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;)

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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.

3 months journey lets get goin’

Well, it’s been a while since I published my last post. I wish to write more often so that I will keep my memories.

Here we go now, in Kuala Lumpur again. We decided to start our 3 months right here in the city which never sleeps. It’s 2 in the morning but the airport doesn’t seem to know what is bed time.
People sleeps everywhere, on the floor, benches, chairs, in the cafe shops, dining, eating, waiting…
Still you can also catch the bus to Kuala Lumpur main city. Is will cost 10 RYT and if it’s before 6am you will either need to take taxi or wait for the first train to arrive and take you to your hotel.
We decided to stay in bukiet bintang, which is actual city center of Kuala Lumpur. Unfortunately due to high season,we couldn’t early check in to our hotel and were forced to take another way more expensive room. As we already have been to Kuala Lumpur, we just dine in local restaurants, stroll around and wait for our next flight to Langkawi.

Langkawi is island in Malaysia. Unfortunately this is what I can say. After our trip to Bali, Phuket or PhiPhi Island we don’t have to many good things to say about our stay in Langkawi. There is no another transportation here but taxis. 10 minutes ride will cost you around 6usd which is bit expensive for asia and more important in comparison to for example Bali. Yet hotels are also way more expensive with worst standard. First night we were staying in guest house in the village, which didn’t have anything to offer, moreover happened to be disturbing at night due to noisecoming out from the street and walk to the beach was just 10 minutes but on the way back in the evening there was no light on the streets which made us feel bit insecure.
Next day we move to different mote in main town. It was ok but as I said there is not too much to do in Langkawi especially during monsoons. We did parasailing which was amazing but we were ripped off as we didn’t check the prices with local agents. Also we did island hooping which was actually last minute before our flight to Hanoi.

To be honest we couldn’t wait when we gonna leave the island. It was expensive. Yes, probably if you don’t live in Asia you won’t find it much expensive but for us it was.

On our way to Hanoi we’ve got land over in Kuala. Lumpur. We had to sleep at the airport while waiting for our flight. I need to say that I am fun more of Singapore airport as it’s also airport for connecting flight where people can sleep in nice chairs, on the carpet or benches which is plenty of then. Kuala Lumpur even thought its so popular for overnight stay doesn’t offer to much that late open restaurants.

See you in Hanoi

Indonesia, Balikpapan…somewhere in the middle

Did I mention in previous post that I miss China. Now I miss it more. Long story short, we left Kuala lumpur and after 3h flight landed in…Balikpapan. Yes, you read it right. I’ve never hear about this place before, although to get to Bali, its happened to be cheapest thru this small city and after that one more on our way to Bali- Surabaya. We thought that its even good and we can see more of Indonesia. Beaten paths are not always so excited and we avoided flight thru Jakarta due to flood happened there two weeks before. Anyway we are here in Balikpapan and after obtaining our visas on arrival-25$ each or 250000 idr. Ok, we have slightly problem with converting this currency to Chinese RMB, finally figured it out 1$ equal to 10000idr which means 1550 idr. We thought we got it but, couldn’t be more wrong, we still have in mind, 7000idr for water? Do they cheat on us?
Currency here is crazy but anyway, after paying for visa, we spent around 1h to immigration. Immigration officer nicely pasted visa into my passport and we went thru luggage check up. On the airplane flight attendant inform s that we don’t have to fill out declaration form if we don’t have anything to declare. She was wrong. We had to and because we didn’t have it and also maybe because we were last ones they decided to check our luggage. I’ve got scared a little, not like I carry drugs or something but I read those stupid stories, how old British woman is in ten jail coz somebody ask her to carry marihuana. Anyway after check all and everything in our bags they let us go. I like china though. They don’t do that, sometimes after immigrations they will check your luggage, especially when you are flying form Moscow;) but they don’t go inside your luggage. But anyway Asia is ok if it comes to airport immigration. They don’t ask you to take off your shoes, you don’t need to take out your liquids. There is not so much people in the line. In China they don’t ask you why you are here, where you are staying etc. simple, easy.
We are here in Balikpapan. We wanted to take some bus to city center but could find any and had no choice. Taxis are cheap. Trip to the city center, don’t get scared-45000 idr- 5$. Very nice.
Taxi driver dropped us off next to the shopping mall, and guess what? This small city has even Starbucks. Ok, but we need to find hotel. Here it is, beautiful big, 4 stars hotel. Price 500000idr, it took a while to calculate but yes price is nice. Lets take it. After paying we needed to take lift for employees as for guest was broken. It’s ok but when we get to the floor, no it cannot be true, carpet, doors disaster, maybe room will be good. Nope, smell like cigarettes, old furnitures, disgusting. We went down stairs , R throw the key on the counter and said that we are not staying and want our money back, how they get those 4 stars anyways?
Surprising but they’ve give our money back. Lesson learnt, never ever trust to the hotels stars in Asia. Here hotels can have 5 starts but standard is usually really bad. Go with franchisers, in which you can trust. Those are usually cheaper than in Europe and standard is the same like in Europe.
After living our stuff we went to the city. The thing surprised us, drive thru ATM. Ok, I used them in States, but never ever seen them in Poland or even in China and here we go another shock in Balikpapan.
Street stalls. Yeap, we needed to try local food. The problem was, nobody can speak English, we try to show, point explain. Nothing worked out. Finally we left. Situation repeat from china. People stare, people don’t speak English. I think it’s normal for small cities. People stare coz its not common for small cities to have foreigners, people don’t speak English, because they don’t need it. Different in Kuala Lumpur, everybody could speak English, but 60km away, at airport for cheap airlines, people don’t speak English! We had problem even in ordering food. China is not so different in this point.
Ok, but lets try to have some local food. We saw that nice restaurant in the corner. It was simple dining with local food. Waitress couldn’t speak English as well but they had at least menu in English so we just pointed what we want. Food what amazing. Served really nice, like in nice restaurant and taste- awesome. And at the end, we paid, 50000idr- 5 $. Even in China in the cheapest stall on the street you wouldn’t find food so cheap and most important, so good!
Indonesia I love you!

