Why you should visit an Olympic host city post-Games

What’s the first thing that comes to you mind when you see the word “Olympic city”? Is it buff sports people, sportmanship, patriotism, world peace?

For me, the first thing that comes to my mind is: CROWDS. I hate crowds. So there’s no way that I would visit an Olympic host city during the games.

So I’ve compiled five reasons we should visit a post-Olympic city instead of a host city during the games:

not the Olympic Rings so no copyright infringement

1. Far from the madding crowd

When the Games are over, so will the crowd. I think it is best for my sanity not to share [place of Olympic venue] with thousands of other tourists.

This also means that people who I meet on the streets will not be talking all about the games, a good deal for me since I have no love for sports.

2. Normal prices

If I were a merchant, I would happily fleece the tourists visiting my city during the Olympics. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event anyway.

Even if the merchants are not deliberating fleecing visitors, the number of visitors swarming into the city means that prices will be inflated. Room prices will be at its maximum and even food prices will be more expensive.

Post-Olympics, at least the prices will fall back to normal.

3. Rooms available

Even if I am able to afford rooms in the city during the Games, there’s no guarantee that there are vacant rooms.

Thus visiting the venue post-Games means less people to compete for rooms with and more more reviews online to decide which hotel/hostel to choose..

4. Cheap Olympics memorabilia

Besides sportsmanship, the Olympics is a showcase of consumerism. Fancy a one-eyed London 2012 mascot soft toy? That will be 12 pounds, thankyouverymuch.

If I ever have plans to become an antique collector (that is if I keep that toy in my attic long enough, it will become an antique) nor do I collect Olympics-themed souvenirs but if anyone wants cheap Olympics souvenirs, post-Games would be the best time as the businesspeople will be trying to get their merchandise off their shelves.

5. Upgraded public transport

Since all governments want to present the best to the public, you can bet that they will be upgrading their new train/bus lines to the venue.

So it’s worth delaying that trip for me to to escape the crowds and take advantage of the new metro or bus service.

What other reasons can you think of to visit a host city post-Olympic?


This blog post was inspired by BootsnAll’s Indie Travel Challenge weekly travel blog project.
This week’s topic: Have you ever been to the Olympics? Is it on your wishlist? Why? Why not?.

Other #indie2012 posts:

What to do if you only have 24 hours in Kuching, Malaysia

Checklist for 24-hours in Kuching

  1. Pose with cat statues
  2. Visit cat museum
  3. Visit Sarawak Cultural Village
  4. Take a sampan ride
  5. Watch sun set at waterfront
  6. Eat Sarawak laksa, kolo mee
  7. Visit Chinese Heritage Museum and Tua Pek Kong temple

For a more detailed itinerary, read my guest post on 24 hours in Kuching, Malaysia at Flocations’ blog.

A bit about Flocations, it’s a Web service that lets you pick Southeast Asian budget flights based on your budget and dates. Same end goal as Flight Lover (Cheap flights within my budget but different way of doing it.

PS I’ve just started my guest posting journey, which Alexis Grant from the currently-called The Travelling Writer recommends doing right at the start.

If you are looking for travel/lifestyle posts on Singapore, Malaysia or the Southeast Asian region, drop me a mail yqtravelling[at]gmail.com.

How many travellers does it take to renew a passport?

New passport, expires 2018

Extra: How to renew your Malaysian passport online
1. Sign into MyOnline Passport using Chrome.
2. Fill in correct information and upload a photo of the right format.
3. Pay using credit card.
4. Save the receipt onto your computer.
5. The passport should be ready at where you said you will pickup in 2 hours time.

How many travellers does it take to renew a passport?

The answer is one. But when the traveller is well-known for being a scatter-brain procrastinator, it might take a lot more than that.

My passport with the number H180XXXXX was expiring on Jan 30, 2013. But we need at least 6 months of validity for our passports if we want to travel overseas.

I’m working in Singapore with a Malaysian passport, I don’t think having an “expired” passport will sit well with the authorities.

While I was determined to get a new passport when I head home during the end of June, I only successfully retrieved the new passport on July 28, in Johor Bahru which is 8,000++km away from home.

Here’s the story of how I finally renewed my passport.

Pre-June 29. Location: Singapore

(Countdown to expiry 30+ days + 6 months)

At the office

More than month till my passport expires. No worries.

