Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Everyone said it would be an adventure...little did they know!

I arrived in HCMC (Ho Chi Minh City) last night to a great shock: there is a functional tourist infrastructure here! None of the unmitigated pandemonium I have met in other developing cities (that means you, Cairo). Less than an hour after landing, I was installed in an immaculate, quiet and cheap hotel... equipped with WiFi and cold bottled water. Perhaps my expectations were skewed by the nightmare of getting on the plane...Flashback 24 hours...

Now let me start by saying, I rarely panic. Even whilst being smuggled out of Puno, Peru in the middle of the night to escape an armed insurrection, did i not crack as much as a sniffle. But there's always a first time... and i found it yesterday at SFO of all places.

I arrived at the Japan Airlines ticket counter, well-cushioned for time, travel docs in order. And was promptly informed that my travel agent, despite having made a reservation, reserved seats and charged my credit card, had not actually issued my ticket. No ticket. No getting on plane. No GMIX. No graduate. Panic spiral ensues.

A very nice man at Japan Airlines and I spent the next two hours on the phone, trying to get the travel agent to get their consolidator to fax Japan Airlines some written proof of a ticket, which I am still convinced does not exist. With 40 minutes til boarding, and after some great moral support from GSBers, I got my act together, bought a new ticket at the airport counter and got the travel agent to refund the old one waiving all fees. If they actually give me the money back, the whole endeavour should only cost a couple hundred bucks. Fingers crossed. Hope I used my Amex. (And the travel agent in question: Vayama.com)

But after that, it was easy - I slept through what I thought was nighttime in Vietnam, caffeinated when it was night in california, and ate when the nice stewardesses fed me. Got here, got some sleep, had some pho for breakfast, and got my cell phone hooked up. I thought this was going to be hard...?

Next, on to getting some work done!

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