Wednesday, December 9, 2009

578 what now????

My plane ticket was a failureImage by kalleboo via Flickr
Given that I am a long way from where I need to be to get my ass home and that I am leaving in less than a week, I decide that today might be a good day to formulate some sort of exit strategy.

Given that it is probably about 3000km overland back to Bangkok, my plan has always been to fly to Thailand. Besides, I'm pretty sure that I read somewhere a few months ago on the internet that regional flights are pretty cheap. I think.

Lucky for me there is a travel agent right next door to my hotel. Of course the Old Quarter of Hanoi seems to be nothing but boutique hotels, travel agents, Pho joints and coffee houses.

I walk into the travel agent and make an enquiry. For some reason travel agents use the phone here, despite the fact that they have a web enabled computer in front of them. Who am I to question local wisdom?

After several attempts, the very nice lady gets a human on the line. After several minutes of Vietnamese banter she hangs up the phone, does a little math and quotes me a price of $578 US.

I do a double take. She explains that the price is for business class, as that is all that is available. I thank her for her time and slink out into the mid afternoon mayhem. Feeling stunned and a little hungry, I find a cafe, order lunch and ponder my options.

There is no way that I am paying $578us for a one way ticket to Bangkok, but this means a journey back from whence I came. Train back to Saigon, some unknown bus arrangement across Cambodia, and yet another bus from the Thai border to Bangkok. As much as I have enjoyed seeing the countryside of all three of these nations, the prospect of re-seeing it is somewhat less palatable.

I finish lunch and head back to my hotel, where there is free net access. After conducting my own research, it appears that I should be able to get a flight for about $200us, which is what I had originally budgeted. Buoyed, I head out to another travel agent and tell them my story.

They shake their head and begin searching. It takes about half an hour, but I eventually leave with ticket in hand, total cost $217.

That feels a lot better.