I keep announcing to my colleagues that I will renew my passport when I am back home at the end of the month for my classmate’s wedding.

I even make sure to place my passport in my handbag (which is really redundant because I need it to travel home anyway.)

June 30. Location: Kota Kinabalu

(Countdown to expiry 30 days + 6 months)

Home sweet home. No, that's not my house

I am supposed to renew my passport today. I have even planned out the day’s schedule: renew passport in morning, go to mall nearby while waiting for the passport to be churned out in two hours, collect passport.

But it didn’t happen. Why? Because I’ve forgotten to bring my Identification Card (IC) back home.
It did cross my mind that I should bring my IC back. But being me, I didn’t heed that small warning.
My parents grumbled. I told them to relax.

Instead of a new passport, I had passport photos taken.

July 2. Location: Singapore

(Countdown to expiry 27 days + 6 months)
Back in Singapore, maybe I can renew my passport at the High Commission of Malaysia here.

Oh no, Sabah/Sarawak passports need two extra months of processing since they need to send it back. This is ridiculous.

July 11-15. Location: Hoi An, Vietnam

(Countdown to expiry 15 days + 6 months)
Well, since I’m overseas having fun. It’s not possible to renew my passport.

Let’s not worry and eat this bowl of pho. Nom nom nom.

July 19. Location: Singapore

(Countdown to expiry 10 days + 6 months)
Only 10 days weeks till I’m considered an illegal alien. Gaa! Let me drink this cup of tea to calm my nerves.

Boss asks when my passport is expiring, gives hint of an upcoming trip.

I call up the Johor immigration office to ask if Sabah passports take a longer time to process. It doesn’t. (Phew.)

But the immigration office will be closed during the 21st and 22nd weekend because of the beginning of the fasting month.

Panic starts to creep in.

July 23. Location: Singapore

(Countdown to expiry 7 days + 6 months)
OK, do not panic. D suggests I sleepover in Johor and run to the immigration office as soon as the door opens.

Sounds like a plan.

July 24. Location: Singapore

(Countdown to expiry 6 days + 6 months)
I decide I should get the online passport renewal system, MyOnline Passport, a try.

I use Firefox which has always been more stable for important sites. After filling in all my details, I find out that I cannot upload my photo.

Panic.

I decide to use Chrome. Oh! Photo upload works. Let me fill in my credit card details, select Johor as my pickup point, and sent everything over. A Web page gives me the receipt for the transaction and says I can pick up my passport after 2 hours.

July 25, 26, 27. Location: Singapore

(Countdown to expiry 5, 4, 3 days + 6 months)
I keep worrying that MyOnline Passport doesn’t really work, while reassuring my boss my passport will be collected on Saturday.

July 28. Location: Johor Bahru

(Countdown to expiry 2 days + 6 months)
Today’s the day of passport collecting, if I don’t get it done, I will be stranded in Johor until I get it sorted out.

I wake up at 7am, take the bus to Woodlands, switched to a bus to the checkpoint. A cab drives slowly pass the lobby after the checkpoint, I jump in.

After a RM16 cab ride, I am at the Johor Bahru immigration center at 9.40a.m. I don’t know which of the four buildings houses the passport office. I sprint from the car park to the center of the buildings–if my online passport application hasn’t been successful, I will need to get the paperwork done before 10am as the office closes at noon on weekends.

The employees at the carpark stopped me.
-Where are you going?
-To get my passport renewed.
-Oh! I thought you dropped your passport or something. Take that lift to the third floor.
-Thank you!

I reach the office. The queue is crazy. I am going crazy. I ask the lady for a queue number. She sees that I am collecting my passport so send me to counter 11.

OK, not as many people here. I hand over my passport pickup slip, telling the person I renewed it online. He tells me to take a seat and they will call out my name.

I stand in the corner and send an SMS to mom to tell her that I am waiting to collect my passport. I see a man with a stack of passport coming from behind the office.

My name is called. I take a seat, sign my passport and give them my right thumbprint.

I’m in the office for less than 10 minutes and my brand spanking new passport is in my hands.

My photo’s not flattering but whose is?
New passport, expires 2018

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#FoodFri Glutton in Hoi An part 2: Restaurants

In Part 1 of Glutton in Hoi An, I introduced the street food (ok, ok some were from restaurants) I had while in the town.

