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Dan’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 29 Apr 2006

Location: Hanoi, Vietnam

MapHermann and I are now in Hanoi. It was an interesting journey on which I almost lost my cool and got into a fight with three Vietnamese train officials who were trying to cheat us. We had booked our return train tickets through our hotel and were told that we would receive them upon our arrival at the trainstation. When we got there we (Hermann, two Singapore people that we met on the bus ride down to the station and I) did not receive any tickets. Warning bells should have gone off then. We were then ushered to the train and told to sit down. At this point we had no ticket, had no idea if this was the right train and everyone we tried to talk to was not willing or able to respond to us.

I finally found a female official who gave me four tickets, dated for
today and with the right destination. We were taken to our room with 4 bunks and there we waited for the train to depart.
After 9 hours on the train, the person who took us to the train (Crook #1) told us that we were given the wrong tickets and wanted to exchange them. (Warning bells #2) I was skeptical about but when the two from Singapore gave him their tickets, Hermann and i did the same. As soon as we had passed our tickets to him, he bolted. I looked at my ticket, scanned through it and go figure. It was dated for February...So i jumped out of my bunk and ran after the guy who was now three wagons away from us. One of the Singapore guys right behind me. The two of us dashed through the wagons, through the kitchen, passed one engine room and ended up where the train officials were staying (Crooks #2,3,4). We tried to explain the situation to one of them, who told us that everything was okay. Crook #1 returned laughing
at us. I was so close to snapping it wasn't even funny. Eventhough I was a good foot taller than all of them and gave them my best "MEAN GUY FACE" i really doubt that they were scared of me at all.

I finally got the origional tickets back from them. On the way back
1,2,3 and 4 were giggling at which point I almost lost it again.
Thankfully the Singapore guy and my father (who had now come to join in the party) were there to hold me back. I don't know what i would have done if they wouldn't have been there. We arrived at the station 40 minutes later and I was more than happy to get off the train. We took at taxi to our hotel were we are in the midst of cooling down. Lesson learnt from this.. "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice..SHAME ON ME!!!
From now on i'm going to go back to the "trust nobody" mentality. I think it'll be usefull for the remainder of the trip.