Saturday, November 13, 2010

Vietnam Holiday Ten

Last day and not looking forward to the long journey home. Sleep in late and load up on our last breakfast. We lounge around the hotel room as long as we can, making sure everything is packed. We aren't looking forward to another tortuous Jetstar flight in Amistad class. We check out and ask them to hold our bags while we go have a last cheap meal and look around the town. We make friends with a little black cat tied up outside a small shop. His behaviour says he is friends with the owners of the shop, and privately I hoped he was a family pet. We had been careful to avoid markets where livestock and meat was for sale because on day two our guide had pointed out a dog meat restaurant.
Our lift to Cam Ranh airport arrived just ahead of a large storm building over Nha Trang. Cam Ranh airport was a US airbase during the Vietnam War and was used as a base for Soviet bombers for decades afterwards, but apart from a few blast shields much like those at Darwin airport and there was no trace of its military past. Another thing missing from the airport is anywhere to sit down while waiting for a flight before passing security. The exception was a cafe with exceptionally comfy looking lounge chairs. We sat down and carefully nursed an ice coffee and a fruit juice costing an exorbitant $4 for the hour or so before boarding the flight.
The thunderstorm caught up with us on the flight back to Saigon. We were rocked with turbulence all the way, the seatbelt sign remained on and a woman screamed during a particularly rocky patch. I can't say enough good things about Vietnam Airlines, though, comfortable seats, new aeroplanes, professional crews.
We had a long wait til our flight to Darwin, after a couple of hours we were allowed to check in and passed through security and found a little Japanese restaurant to eat a decent meal, likely our last for 12 hours or so. I was embarrassed to be Australian when a drunk with a twangy nasal accent admitted loudly that he didn't have any money to pay for his beers and food.
After several more hours waiting and having our sealed bottled water confiscated by order of the Australian Government, we jostled the other passengers and steeled ourselves for 4 1/2 hours on the torture bus. Time passed slowly.
Into Darwin and a mysterious 'computer problem' with the airline check in system saw us leave for Sydney over an hour late. Another crawling flight over the empty brown flat central Australian countryside and another 4 hours later we spot our first welcome glimpses of Richmond airbase, Prospect Resevoir and Sydney Harbour. We join downwind and touch down for a slightly sideways landing in Sydney against a stiff swinging crosswind.
We didn't check in any luggage as we were traveling late and do were out at the taxi stand sharply. And I know I am back in Sydney when the cab driver doesn't know where Croydon is.
I haven't calculated how many hours it had been since we left the hotel in Nha Trang but 20 hours would be in the ballpark.
I flopped into my own bed and napped like i desperately needed a nap, which I did. I woke up with that post-holiday feelings of regret mixed with relief.


At 8:52 am, Blogger Julien said...

Thanks for the daily write-up Chris. The trick with the last-minute substitution of an A320 instead of a A330 is a nasty one... I wonder how "exceptional" that is.


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