Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Vietnam - The Border Crossing

Crossing the border into Vietnam involved first getting out of Laos. Naturally soldiers were everywhere. We stood by the side of the road while Charles got some of the paperwork done. Across from where we stood an Iraqi family were attempting the crossing in the opposite direction and naturally incurred some additional 'red tape'. No doubt a lot more bribes than we were paying were involved. Meanwhile two European girls were being left behind as their bus drove into the no-man's land between the two borders. They ran screaming as the bus disappeared, but had to come back anyhow to get their paperwork finished. They need not have worried. The Vietnam border guards are not quite so efficient as their laos counterparts.

After a half hour wait we eventually got to the Vietnam border control. Although the entry tax is 20 dollars, they charge an additional 5 to cover their personal inconvenience, unofficially of course. To demonstrate how worthy of such bonuses they are they spend up to four times the length of time 'processing' you as the Laos guards, and indeed as we arrived a Frenchman was complaining bitterly about his two hour wait 'for nothing'. Merde! What were we in for? I studied the dead bugs on the window sill while Charles tried to avoid having to give them his watch (they liked it and insisted on telling him so). Obviously the wait was too much for even the non-human visitors to the building (I might point out the Vietnam toilets looked far more impressive than the Laos ones, but they harboured an attendent who insisted on groping everyone - from Charles to Helen - who lurked in his domain). Even this activity soon bored me and I ended up playing 'Shithead', a card game, with Zoe and Helen, awaiting my turn to go up to an official with more photo id. My trusty cinema card worked in this respect and, Charles' watch intact, we passed through the metal detectors, more barriers, and into our new bus.


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