rickshaws man approach us and offered rickshaws ride when we refused he said “no ride but we still have to eat, right”. :/
All tourist as we observed from our awesome window were just roaming around the same street for hours or sitting in the hotels restaurant and thing or asking each other what to do. I was surprised when heard or read that some tourist stayed here for two weeks! I really could believe that somebody could stay here for so long. For us 3 days were too much. I just couldn’t understand what you can do here. We went to few historic places but all the time were approach by people wanted to sell something or sell their service. Moreover almost everywhere smells bad, dust just sitting in your nose and you need to watch out where your feet step. Maybe something wrong with us but we couldn’t enjoy this city, how one can if see so much poverty.
Also is I was surprise even that before I was warned by V. That Indians look. Yes, they look at you from bottom right to the top and give you that look, women- kind of like without respect and man I don’t even have to say it but respect all women traveling to India solo.
This is my first India experience. Maybe not the good one but we will try next in Delhi.

Thailand, here we go again

We supposed to go to Laos and cambodia as a part of our previous itinerary. Unfortunately due to some visa issues, as V. Couldn’t get a visa to thailand from cambodia by land we needed to change our plans. Ok maybe the was another reason, as we don’t like to look behind our shoulder every time we go somewhere or be scammed and we read to many complains from travelers about both those countries. Well maybe it’s not the reason to cancel the trip but yet we didn’t feel like it’s the time for us to go there. Thailand here we go. But hey not so fast!!! Vietnam didn’t want to let us go so easy. Again visa problem. Indians can obtain visa on arrival at the airports in thailand. They will required some bank statements or proof that you have enough money to stay and also return ticket. Yes but as it would be our 3rd time there they never ever ask for those things. Just pay visa fee and here is thailand. I guess man airlines clerk felt more than just a clerk. He asked V. To give him return ticket. We’ve had ticket but stated that he will leave thailand in 3 weeks. Nope it’s not good, visa will be issue only for 15 days. He didn’t let him go even when we insist that he cannot decide that and it’s not his problem that thai immigration never check that but it won’t help. We tried also with airasia to change our previous flight but even we received an email stated that we can change the flight from thailand to Kolkata date due to departure time change, air asia clerk asked us for unbelievable high cost of changing this flight that we could buy new tickets!!! We go mad and forced by airport clerks from both airlines we were trying to change our flight online with poor internet connection it was taking so long that we risked missing our flight. Finally in last minutes we manage to change our flight so we could board.
In thailand they even didn’t ask for return tickets but here you go, People from Saigon airport just wanted to make out life more difficult.
We have finally arrived in thailand. I don’t know why but this country makes us come back all the time.
We didn’t book any hotel and thought we will just find something walk in but we couldn’t be more wrong. All we could find it was nasty old school Miami hotel with extra fee for internet. We were so tired that we didn’t even wanted to look more but for the next days we manage to book nice last minute deal with best western for the same price. Yay.
In thailand the most important is shopping. Well everybody knows that and as we live in china we pay attention on this there is hundred of Chinese coming here for shopping experience. Due to this fact you won’t have any problems using union pay -Chinese issued card which is difficult to use or withdraw money especially in western countries.
In Bangkok we just eat, drink, shop and enjoy.
Few days we also spent in Pattaya. For 124 baths you can take a mini bus from Bangkok ekamei bus station to pattaya. In Pattaya you won’t find to much to do just beach, which is really not convenient, massage shops, spas and go go clubs. Well after few days we will get bored so we just will spend here three days to take the most of this city. By that time we visited floating market-which is the biggest in thailand, went to the beach and tried pancakes with bananas from the street hawker.
Pattaya, I need to mention that is full of Russians. Yes, there is beach there are Russians. It’s remained me of Sanya in china.
Pattaya like all tourist places in Thailand also is filled with old foreigners holding hands with young thai girls but this I will leave without a comment.