For Part 2, I’ll be talking about meals I had in restaurants–a bit pricey but still cheap when compared to Singapore.

Restaurant: Morning Glory

Address: 106 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street (TripAdvisor)

One of the restaurants run by Miss Vy (She’s Lonely Planet famous) where I had my grandest meal in Hoi An at the Morning Glory.

Instead of the airconditioned seats, I picked the two-person seater at the veranda. Similarly, I ordered enough to feed two persons and a child.

I ordered the stir fried morning glory (which disappointly turns out to be just kangkung), Hoi An pho, iced coffee and a kem flan (Vietnamese crème caramel).

The stir fried vegetable came with a serving of rice. I wasn’t brave enough to ask the waiter to take the rice back as I didn’t want to seem like a food waster. So I ended up eating my bland veggie with rice.

The Hoi An pho was the first I had. I was surprised by the mild soup as I remembered a stockier soup in Saigon. It was OK.

The kem flan came with shaved ice on top of the creme caramel. Interesting traditional combination.

The bill was 200,000 dong, one of the more expensive meals I’ve had but worth every cent.

Restaurant: Blue Dragon

Address: 46 Bach Dang St., Hoi An, Vietnam (TripAdvisor)

I visited Blue Dragon at one of those awkward timing in between lunch and tea time.

The meat set meal (120,000 dong) was definitely not an Asian-person appetite serving. Maybe a really hungry Asian person-sized.

Overall, the meal was yummy. The beef fried spring roll was a bit dry. The fried wonton and it’s spicy seasoning was great, it felt like I was eating seafood because of the sauce.

The rest of the main meal: rice with chicken and fried noodles wasn’t fantastic.

I forgot that I had a frui salad at the end so I was pleasantly surprised to be serviced cool banana and pineapple.

Please don’t let my review of the food stop you from visiting the place. It’s actually pretty cool since they are linked to a charity also called Blue Dragon. On the yellow wall, you can see the mark of where the last big floods reached in the shop.

Restaurant: Chinh’s Riverside Restaurant

Address: 54 Cua Dai Road, Hoi An +84, Vietnam (TripAdvisor)

Since Hoi An has both the sea and a huge river, seafood is a recommended dish. I did a search of cheap seafood places on TripAdvisor, found Chinh’s and decided to visit when I was at Cua Dai beach.

The place is right before the bridge bringing you back to Hoi An old town. The view is fabulous since you can see the river. I saw two fisherfolks who sat so still that I thought they were puppets put on water as a symbolic tip of the hat to the fishing life.

Chinh’s seems to be a family-runned place When I was there, there was a lady and an elderly lady. I heard them chopping and stir frying in the kitchen.

Again, being the gauche tourist, I ordered a two-person’s servings of seashells and prawns. The coffee was unfortunately from a 3-in-1 mix.

Nice place to watch the river flow by.

Restaurant: Mermaid

Address: 2 Tran Phu Street (TripAdvisor)

On the first night, Linh the homestay owner made a face when she heard that we were heading to Mermaid for dinner. The place is too small and not airy, she said.

Linh was right.

I decided to visit the Lonely Planet-famous eatery during yet another awkward meal time. I ordered the white rose and a coffee.

The white rose were sticking to each other, not quite the “har gao” feeling I was looking for.

There are better places for food in the city but don’t let me stop you. (Bad reviews didn’t stop me from experiencing it neither.)

Stayed: Value Hotel Balestier, Singapore, review

My parents bunked at Value Hotel Balestier when they came to visit in Singapore early this month.

I was looking for a place that fits three persons in a room because I wanted to overnight with them during the weekend to make it easier for sightseeing.

The room was S$129 on regular nights, and S$139 on Saturday nights. After the 10 percent service charge and 7 percent Goods & Service Tax (GST), the price comes to about S$150. Quite reasonable for three people.

Superior plus at Value Hotel Balestier

The room that we got, Superior Plus, has a queen-sized bed and a sofa bed. I didn’t pick the room with windows because who actually need a window? (Please tell me why you need one if you do.)

The room is small, as expected in Singapore, but I think there will be enough space for two large luggage.

the extra sofa bed

The sofa bed was surprisingly comfortable. It was firm, unlike some foam beds which crush under any weight.

