By: Revanche

Fistfuls o’ Dollars

February 15, 2007

I done did it. I booked our tickets last night in a terribly convoluted process. BoyDucky and I had once vaguely discussed flying together, but the coldly practical side of me initially dismissed that as a silly notion since we’re coming from SoCal and NorCal. MaDucky weighed in and it later made more sense to me to fly up north, meet up with BoyDucky and fly out together. Well, hey, if I’m going to be needy, I may as well go all out! 🙂 Nah, it’ll be far easier on MaDucky to pick up and drop me off at the local airport than to go to LAX for a midnight flight.

That and his “flawless” Vietnamese is limited to … uh, “hello” and “pho.” I don’t want to lose him either in Hong Kong or in the Saigon airport. I haven’t been there in eleven years, and I only have a vague memory of the humidity slapping me upside the head stepping off the plane way back when. Trying to find him in that mess does NOT sound appealing.

But here’s why I thought using a travel agency would make my life easier:

I’d give them my trip parameters and they would get my visa in order, get my tickets, and I’d give them some money. Bing, bang, boom. They weren’t charging that much, either. The prices they were charging totaled less than the pricing I was finding for just the fares online.

They got the visa part down, an emergency visa at that, but they apparently couldn’t access the same online fares that I could find so they couldn’t get me back home any earlier than the 12th! I wanted to stay no longer than a week because I just can’t take THAT much time off. But no way was I going to wait much longer to go, G’ma’s waitin’ on me!!

So I booked myself an award ticket to go up north, thank goodness for the extra miles from my recent App-o-rama, then tried to book the two flights from SFO to SGN. Would you believe those dirty rats?! I had gotten the right flights going there and coming back, and then they snatched that fare out from under my nose!! I had selected the flights and entered all our information, only for them to say “Sorry, that fare you selected is no longer available.” Whaaaaah? I had taken an extra five minutes to read through their fare rules and that literally nearly cost me another 2 grand! I had to cut the trip short by two days, in order to keep the two tickets under $3000. They wanted $5300 for the two tickets that were only (“only” — psh!) $2800! I’m still outraged.

The upshot is I’ve got 6 days in Vietnam, and 3 days in SF because I can’t change the dates of my award ticket without penalty.

Costs thus far:
Visas (2), emergency: 170
Ticket to SF: 5
Tickets to Vietnam: 2732
——————
2907

My only planned expenses will be to have a traditional dress (ao dai) made. It’ll save me a lot of time and hassle to get it done while I’m back there. It’s far less expensive in general to have things tailor-made there because it’s kind of a normal thing for every girl to have one. I may let PaDucky pick the fabric and just have it done in time for me to get fitted when I get back.

The other major expense is the New Year season. I have to bring a wad of cash for gifting to my cousins which will run about 100k “dong” per cousin. And holy cow, do I have a lot of cousins. I think the exchange rate is around 15-16k dong to the dollar. Time to pay my dues for all those red envelopes I got when I was a kid.

Watch out, I’m getting submerged in culture here!

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