Ching Chong Ling Long Ting Tong

Only fitting as I did one on the way to Vietnam that I do the same back. It was not supremely interesting, but there were a few highlights as we flew halfway around the world. The itinerary was basically the same, except this time our layover was in this guy‘s homeland, Shanghai. Spent my last night with Fa Nah Nah, doing God knows what, and didn’t really finish packing until very late that night. Hooray for procrastination. We left Hai Phong at 5 in the morning, first stopping for delicious Banh Mi Tam, deliciously crispy Vietnamese baguettes with pâté inside, which was fitting because this was our first food when we landed too.

At the airport, we found some guys that were able to get BBM on their phones abroad, a task that Fa Nah Nah and I spent our entire vacation trying to figure out. I don’t recall how many times I tried to text “3GON” to “119” to try and make it work. Turns out, however, Vietnam doesn’t carry Blackberry service. Figures. Those guys had a roaming plan from Canada that allowed them to use their Blackberry for about $50 a month.

And then I ran into some trouble with the carry ons. Fucking Vietnamese airlines. I was flying Vietnam Airlines to Shanghai, and then Air Canada home. I had packed 2 carry ons, because Air Canada allows you to have 2, but unfortunately, Vietnam Airlines only allows you to have 1. So I had this extra one that I couldn’t bring. FFFUUUU. I’m glad that, at least, I had Canadians coming back to bring my extra stuff for me.

In Shanghai, there was a weird thing where the luggage doesn’t automatically get transferred to the next airplane? So, we almost forgot to pick up our luggage while trying to get to our plane. By some stroke of luck, we saw them at the baggage claim track. Dannie, always the good Samaritan, saw some people that we met at the Vietnam airport about to go through Customs without their luggage and went to warn them. They offered him a beer, but he’s like, “Lol underage.” Hahahhahaha.

So, we pick up our luggage and go through customs, and find ourselves up at the bag check-in again, on the main floor. Uhh.. this seems inefficient, but we checked our bags in, realised that we had some time, and saw some large conspicuous doors. Feeling adventurous and a little rebellious, we stepped out and breathed Chinese air. Stepped on Chinese soil. Took pictures of Chinese cars.

We decided it was time for food. My brother, ever-so-white, went to get some Burger King. Meanwhile, I decided to get myself some delicious Kimchi Ramen. Oh yes, it was gooooood.

A small scale model of what I can only assume is Shanghai.

On the plane, I felt ever so worldly as I pulled out the mish mash of bills that I had in my wallet. From left to right: American, Canadian, Chinese, Vietnamese. I guess that’s alphabetical too. My (not-so-) secret nerd habit is my foreign money collection. That shit is cool! Maybe I’ll take pictures of it one day. I’ve just recently organised them into a little display book. :D

Anyway, landing back in Canada was a rush. We touched down at 6:30pm on New Years Eve, got through Customs pretty quickly and just had to wait a long time for our luggage. It was 7:30 by the time we got out, and about 8-ish when we got home. I immediately jumped into the shower to wash 3 weeks worth of Vietnam off of me, and went into super speed mode to get ready to go New Years clubbing. Ffffuuuu, stressful, but the night was fun.

And thus concludes my trip to Vietnam. For real this time.

Mong Cai

One day, sometime after Christmas, a large group of us drove up to Mong Cai for some apparently cheap cheap shopping. It was about an 8 hour drive north, as it’s right on the Vietnam/China border, which is why things there are so cheap. This, my dears, is where you can get all the legit Luis Vutiton and Verascae clothing and purses, if that was your desire. The scenery there was gorgeous, though the roads, as always, were rocky at best.

However, you had to bargain your ass through everything in the market, and if there’s one thing I hate, it’s haggling. Just let me buy things at the right price, people, and stop trying to rip me off. Ffuuuu. I’ll just let other people do the talking for me, however, and I’ll just pay whatever price they say. I don’t care.

It’s a bit bad though, because I’m not holding Canadian currency, spending Vietnamese dollars is like water. Just here, I’ll pay for this, this and that, and before you know it, I’ve run out of cash. Horrible mentality.

We stayed at a family friend’s hotel that night and were served the absolute grossest meal I’ve ever seen. Well, gross because we were so Canadian that we couldn’t bear to even look at it. Actually, most of my family couldn’t, even the recent immigrant. So, the parents were forced to eat it out of politeness while the rest of us starved ourselves, waiting to go somewhere else to eat. You know, if I were served this in Canada, I’d probably eat it. Actually, if it was anywhere else, I would have eaten it but because I have a really skewed perception of Vietnam, most likely in a negative way, I just couldn’t bring myself to eat it.We did get served this wonderful corn juice though, which was boiled and mashed corn, slightly strained, and mixed with a condensed coconut milk of some sort. So sweet, so fattening, so delicious.

Silkworms stir-fried with bean sprouts and onions.

Sauteed lizard.

Fried gator.

Stewed lizard.

This cold-blooded cooking though, blehh, so gross. Even looking at the images now, I remember the taste, the chewy, sinewy texture, the toughness. *shiver* Nope, no sir, can’t take it.

Mong Cai was uneventful for the most part. We went shopping during the day, went back to the hotel at night, did a little karaoke, and then slept. We left the next morning. I was a little miffed because I thought we were actually going to cross the border and going into China, but no, we stayed in Vietnam.