It’s time to come back to Bangkok and take another flight this time to India. Well let’s see…

Saigon

After our experience in Hanoi we read on Internet few advices from other travelers about Vietnam but even you are aware of all scams waiting for you, sometimes you just can avoid it.
We arrived in Saigon in the late evening. We already booked the hotel so just hired taxi to take us there. It was in the district 1, place where you meet most of the backpackers and travelers visiting this city. We just asked to taxi driver how much it can cost to get us there. He said 200000 dongs. Meter showed at the end 153000 but he asked us for 200000 as we agreed well we paid but never ever don’t ask for the price just ask to use meter.
Our hotel didn’t have elevator neither window. We needed to climb 5th floor with our luggage and yet the other day we found the better hotel for a cheaper price. It’s off the season so all you need to do is bargain. We also found our restaurant which was the cheapest and I think the better quality food that the others. They have those deals 10000dongs for a bottle beer which I don’t know how do the do that as even in store beer is more expensive.
Saigon has few attraction to see like Notre Dame cathedral, and some mosques and temples. We mostly enjoyed night life by sitting in the restaurant, observing people, and tasting local food.
One day we were enjoying our time in the part while I saw one men hiding behind the tree and quietly trying to grab the backpack of foreigners sitting on the next bench. While V shout at him he start running away and was caught by police man. In few seconds it was like 3 more police men around him and asking him questions. He brought him back to the place where he was hiding and put bat between his hands and back. It was quite shocking for us what just had happened. It was like police was waiting for him to do some mistake.
We start conversation with mentioned foreigners which end up in bar and then some restaurant famous for crab which actually was not worth to go by the way.
The another day we went for another walk and come back by taxi. Unfortunately we realized that meter in the taxi moving so fast which is impossible fast as we already took few taxis before. We asked taxi driver to stop and decide to walk the rest of the way as he happened to be scam.
Another scam story is regarding tuk tuk man. While we were sitting at the table of the street juice shop in front of our eyes stopped tuk tuk with foreign girl getting off. The tuk tuk guy asked her for 30 usd which is quite expensive for the ride. We paid way less because around 7usd for 1 h ride in Hanoi. Well she declined to pay and while he turned his head back she just throw some money on the tuk tuk seat and walked away. When he reliZe that he wasn’t paid enough the followed her and made her come back with him. She ended up giving him all money she got in her pierce which was about 15-20 usd extra. We check on you tube tuk tuk scam in Saigon and it was the same tuk tuk guy as from this story but some people as we read ended up paying 270usd for ride!!!!
Well Saigon is nice city to visit better that Hanoi for sure but all the tourists need to be aware of all the scams waiting for them here. Yes Vietnam is cheap and it should be but only if you stay cautious and won’t fell victim of some scam. Some people would say few dollars won’t make a different, yeah but if that just tell me in advance to hide the reality from me so we can decide if we accept it or not. Not all foreigners are rich and not all of us can afford all the bribes, scams and extra unusual fees. We are here to enjoy not look behind our back coz maybe somebody prepare some trap on us. We find out Vietnam not so good place to enjoy your stay. All those people approaching you trying to sell you things and when you say no after hundreds of time they will give you a look that they want to hurt you we just thought after reading all the stories how wCambodia and Laos people making use of foreigners we though maybe next time. Thailand here we ho again;)

Hanoi you scam

We landed in Hanoi early morning. While our boarding we could observe attitude of Vietnamese people. Well, Rick was pushed and cuter off of the line few time. He said that time: ” Well, it’s gonna to be quite adventure, Vietnamese are aggressive”. I thought that you cannot say that based on this experience but he insisted and said that we will see. He couldn’t be more right ….

