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Hanoi Visa Run

Monday, November 14th, 2016

Having flown into Thailand without getting a visa beforehand, I only had a 30 day tourist visa. So I flew to Hanoi using the convenient online Viet Nam visa application and stayed at the Paradise Boutique Hotel in the Old Quarter for a week. For $40 for a visa stamp they met me at the airport and scooted me through immigration. For an extra fee they even met me at baggage claim and took me to my hotel in a van. So different than the old days!

My old haunt, the Classic Street Guesthouse nearby had tripled in price since I stayed there last. And the Tamarind Cafe is no longer there…replaced by another. To my surprise I found a new Mexican Coffee Shop and Cafe…the name of the shop is Xupito! Pretty close to chupa pito!!…!!!!! (which means suck dick!) Jajaja…really…change the Xu to sh/chup pito. Or Xupito could just be referring to a drunkard who drinks a lot.

Paul, a former couchsurfer in Oaxaca, is in Hanoi where he started The Bamboo School to teach music to young kids in the countryside and is playing gigs with his sax and electronic boards around the city. This is the second time we’ve run into each other in SE Asia…the other time on the street in Bangkok. I love it!

The streets are much busier than before…especially in the Old Quarter where sidewalks are taken up by people selling and cooking and eating where there aren’t parked motorcycles so that you have to walk in the congested street.

Look What I found!

Busy Street

Paul..Former Couchsurfer in Oaxaca

The Germans in Hanoi

Oaxaca Re-entry April 2013

Friday, April 19th, 2013

I arrived “home” April 19, 2013 after a 6 month RTW trip to Oregon, Thailand, Oman, Turkey, Oregon, Las Vegas and finally Oaxaca again. As I’ve recently said to friends, I’m getting too old for this shit! Figuring out the logistics in an unfamiliar country is exhausting even though exciting. Supposedly this kind of activity is supposed to at least delay Alzheimers. It better do something. Since retirement, and after more than 10 years on the road and living in Mexico, I’m beginning to feel like my friend Tim:

Just this year I started thinking that some travels closer to home would be nice, or a hotel room reserved for me by somebody else, or a pick up at the train station, a nice affordable meal that i haven’t had to search for, working out new currencies and languages, the certainty that my bed is gonna be quiet and comfortable, the knowledge of where I am gonna be tomorrow and the relaxing certainties that come with that. Even so there are a few places that I’d [still] like to see.


Well, now I’ve come home to a complete change in not only Mexican visa regulations but also rules regarding whether you can keep your foreign plated car in Mexico if it is less than 10 years old. Well I have a Residente Permanente visa now which apparently means I can’t keep my foreign plated car because it is less than 10 years old. What they want is for you to take your car back across the border, sell it and come back in and buy a car in Mexico. No way. My car is a rugged 2010. I will just drive it until I get stopped. Don’t think they are going to hassle foreigners and no one else follows the rules anyway. We’ll see what happens.

This has been my life for the last 3 weeks. But I feel ashamed to be complaining as I read about the Boston Bombing, Syria, Bangladesh, Iran, Israel, Mali and a host of other places around the world. And BTW, there was a horrible bombing a couple days ago at the Turkey/Syria border very near Antakya where I stayed for 4 days in a guesthouse.

It seems strange to be thinking about what to do with myself. The U.S. is boring without the street life I’ve come to love around the world, at least in warmer climes, where people are not sequestered inside their homes all the time and I am free to interact with them. I love going to the zocalo and sitting at one of the outdoor sidewalk cafes and drinking coffee or lemonade or mescal for hours over good conversation with simpatico friends.

I am very fond of Oaxaca and the capacity of the people to enjoy life and each other in the face of poverty and a government that sucks. (Well, my government sucks too and I am happy to not be living there.) I would miss the indigenous customs and art, the music, processions, political marches, dancing, ceremonies, celebrations, fireworks and even the rockets. And waking up to church bells and birds chirping in the courtyard at 6am. And the wonderful self-deprecating sense of humor. And walking to the corner at 7am to buy freshly steamed red and green or chicken mole tamales. And the comida corridas that serve a full home-cooked meal for 30-40 pesos (about $3.00US) And the street performers in the intersections. And the Street Art!

I would miss even the horrible karaoke in the community center for elders down the street. And even if the people have no sense of time whatsoever. And even if I’d like to give the finger to nearly every driver on the road…which I did once. And even though I left behind a beautiful home and my apartment is old and the grout is dirty. And I have to buy 5 gallon jugs of water for drinking and cooking. But I am free to choose where to live and enjoy my life…which is a lot more than can be said of many people the world over.