What to say I love you Indonesia.

Chinatown in Malaysia

It’s 2 in the morning and we are landing at the Malaysian airport. This Spring Festival we decided to spend in Malaysia and Indonesia. I would love to be by that time in China but it was chance for us to go and travel.
So here we are in Malaysia, its night it’s warm and its busy. I’ve never seen airport full of people as I saw now. Restaurants open, people are sleeping everywhere or waiting till the morning to take a bus to hotel or take a flight early morning. We also, decide to wait at the airport before we will go to the hotel and do check in. We stayed there for 3h and afterwards took air asia bus to the city. We were lucky and they didn’t ask us to pay. Our hotel, located in china town, didn’t have any problems for early check in. Uffff. Actually for almost 6h we were sleeping. Then we went to see what city has to offer. There is free bus which goes to different part of city also from china town.
It’s called “go kl”. This way we went do butik bintang- the commercial center of kl.
Malaysia is Muslim country so you will feel the difference between China and Malaysia. In china Muslim Chinese don’t dress clothes like for example women here. In Malaysia the women cover all the body including face or only face is uncover. In china usually Muslim Chinese women cover body but by wearing regular clothes and of course covers the head.
Also in Malaysia you will find trains divided by coaches only for women and coeducational one.
We’ve tried to find some Malaysia restaurant but its so difficult and Malaysia food is actually Indian food or Chinese food or even mix of both those kinds. There is a lot of indians and Chinese in this country, so actually I don’t know how Malaysians look like.
As I said we are staying in china town, yes we came from chin to stay in china town in Malaysia. They say that Kuala Lumpur and china town here never sleeps. Well actually stalls after 11 pm are closed and dinings the same. But china town is interesting on its own. It looks like china but smaller. There is a lot of fakes and you can do nice shopping here for cheap clothes and accessories.
In comparing to china, Malaysia is expensive. The hotels are more expensive, food is more expensive and actually everything is more expensive. But for western people, ok I’m from Europe but live in China for a while already that I can say China is cheaper but Thailand the cheapest.
Today we went to see batu caves. It takes around 30 minutes from china town and only 1 myr.
Batu caves is really nice spot to go out of the city. You need to climb 250 steps to get there and it would be nicer view to see if its cleaner but monkeys just make big trash dump with this place. One monkey actually attacked our backpack and took out can of red bull. When we’ve done we decide to taste South Indian food which is vegetarian and really tasty.