Amenities

At the dressing table, there is a plastic kettle, three glasses and three bottles of water which are replenished everyday. Hairdryer hidden in the drawer.

There was a DVD player, TV with cable TV programs (which weren’t half as scandalous as the stuff I watched on HBO in San Jose) but no mini-fridge (a pity!).

the loo

The bathroom is equipped with toothbrush sets, shampoo, soap and toilet paper which are all replenished daily.

I had to ask for a Wi-Fi password slip from the receptionist. It said it’s chargeable by S$10 but it wasn’t billed. Not sure if that’s the usual case.

Location

If you are familiar with the Singapore public transport, Balestier Road isn’t a bad location. There are buses to the shopping strip Orchard Road.

But the location’s not fantastic because it’s not near an MRT station, it takes a bus ride to reach Novena station.

Taxi fare in Singapore is relatively cheap (compared to Tokyo) so if you have more than 2 people in a group, taking a cab is often cheaper and faster than the bus.

Finding the place

On Balestier Road, there are THREE Value Hotels, a Fragrance Hotel and some Hotel 81’s. To get to the right Value Hotel *Balestier*, here’s what was included in my receipt:
“By taxi, inform the taxi driver to bring you to Value Hotel Balestier located at 218 Balestier Road (opposite the temple where durians are being sold)”

Summary

Stayed: Value Hotel Balestier, Singapore, review
Good for family of three
Pro: Not too expensive, comfy beds
Cons: Not central

Visiting Singapore? Here are some travel tips:

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Stayed: Loc Phat Homestay, Hoi An review

I spent four nights at Loc Phat Hoi An Homestay during my trip to Hoi An. The place is runned by Linh–who deserves her Superwoman title–her husband (Quoc) and the two kids Billy and Tony.

It’s a terrific place for a solo travelling female since being in a homestay feels safer than a generic hotel or a backpacker’s place where you meet drunk kids on their gap year.

It’s also great for an ISFP like me because there is just the right number of people for me to interact with and not feel too overwhelmed.

Since I arranged for airport pickup, I didn’t take note of the address when I left for Hoi An. Airport shuttle was US$13 one way and Linh’s younger brother’s picked me up from Danang airport. It’s a lot more convenient than trying to haggle with cabbies.

The household

The previous tenants were not exaggerating when they say how accommodating Linh and her family is.

Linh whose day job is at a nearby hotel made sure that I was comfortable and changed my bicycle which had a loose chain. She even made extra keys for the tenants.

While I was there, Linh and her family slept in the living room, giving up their room to a pair of travellers. I think there was a mix up so they didn’t confirm their accommodation or something like that. I thought it was really nice of the family.

I also ate two of Linh’s meals, not refusing the second serving like how our Asian culture dictates. The family dinner was nice. And the cau lao which I had before leaving was the best cau lao I had during the trip, trumping even the central market one.

The tenants were really colorful characters. There was R who spent 30+ years with her husband and son on a boat! Two travelling 20-year-olds who asked me to have dinner with them (so sweet).

Room

$10 room

My $10/night room was the one facing the front garden. I had a large window and an even larger bed.

In the room, there are hangers which I used to dry my laundry. Multiple electrical plus. A tiny table with an equally tiny chair (children size) which acted as my makeup table.

Room with a view

The room has a standing fan which I had to use throughout the night because of the hot Vietnamese summer. In the morning, I can see a bit of sunrise right out of the window.

I do feel conscious that the opposite neighbors might see me while I change or sleep in ugly positions, but it’s probably my over active imagination.

Location

The road to Old Town

The house is in the middle of the roads to Old Town and Cua Dai beach. While it might seem a chore cycling to both destinations, it’s actually really easy if you pick Nguyen Duy Hieu to cycle (there’s less traffic compared with Cua Dai Road).

If you don’t have much time in Hoi An, I would recommend staying in the Old Town for the night view. But staying away from the attractions means I have incentive to explore the neighborhood and to discover the best coffeeplace in Hoi An (Cafe 139, on Nguyen Duy Hieu).

At the end of Cua Dai Road is the tailor where I made a qipao (more on that in a future post) so the location’s great.

Taxis are cheap and run on meters so they are a good alternative to cycling.

