It has been a crazy night.
Today was our last day in Hoi An. We decided to take it easy, savor the amazing local foods, and chill with a couple of drinks before leaving on the night train to Ho Chi Minh City. All was well… until we had to pay the hostel tab.
We had to pull out some money, as we usually do, prior to traveling to another location. The first bank I went to told me that “The request cannot be processed”. I did this a couple of times thinking it was a limit issue, since most ATMs here let you only pull out a max equivalent of $200 USD. I gave up after setting for the lowest value I was willing to pull out for a service charge before moving on to another bank. Same thing. I figured I might have mixed up my pin, so I rearranged the possible offending numbers. No dice. As I had wasted a bunch of time already, I ran to another ATM to try again, and got an error saying “cannot be processed” and to “call bank”. The rest of which was in Vietnamese. Problem was, I never got my card back. After pushing all the buttons, and hitting cancel a couple of times with my fist, I decided to compose myself before I started kicking the machine out of frustration and rage. During the time of running back and forth between ATMs, G mentions that our minibus was there and waiting to take us to our 9:56p departure train. It was 8:30pm and the station was 45 minutes away. I’d gotten lax, this was a total rookie mistake, waiting until the last 20 minutes before we were supposed to leave before pulling out cash. Doh!
While the card issue was annoying, we did have some USD on us, so I figured we could pay with that. We keep the USD on hand for visas and other unexpected needs, plus money we’d gotten elsewhere and held onto to use when we go through those countries again, rather than losing on the exchange.
The hostel lady recalculated the bill in USD, and I went to pull out the leg stash that holds our American dinero, and suddenly things went from annoying to frantic.
No leg stash.
Not in any of the backpacks.
I tore everything apart looking for the leg stash and it was nowhere to be found. Now we had no ATM card, and no cash to settle the hostel bill and train tickets with. Not to mention the minibus (with two other customers) has been waiting for 20 minutes during my frantic scurryings, and if we didn’t make the train we’d lose out on another $100 for the tickets. AND completely ruin G’s birthday celebration, because instead of being at the Buddha Amusement Park that she’s been excited about for weeks, we’d be sitting on a train instead.
Thank goodness for our spare bank debit card, and storing our access to money in different locations. G luckily had enough left in her B of A account to pay our outstanding bills, and within enough time for us to grab a madman taxi driver. For reference, normally the trip from Hoi An to Da Nang station takes 45 minutes. We left at 9:00pm and got there at 9:25pm flat.
Adrenaline and paranoia (Vietnam is known for fraudulent activity) coursing through me, I quickly logged on to the GPRS and iPad to request a new pin number for my debit cards, and effectively lock out any other potential use. Then I transferred money back to our safety net account to float us until we can get a new set of cards and pin. Couple that with the ongoing singing of the taxi driver’s horn and the sharp turns avoiding motorcyclists, and you have the perfect recipe for a bit of car sickness. Exiting the taxi with stars above my head and black spirals in my eyes, we waited 20 minutes for our late train. As Joel would say: TIA (This is Asia). It really sucks about that leg stash, and I’m left to still wonder what happened to it, but I’m very glad we caught the train. I write this as we are on our way to Ho Chi Minh.
It’s always an adventure traveling. There are ups and downs and you just gotta run with it.
At least we’ll still have the Buddhist Theme Park for G’s birthday.