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Trip to Vietnam & Cambodia

Dear Jakob

An overall statement:

· It was a fantastic trip
· Lost in translation
· It is important to be a wise customer

You ask about the guides. I would like to emphasize Chou (I think, that was his name) in Ho Chi Minh City. He had a fantastic English vocabulary and was even very well informed, also globally. As a young man, he was a soldier in the South Vietnamese army, having to defend and if necessary blow up a bridge over the Mekong River. He therefore had hands-on information about the war. He also had a proactive approach, which I believe is so important. For example, he checked our flight schedule from HCMC very quickly, making sure it was on time. When realizing that our flight left at 11:05 pm, he suggested a change in the program, completely on his own initiative, in order for us to get the most out of the time. Apparently he had not received the departure time in advance.

Another excellent guide was the one from the company arranging the Halong Bay tour. Service-minded and with perfect English. It came as a surprise to me that the guides generally spoke rather poor and not at all fluent English. This is where "lost in translation" gets relevant. I actually often had difficulty understanding the guides. When we were stuck in Hanoi Airport, because the flight to Danang did not depart, I contacted Sawan Tours in order to get information on what to do. I simply could not understand enough of what the Sawan Tours lady said on the phone and vice versa. That was why, I involved you.

The others in our small group were fond of the guide in Cambodia, but I had some unfortunate experiences of "lost in translation". When I for example wanted to revisit Angkor Wat on the second day instead of something new, he did not make it clear, that it would be problematic time-wise. Our excursion to a floating village was therefore rushed, actually not even getting "on" to the village. Most likely as other times, I did not behave as "a wise customer", asking if it was possible/what consequences it would have. I am sure, I crossed the guide's limits. A clash between Asian and Danish mindset, which I was not proud of.

However, they were all friendly and welcoming. They picked us up on time, except upon the first arrival in Hanoi, where I got anxious as there was no guide for us among the more than 20 waiting guides in the arrival area. He came after five minutes though. He had been waiting a different place than where we came out.

It is understandable to have different guides for different destinations, but I believe, they should be informed of the whole itinerary in order to manage the transition better from one destination to another. It would also be nice with the same guide, if you have several days at the same destination.

The quality of the vans was fine and we were always picked up on time.

The hotels in Hoi An and Siem Riap were fine. The ones in Hanoi and HCMC were so-so (and the one in Hanoi was located too far into the old quarter, with a 6-year (course?), it was too far to the Kiemj Lake). It was here "lost in translation" that I had asked for 3+ to 4 and had written that it would be nice, if it was a tad delightful. Another "lost in translation" was my assumption that the term "superior" for a room meant the same as in Danish, meaning something really good. I realized, too late though, that it simply meant "an ordinary room, possibly out to a yard". What I should have asked for was "deluxe room". Not being a very wise customer here either, the consequence was, that at a few places we actually got a room facing a dark courtyard.

But as said: It was an amazing experience being in Vietnam and I think back on it with much joy.

It was quite miserable for a planned 14-hour train journey to take 38 hours due to damage on the railway system, but we chose to take it as an experience. We stopped in a small village, that we otherwise would never have seen. We saw the floods up closely, which we would not have seen. We also shared the cabin with a nice lawyer, an old lady with plastic bags and a Scot of Vietnamese origin (convenient as the train staff did not speak English and the information was very limited). Finally, there were the two black mice, which joined the trip and sometimes made it up to the top bunk!!!

 

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GO24 Co., Ltd
Lavalle Light Hua Hin
77110 Prahuapkirikhan, Thailand

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