My trusty bike

Booking

I recommend contacting Linh directly through the site since it takes away the hotel booking site charges that both parties have to pay.

Stayed: Loc Phat Homestay, Hoi An review
Pro: Wonderful hosts, in middle of road to town and beach, cheap (US$10), airport/train transportation available at extra charge
Cons: Might be a bit warm in the room (because of the Vietnamese summer)

Splurging on musicals and performances

I’ve been known to be a penny pincher during my regular days. While I don’t become worse when travelling, I do keep an eye on my budget.

Fortunately, I am not too sporty so I do not spend my extra budget on anything that requires me to move my arms or legs too much. (Cycling does not really count as exercise as it is considered transportation.) I’m immune to theme parks so that’s another savings.

I love to eat but my unfortunate purse means I only eat cheap food–never 3-star Michelin restaurants. Visiting museums is my weakness but most are afforably priced.

So where do I splurge when I travel? Musicals and performances.

A musical in France

Since I first heard Le Roi Soleil‘s soundtrack, I swore to myself: “I will see a French musical live!” (A sample from the soundtrack, also the most romantic song on earth.)

Mozart l”opera rock

When I was planning my trip to Paris last year, I accidentally found out that Mozart, L’opera rock was performing in the country. I had been listening to the soundtrack of the musical ever since I accidentally (again!) stumbled upon the music video for L’assasymphonie which I thought was tres bizarre in the beginning.

Unfortunately, the troupe ended their Paris performances and were travelling around the country. I checked out their schedule and, on a whim, I bought a ticket for the show in Nantes.

It was now or never! While the show, the TGV ride and hotel stay set me back an extra few hundreds of euros, the chance to watch a real life performance was priceless.

The show rocked my socks off, though I was wearing none. I didn’t understand half the dialogue but music, gestures, dances and costumes do not need translation.

Being in the audience, peering at the stage was very different from watching it on Youtube which is still better than nothing. I felt goosebumps listening to the familiar songs.

The trip was also not a waste as it was in Nantes that I first “met” my travel idol, Nellie Bly, although my first impression of her was not great because of my poor French.

A burlesque in San Francisco

As mentioned in my post on money saving tips for San Francisco, I caught a once-in-a-lifetime show in The City.

Dita von Teese

Dita von Teese’s “Strip Strip Hooray” show was on for two days when I was in SF. I could not get the tickets online but managed to get them from the box office.

Despite standing through the whole 3 hours, the show was fabulous. Not only were the burlesque performers entertaining, even the audience was really sporting. (Not so sure about the girl standing in front of me with a large headdress though.)

There was much booze and weed going on. The audience catcalled and cheered at the right moments. I felt like I peeped into a part of San Francisco that’s not found on the streets.

In the end, it was worth spending the $35 which meant three meals or an extra hostel’s night stay. Thank you for the incredible night.

This blog post was inspired by BootsnAll’s Indie Travel Challenge weekly travel blog project.
This week’s topic: What do you splurge on when you travel?.

Other #indie2012 posts:

#FoodFri Glutton in Hoi An part 1

Vietman will always have a place in my stomach. It was the place I first started liking raw vegetable, ate banh minh, slurped good pho and discovered my love for buttery Vietnamese coffee.

So during my trip to Hoi An last week, I ate like the glutton I am.

Thought with all my cycling in Hoi An, I probably would have dropped one dress size. Unfortunately, my body believed in replacing all the muscle and fats I’ve lost in case of a zombie apocalypse so I probably ended up half a dress size larger.

I’m not sure if it’s the food portion or my vigorous cycling, I was really really hungry on Day 2 of my Hoi An trip. Even after a meal, my stomach would send signals to my brain saying: Hey! You should put more food into your mouth.

My brain obeyed and I ended up eating double portions of everything: banh mi (one pate and one plain) for tea time and a dinner for two at Morning Glory. Yikes! I was very pacified after the meal at Morning Glory that my stomach stopped complaining and was busy digesting but the feast went on.

Enough about my appetite, let me show you some of the yummies I had.

Cau Lao


A famous noodle dish in Hoi An. My sister and I were trying to figure out what Cau Lao might mean in Chinese. Translations say “dry noodle” and she wondered if it’s “gon lau”.