At the Hanoi airport you can obtain visa on arrival if you purchased previously letter from some agent. In total you will pay around 60 usd for the visa. Quite expensive. I obtained mine at the Vietnamese consulate in Guangzhou and immigration officer was surprised looking at my visa. Not sure if she could read it, it was in Vietnamese though or maybe she was wandering where Guangzhou is. After sometime she let me in.
From the airport you can take shuttle to the old quarter where the main attractions are. Shuttle costs 2USD. In Vietnam it’s ok if you pay in dollars. Both currencies are accepted.
Our shuttle bus took us to its office in old quarter but before that office manager got in to the shuttle, asked us where we are going and asked for 50000 dong extra for taking us to our hotel. We insist to pay after he take us there. Hotel happened to be 500meters from the office so we refused to pay.
Our hotel was nice and clean with breakfast included for price of 12 usd per night. Yes, in Vietnam you can sleep well for less price, you can eat, drink and travel for less until you won’t get cheat or you can bargain.
A lot of people would say Vietnams is cheap. Yes it is cheap but still they will cheat on you. We went to restaurant which was part of the hotel. When it came to paying I found out that the bill consider meal I didn’t order or I have to say I did but it different price. As we found out the same meal was listed few times in menu: once under vegetarian meals once under meat meal as a waiter or owner assumed I didn’t get anything which was vegetarian even if I consider shrimps as a vegetarian, they were listed under vegetarian and this is what I pointed out to the waitress. Argument with waiter finished in big fight when he asked me to go away, leave his country and go back to my country. He was really rude, aggressive an totally ignoring fact that he made mistake. At the end he throw package of cigarets at me. Well after this experience I was nothing but disappointed in Vietnam.
People approaching you from each side offering souvenirs, glasses, tuk tuks, everything. All you breath is dust and petrol from motorbikes running from each side of the street and all you do is to jump from one place to the another to avoid some accident.
Unfortunately I need to say that there is not much to do in Hanoi but maybe some shopping which I would prefer to go to thailand for that.
Our hotel was nice though, clean with breakfast just for 12usd night.
We decided to leave hanoi as soon as possible. We book sleeping bus to Hue which supposed to be another tourist destination. Bus cost us about 16 usd which was really cheap in compare to other agents had to offer. Off course our pick up was about an hour delayed but it’s ok. Finally when we get to the bus I was ok and all safely we get to Hue. It was still monsoon season in Vietnam so all the time it was raining. Bus stopped next to some hotel which like all hotels in Vietnam was also travel agency. Most of the hotels have travel agency on the side or they offer travel service to the guest. We were approached by hotel owner I guess we insist that we can stay in his hotel. As we already have booked hotel we declined but he also insist to take us to our hotel. We agreed for price of 200 dongs. When we get there he didn’t take the money but try to push us to agree for the tour around the hue. We just said that we will think about it but he decided to pick us up few hours later. Whatever, we prefer to walk around the places and dont like to be push to do something. Anyway we were so tired that we missed him but instead went for walk around the city. Well I really don’t get why this place is listed as a place worth to visit. It was not too much but just regular city with some few historic places we weren’t interested in. We also met bike guy on our way back, so we got chance to give him money back for the ride. We sat in some Italian restaurant bar and enjoyed the rest of the evening.
The next day we went to surprisingly beautiful and historical city called Hoi an. It has amazing architecture, little Chinese town built around the river which looks really spectacular at night.
As we didn’t see any Chinese people in Hanoi this is the place where all of them came. Well where are Chinese it means its place worth to go;)
I have to mention that we didn’t book hotel here. At the bus station they were a lot of vendors just waiting for us. We went to hotel for 12 usd a little far away from the city but with swimming pool free shuttle, which will take you in from of tailor shop belongs to owner of the hotel in the city center but it’s ok. We stayed there also for two days only. The next day we just took bikes so that we could go to the beach. We hadn’t manage to go there as V had small accident and due to some issues with the bike he felt off and cause few wounds on his body. We spend the rest of the day looking for pharmacy and then the way to our hotel. In the evening we took a flight to Saigon but let’s make it another story.