Its one day left here in Kuala Lumpur but so far I like mix of the culture here, and I always have sympathy to the Muslim countries which I adore. But Malaysia is not only Muslim country, its country full of indians, Chinese, whites, and many other who live here, travel here or just stay for sometime. Everybody can speak English here, totally different than in China. Maybe because its mo touristic place. In china you won’t find so many tourist and you won’t find people speak English. People don’t look at you or stare at you because sure here they see a lot of tourists.
Also compare. To China people here are so nice, helpful and smile at you when they are helping you. The most positive people I’ve ever seen so far.
But be honest I miss a little my China.

Resident permit in China

Christmas wasn’t as I expected. Actually Christmas Eve we spent in polish restaurant in Foshan near Guangzhou. I was really excited to go there. Only one polish restaurant in south of China and it Christmas, has to be somehow close to polish celebration. Actually it wasn’t. But anyway after few shots of zoladkowa Gorzka we left. Outside it was big nice celebration, parades and a lot of fun. Pictures unfortunately are missing as we accidentally lost the phone somewhere on our way.
On the second day of Christmas we decided- yes we are going to Poland. I’ve had mix feelings about that. One part of me wanted to sty in nice and warm China, the other wanted to go and meet with the family.
In Poland we spent 3 weeks. 3 long boring weeks. Yes, there is not too much to do during the winter there. We shuffle the driveway off the snow, we slept at 5 in the evening we the most important enjoyed polish food.
But another thing we finally proceed my working visa for China.
It’s not easy to actually do it, especially if you try to get all the documents by your own.
The most difficult part is to obtain employment license from Labour Ministry. You need to fill in thousand of forms and wait until they tell you something is missing but yeah, in my situation as I’ve got already my employee ID I didn’t need employment license but we thought lets do it in the case.
Embassies also require invitation letter from duly authorize unit. This document is totally difficult to get and actually we didn’t even try to do it. We checked with my Embassy and somehow they didn’t require that kind of invitation. Lucky me!
The last thing is health check up, as I did it already in China on the official form I didn’t have to do it in Poland.
With those documents I applied for visa and here we go after few they I’ve got my working visa. What a beautiful day!
Long weeks in Poland passed away and we are back in China. First thing we went to do it was work permit which require a lot of paperwork again but we went thru it and after one day we’ve had my work permit. I finally received my resident permit. The happiest day in this year.

About Chinese. again

Chinese are very loud when it comes to conversation on the phone. Especially if you are traveling you will realize what it means. Ok, they talk not only on the bus, in the cafe or on the street. Its not the problem they talk but they talk so loud that if you even would like to rest on your way on the bus you cannot. There worst thing they will pick up the phone and talk during yoga class and they don’t care you came here to focus one thing only. If you say something they will look at you with big surprise on their face. Chinese usually don’t say sorry or please. They will say: ” go there”, “come”, ” do this”. They won’t say “could you…”, ” please help me” etc. they are usually not so polite.
Last time we were witnesses at the cafe. There was that couple, they come to the cafe and the girl with small girl voice said that she doesn’t want to stay here. They left but after 5 minutes they come back. The girl with madness at her face don’t want to seat there and here. Chinese have world for that: sa jiao. The girl actually act like little girl, and expect guy to take care of her, all the things even if she can deal with all the things herself. She acts like little girl when she cannot get what she wants. I read it’s really common for Chinese girls, the most surprising things what I saw here is when guy carrying girl’s pierce. It often happens that guy carries girlfriends bag on the shoulder like his own. It makes smile on my face. Its really helpful when your bag is heavy and big but when it’s small little pierce, there is something which not supposed to happen.
For me another surprising thing in Chinese is when people, especially girls say to you how beautiful you are. It doesn’t in my country. Girls don’t say to each other, hey you are so beautiful!
Here it’s really common and girls dont have any problems to say that. Today some people come to see apartment we are renting, and women who was one of those people, instead of looking at the apartment, she was looking at me and saying how beautiful I’m. If you are really white, but you cannot be tanned and your skin have to be purely white, you are beautiful. It’s western countries usually people try to get tan and more tan they are more better it looks, they think. Here is opposite.
We are on our way to Poland. Christmas are gone but we decide to go as we probably won’t find time to go in near future. Change 17 C degrees into -5. We will see.