The better Cau Lao I had was in the central market, eating next to locals. I was charged the price of a big bowl which I think is my tourist tax. Still, it’s only 20,000 dong (S$1.25).

The noodles are flat and translucent. There are slices of pork and pieces of pungent leaves–a taste I associate with Vietnam and have grown to love.

However, the best cau lao was made by the lady running the homestay. I had two servings and it was terrific!

Banh Mi


My first Banh Mi in Saigon took me by surprise: fluffy, crunchy, tough and airy. A wild combination for a small baguette.

Unlike the jaw breaking French baguette, banh mi is more airy but with an equally stubbon but crispy crust.

The banh mi that I eventually ate in Hoi An was from a stall which legendary Anthony Bordain visited before. The reviews on TripAdvisor raved on and on. Despite just putting my head on my pillow and the sun being bright and strong at 2pm, I decided to find the famous stall and stuff myself with bread.

Banh Mi Phuong is not too easy to find. It’s next to shoes shops so you might miss it. At the junction of Nguen Duy Hieu and Phan Boi Chau, head towards the bridge but look at your right. The stall is right next to the small pedestrian entrance to the cloth market.

I bought one with pate and two empty ones to chew. The lady was puzzled why anyone would get empty ones when her fillings are to die for. (I didn’t dare tell it’s for my food baby–aka tummy.) All that bread for 25,000 dong. Amazing!!

I found a picnic spot opposite Hoi An town. It was a not too romantic place, perfect for my not-too-romantic face stuffing.

The sandwich was alright, yummy but not out of this world delicious. I wouldn’t mind having it from time to time. But the filling were substantial.

Pho

Pho

I’m not a pho connoisseur but Hoi An pho tasted different compared to Saigon pho. The stock less “busy” with clearer soup.

Before starting my meal, I drown the vegetables that came with the noodles. After drowning them in soup, they become half cooked and more edible. The flat noodles were perfect with the clear soup.

Coffee

I had coffee at about every rest stop, coffee shop and restaurant. I was charged all sorts of prices from 9,000 to 25,000 dong. I had 3-in-1 mix, pre-made and metal filtered coffee.

The best coffee place for Vietnamese coffee in Hoi An is at Cafe 139, on Nguyen Duy Hieu. It’s a cafe under a house, next to the ditch/river. For only 10,000 dong, you get a buttery iced Vietnamese coffee *and* a glass of sweetened tea.

The serving is very petite–the regular Vietnamese size–while the ice cube really large. I usually read while I wait for the ice to melt before taking careful sips.

This edition of #FoodFri features part 1 of my Glutton in Hoi An post. In the next edition, I will showcase three (or more) restaurants I visited. Stay tuned!

What is your favorite Hoi An dish?

No sex on the beach and other travel tips

Subtitle: Can we please be civilized travelers?

Sorry if you were led here by the title but I won’t be sharing any sex-on-the-beach gone wrong stories or anything as scandalous as that.

Instead, I will rant about tourons (tourist+moron)–thanks to LandLoper Matt for teaching me this term.

The title of this post came from a conversation I overheard. A local in Vietnam was telling visitors that some tourists would party on the beach at night, get really drunk and pass out on the sand and then hump each other (he used the better word “make love”) during sunrise.

Before I get into the story of my personal experience of meeting unruly travelers, here’s the travel tips I promised:

  1. The “Dos & Don’ts” section in your Lonely Planet is not used to add weight to your guidebook. Read the chapter for Flying Spaghetti Monster‘s sake.
  2. Respect the local culture and don’t do things you won’t do in front of your grandma in front of locals.
  3. Just because you are excited being at a new place, please don’t shout your satisfaction to your fellow travelers.
  4. Stand on the right side of the escalator. No, not the side of your right hand, the correct side which is the side most locals are standing at.
  5. Be polite. Remember, it’s you who’s visiting their country so be respectful.
  6. Lastly, yes. you are allowed to have sex on the beach but please find a secluded area and not hump like wild dogs in public.

Back to the main point

Sunrise, marred by touron backpackers

This post is inspired by a scene I saw at Cua Dai beach:

Picture this: A drunk young person with a buzzcut, who I think is called Allan, was making a fool of himself by first shouting at his drunk sleeping friend Charlie and then walking in a zigzag line into the sea. He proceeded to manhandle a fellow girl traveller–let’s call her B–in what is mistaken as an act of courtship (it’s about hamsters though).