Return To Oregon

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008
After 19 hours traveling from Bangkok to Tokyo to Portland, I am finally home...of course still waking up at night and napping during the day...a vicious cycle. This is what I have come home to: Retired Major General Antonio Taguba, who investigated ... [Continue reading this entry]

Hanoi Not Burma

Friday, May 23rd, 2008
Well, I gave up on getting a visa to Burma. "You retired? What was your last job? What organization did you work for?" And he didn't like my passport. Too many stamps from too many ... [Continue reading this entry]

Burma Embassy, Cows And A Guesthouse

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008
Bought plane tickets a month ago to go to Burma with a Thai friend. But Air Asia won't let us cancel our tickets without losing the money. So I spent all afternoon in the embassy office with a few others ... [Continue reading this entry]

Asian Travel Update

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008
Last week Amy, Josh's wife, flew down to Samui from Beijing with a colleague from her international school where they teach history. Four short days but it was a treat to see them!
    Koh Samui to Trang to Krabi
The ... [Continue reading this entry]

Just Hanging Out

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008
Yesterday an older woman from Ireland and I tried to find the Night Market at the end of the bridge over the Mekong River where you used to be able to get great BBQ meat cooked over coal fires. ... [Continue reading this entry]

Getting Visa At Immigration

Monday, August 21st, 2006
Went to the zocalo at 7am...burned out car half a block from zocalo on Bustamante. Wanted to go to immigration to get my visa...waited half an hour for bus on Pino Suarez...none came so I took a taxi to immigration. ... [Continue reading this entry]

Update on Living In Oaxaca

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2006
I have almost finished my application for a Mexican FM3 year-long visa. Forms have to be filled out exactly right...with copies...and money paid to a bank. About $200 for the visa and another $40 for them to examine ... [Continue reading this entry]

Visa Run Misery

Wednesday, March 8th, 2006
Burma.gif Every month my son Doug has to cross into Burma and come back into Thailand to get another 30 day stay in the country. If you are late it's a $12 fine per day. ... [Continue reading this entry]

Familiar Bangkok

Saturday, January 7th, 2006
1wXSp3CkNsDoJl3s0SgHmw-2006171154009258.gif Arrived in Bangkok on Jan 3rd on China Air after 17 hours and stops in Anchorage and Taiwan. There has been a cooling in Asia (northern India actually falling below freezing) and it has ... [Continue reading this entry]

Jazz In Familiar Old Quarter Hanoi

Friday, April 1st, 2005
I had to check out of Thailand...thought my visa was 90 days that I got in Kunming in December but it was only 60 days. So at the end of March I had to pay a hefty fine at ... [Continue reading this entry]

Stamp-Out to Burma

Thursday, February 3rd, 2005
1wXSp3CkNsDoJl3s0SgHmw-2006171164904627.gif "Stamping out" consists of leaving Krabi Thailand at a border the case of Ranong the border is with Burma...and then "stamping" back into Thailand. To do this they went to the Thai immigration ... [Continue reading this entry]

Camellia Hotel In Kunming China

Friday, December 10th, 2004
jWLtBzsBGHTUmbHjYHypj0-2006185073225366.gif Video Was really fun to spend time in the Camellia Hotel compound in Kunming, familiar from our 2002 visit to China, and fraternize with all the Western travelers and trade street-stories at the Mieli ... [Continue reading this entry]

Czech Jazz in Cesky Krumlov

Friday, August 20th, 2004
NikaFEAe66TwIiJDaeZZ7w-2006198180634090.gif In Prague, we phone the Chinese embassy and they suggest coming for an interview after which they would allow a visa in one week's time to allow for the processing and paperwork. Because ... [Continue reading this entry]

No Chinese Visa In Germany

Wednesday, August 4th, 2004
Today we try to get our China visa in Berlin, but were refused because we weren't Germans. It was suggested by the Chinese embassy that we could get a visa in Hong Kong, but since our trans siberian tickets ... [Continue reading this entry]

To Guangzhou China

Friday, November 22nd, 2002
YUqE3FCf1Hd9CjfG1qqmt0-2006171132705308.gif Friday November 22 2002 Hong Kong to Guangshou Across the street to noodle shop for breakfast. Sat with woman who worked as a buyer for a British department store & whose English was very ... [Continue reading this entry]

Westerners Go In The Back

Thursday, November 21st, 2002
YUqE3FCf1Hd9CjfG1qqmt0-2006171132705308.gif Video Thursday November 21 2002 Reading "The Coming Collapse of China," a book written by a Chinese American economist...a dissenting opinion...he gives China five years to get their banking system in order...which he doubts will ... [Continue reading this entry]

Hong Kong

Wednesday, November 20th, 2002
YUqE3FCf1Hd9CjfG1qqmt0-2006171132705308.gif Wednesday November 20 2002 We flew to Hong Kong from Bangkok on China Airways at 3pm...a one hour time change. We noticed the metal spoon and fork that came with our food service ... [Continue reading this entry]