Vietnam: What A Difference A Nationality Made (2) ?

Do you remember my lengthy post about being Indonesian and how I feel that as an Indonesian we are treated lousy by the rest of the world? (click here to read my old posting). Well, the ‘belief’ sticks in my head strongly, and I saw some more proof the other day that confirmed me to my own core.

We know that Bugil’s Group’s Football Team will play in Saigon this upcoming weekend. Since the beginning we had been toying with the idea of going with them (me being the cheerleader, and Stuart being the player – sort of). But we realize that Stuart will need a visa, and my travel agent said that it would take 5 working days to proceed, and its fee, combined with the total cost we had to spend for the trip, made us decided not to go.

Until last Saturday, when suddenly Stuart decided just to go, since he’d feel lonely without his boyfriends. But as a Briton, he needs a visa to enter the country. Usually someone took care of it for him, but since he’s no longer working for the company he’s gotta do it himself. Being Indonesian, this is the first time I smugly feel superior, since I don’t need a visa. I only need to hop on a plane and go to Saigon. My travel agent insisted that she couldn’t help me with Stuart’s, so Stuart and I tried our own luck by going to the Vietnamese Embassy in person. We had only one day to go.

We got there at the wrong time. It’s 3.00 PM, time for collecting, not for applying. No one was behind the counter, and the place was complete deserted. We were about to give up with the idea of tasting the original Pho Bo another time, when suddenly a Vietnamese guy showed up.

He was smiling and absolutely friendly. Which was bizarre, since my experience with other embassies were never as pleasant as this. Embassy staffs are usually as gloomy as the hospital staffs, like they all suffer hemorrhoids or are thinking about dividing 200 from 13. Stuart asked whether he still had enough time to have his visa processed, and the guy just smiled and handed him over a single paper to be filled in. When Stuart was busy answering the questions on the paper, the guy casually said that application time is closed since 11.30. But since we turned up in person, he’d help us anyway. We kept saying thank you and sorry nervously, waiting for some uncomfortable surprise to turn up (that, for example, he was the gardener and not the staff, or that we could bugger off and how dare us to turn up at the ‘collecting time’ to apply the visa, and so on).

But no, no surprise. After returning the paper, hand his passport over, the guy said that Stuart must come back tomorrow to collect his passport and/or visa.

That’s it?

That’s it.

We went out of the Vietnamese Embassy, were still dizzy of the whole 10 minutes experience, still couldn’t believe that tomorrow Stuart would get his visa.

It can’t be that easy. It shouldn’t be this easy. This wasn’t real.

Our travel agent was as nervous as we were and she wouldn’t issue the ticket until Stuart’s passport and visa are on hand. But with only one day to play around, we had to confirm everything. So in between the chaotic traffic jam and hot humid temperature, we decided to go head with everything. At 11.00 AM, all tickets were issued. But we must wait until 3.00 PM to collect Stuart’s visa.

Bur Stuart’s got his visa, as promised. No, the guy was definitely not the gardener who’s taking a piss out of us. And wow, everything done in one day?

We were so impressed with Vietnamese Embassy. And although they spell Stuart’s name as Stung on the receipt, and he is Britist, not British, we’re still happy. The whole thing have made us happy. Although it leaves one permanent questions unanswered: Is because Stuart is British? What happens if Indonesian needs a visa, can we have it in one day?

Anyway, off to Saigon, tomorrow. Finally. Back to original Pho Bo. Let’s see if this time I have the courage to enter Cu Chi Tunnel this time…


  1. spew-it-all says:

    Enjoy Saigon then! Hope you have a lovely trip there

  2. Indonesian treated quite nicely in Vietnam, at least what from my experiences during many visits in this beautiful country. In fact, they have a special entry point for ASEAN countries in their immigration gate at the airport and never had any problem, unlike some “other” countries. Love their noodles, yummmy.

  3. Finally Woken says:

    @Toni: indeed, although they always think I’m a Vietnamese, hence always speak to me in their language. I love the country too, have been there few times and will definitely will go back again. Nothing can beat original pho bo!

  4. Bách khoa toàn th? Trí th?c cho nh?ng con ng??i sáng t?o | Bách khoa toàn th? m? Vi?t Trí th?c cho nh?ng con ng??i sáng t?o |

  5. Finally Woken says:

    @Tuan: in case you didn’t notice: I’m not Vietnamese. So I have absolutely no idea of what you’re saying. So I’m going to delete your comment. Cheers

  6. Oooh, I love Vietnam! Went on a holiday trip with the family (well, business trip for dad and holiday trip for the rest of us lol) to Hanoi back in 2001 and had a fabulous time!!

    I have to say that my experience in the South Korea Embassy in Indonesia was very pleasant. No useless queues, just straight forward one page application. And I received it on the day promised (I can’t remember how many days it took, but wasn’t very long).

    My US visa done through the US Sydney consulate however is another story…


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