In the sea was also D who probably felt left out from the manhandling was also shouting a lot while flapping around in the sea. Girl, you do not get attention that way and he’s not worth it.

The locals (and I) were sneaking peeks at the rowdy foreigners. It didn’t feel very comfortable watching these people being less than human.

Later, the gang picked themselves up (not very successfully) and headed back. I was also going to cycle back so I eavesdropped on Allan and B’s conversation at the bike parking lot.

–You are a beautiful girl. Something something something.
–Aww, you’re so sweet.

B seemed like the only not drunk person which signals being level headed so I wanted to shake her to say: “Why would you believe a drunk?” Of course I didn’t.

B had a bicycle and wanted to ride back but Allan insisted he ride. I didn’t think he was sober enough to cycle and true to that, Allan also managed to fall off his bike, scraping some skin and brusing his ego.

While I was pedalling back, I saw Allan brought back on a motorbike with two other people while B cycled a long way behind them.

Besides Allan’s friends Charlie who was drunk on the beach. Another girl slept on the pavement in front of a hotel while Allan and B were speaking to each other.

The scene was really disgusting.

‘I pity the fool’

Is there something about being away from home that makes some travellers uncouth? Does being in a foreign country means that the rules and social etiquette at home do not apply anymore?

Guardian has an article of this phenomenon happening in Vang Vieng. Things are not pretty there, some broken limbs and cracked heads (not to be confused with crackheads).

“It’s pure Darwinism,” says backpacking travel expert Stuart McDonald, a regular visitor to Laos and the Australian founder of travelfish.org. “If kids keep getting tanked and jumping off trees or ropes, they’re going to keep dying.”

Perhaps going on the road less travelled means I won’t meet with such travellers.

Do you have any travel pet peeves?

The ride to My Son which never came

A portion of this entry was written on July 14. Timestamp of writing time included.

Sunrise from afar

[6.08am] The bus that was supposed to take me on the Sunrise My Son tour should have picked me up at 5am. Instead, I’m in my room enjoying the last of the cool morning air.

Turns out, the tour bus misinterpreted my address “3XX, name” as “room 3XX, hotel name”. Worse thing is, I left a wrong phone number with the tour so even if they did try contacting me, it wouldn’t go anywhere.

I decided to sign up for the sunrise tour the day before because I want to escape the tourists and the heat. I biked to Hoi An old town and stopped by a travel agent, which turned out to be Blue Coral, and signed up for a tour + boat ride package. It was US$14 but I didn’t have dollars so I was charged 210,000 dong.

Really excited for the trip, I woke up at 4.30am, went to brush my teeth and put on BB cream in the semi-darkness lighted only by my torchlight.

At 4.50am, I was waiting at the junction.

The 10 minutes until 5am there felt like a very long time. The sky was still light blue with a peep of orangege from the east. There was a surprising number of people zipping by. 5 am!

5.13am

I waited and waited.

Then a public radio started broadcasting. I wasn’t sure what the content was but it felt very socialist–in a positive way. A very uplifting female voice was announcing something which I regret not being able to understand.

As I waited, taxis passed by, giving me a honk or two. I shook my head.

I saw buses turn into a corner but they never turned to me.

Dog which kept barking menacingly at me

At 5.25am, I texted the phone number on my receipt. At 5.40am, I decided to head back.

At 5.50am, a phone call arrived. A man said the tour bus has left as they thought I was staying in a hotel. I asked them to pick me up at the right place for the 8am tour instead.

Funny thing is, my homestay owner said last night that tours sometimes don’t come and pick people up. And that if we have a tour, we can ask her to call and confirm.

I thought to myself: Nah, it won’t happen to me. I just booked it this morning.

And it did, but in a different way.

But the time standing outside was not wasted. I got to see and hear a part of Vietnamese life that was hidden from travellers who wake up at 9am for breakfast.

Still, next I’ll remember to be really specific about my pickup address and also write down the right phone number.

PS Luckily, I was still able to join the 8am tour to My Son. The sun was hot but there wasn’t too many people around. All’s well that ends well.

What travel mishaps have you encountered? Did it end well?