Money money Monday

I leave work early on Monday to attempt to get this emergency cash which has gone from being an exciting adventure to a somewhat tedious. I ask my colleague if they can explain to the taxi driver where I want to go & assume after quite a long & drawn out conversation that this has been done. I think we have made it maybe 100 metres before the taxi driver turns to me saying something in Vietnamese. I have learnt quickly that this is pretty standard; I get in, say where you want to go, the driver appears to understand but what actually happens is that then I spend the trip directing using a mixture of broken Vietnamese & google maps. This journey was no different, except surprisingly I managed to navigate all the way there without any google map help. (And as a side note – apart from the time google maps tried to take me through a swamp & lake it has been pretty indispensable at helping me to get around)

I arrive at the bank go in, have no idea what I am supposed to do, thankfully a nice security man pulls a ticket out of a machine – like the kind you get on the deli counter in the supermarket, then rushes over offering it to me, whilst gesturing to sit down. I sit down with the other people waiting, there are screens that tell you which numbers are being served just like Argos I am thinking, when a woman walks in completely ignoring all of this orderly, organised, structured, somewhat British system and confidently bypasses the security guard & ticket, marching straight to the desk of her choice, with absolutely no challenge from anyone. I am sure I grumble out loud..

It takes a really long time before it gets to my number, I anxiously approach the counter & explain to the lady that I need to collect a Western Money transfer. She looks up at me & says ‘sorry’ not as a question just that one singular word – ‘sorry’ and I think oh God they don’t do it, why is she sorry, what is she sorry for, but before this has a chance to escalate to total meltdown status she has asked me for all my details.

2 forms, several photocopies and a series of questioning that would be satisfactory for the likes of MI5, and I have been ushered over to the cashier to collect my money. She comes over with me, it feels like she is keeping an eye and making sure it’s all proper and correct. Needless to say the man in front of me has drawn out what seems like BILLIONS of Dong and is counting every single note, still, I feel less anxious knowing I have made it through all of the tests and all I have to do is wait to collect my money. Soon enough it’s my turn, the machine counts out the money, she then hands it to me and asks me to count it again, I do. I put it in a bag inside a bag, and as I get up to leave she says ‘be careful….. thank you, have a nice day’ I suppose $500 of Dong is quite a lot of money to walking around with in a country where that is more than enough to survive on very comfortable for a month, I think…. and promptly walk straight into the glass door so hard that it rebounds me a good metre backwards across the bank to gasps of horror. I think I shake my head in the recoil, take a deep breathe and attempt the door again. After all of the excitement of the last few days, I am not going to let a door ruin my adventures, so I pull the handle this time, and I am FREE, free from the bank, with some money in my pocket, all of which I managed to sort out by myself with a little help from Jessica in Miami, Florida……

Covert Operation Collect Cash..

So Saturday arrives and I drag myself out of bed and begin the pottering that I have now become accustomed to since my life is not filled with roller derby and CrossFit. I am making the most of this aforementioned pottering and I suspect I have become rather excellent at the art of procrastination in spite of having no television and very limited other time wasting devices.

It has rained torrentially and steadily since I woke up this morning & in the back of my mind & one of the reasons behind my reluctancy to do anything proper is because of the mission that awaits me – collecting my emergency Western Union money transfer. I am sort of hoping that the rain stops, or at least dies down, but in the very short time that I have lived here I have soon learnt that often it doesn’t.

I map out my route noting that it is only a 10 minute walk, the bank is open (according to this website) until 3:30pm I have managed to accomplish pretty much nothing up until this point so decide it’s time to spring.. yes SPRING into action. So I gather my passport my scrap of paper with everything I need written on it, obligatory backpack for stuff I might need to buy, bumbag with phone for music – headphones also for music. I then decide I need to re-write the scrap of paper so it’s legible in case anyone else needs to see it. Yes that’s better now it’s very neat. Flip flops are on, music is on, rain mac on, umbrella up and off we go….

See it’s not so bad, just a little gloomy & wet. Always warm too, so it’s not so bad getting wet when it’s still nice & toasty. I find the bank that’s website promised me it would still be open. It looks very closed, I can see a security guard inside but that looks about it. I try calling them, it rings & rings. I summise that this bank is shut, but as I have now established that I appear to be in some sort of financial area there are many banks. Many banks that are all closed.. Hmmm. I am about to give up when I see one that is open – the door is open – the workers are sat around eating their lunch with a security guy. HOORAY I found one, I walk in beaming ready to get all my money, & am met with gasps of horror followed by the security shoeing me out whilst telling me they are closed. AGHHHH.

That’s it I am defeated. The banks are shut my money will have to wait. I try an assortment of credit cards in numerous cash machines (it’s a bit of a luck of the draw as to which cash machines will dispense money to you at any given time) until I manage to successfully get myself millions of dong, then go & buy some completely unessential nonsense in the supermarket so it doesn’t feel like a totally wasted trip. Then I flip flop my way back across the river thinking how it sounded a lot more exciting when I spoke to Jessica in Miami. I suppose the excitement will have to wait until Monday now.

Madam madam no working..

So my last post was about supermarkets. I have several near to me, but on the way back from somewhere I can’t remember the other night I stopped at one of my 2 most local and (as always) ended up with loads of things I didn’t actually need and hardly any of the things I did. I went to the checkout ‘membersip please?’ I am not a member – you get asked this same question almost everywhere and I have taken to saying ‘how do I become a member?’ I am pretty certain they are seething when I do this. Also I am a member of many places & so far have had no rewards that I can work out for these memberships. I have no idea what it means, but I feel like I want to/need to be a member of everything, just because I can. I couldn’t be bothered tonight, I shook my head, I just wanted to eat my ice cream, it had blue stuff on it and looked magical. My card didn’t work, I gave her another card – didn’t work, they tried it in multiple machines, the manager came, different cards, NOTHING WORKED. For some reason I cannot explain I didn’t feel embarrassed or horrified as I would have done in the UK, I don’t know why, it was both of these things. I took the cards back from the manager and tried to draw cash out of the cash machine in the supermarket. (I had tried this before – it didn’t work then) It didn’t work. I put my card in, waited about 15 seconds, it spat it out, I showed the manager, he looked at me and shook his head sadly. This is it I thought, I shall starve, no blue ice cream *sob* – ‘DELIVERY?’ he says… ‘now?’ I am puzzled, most supermarkets deliver for free, I had no idea this one did, certainly not NOW as he said. He waves at a young boy in a pink t-shirt with the store logo, he collects my 3 bags of shopping, nods at me and gestures for me to follow. I am a bit confused about this, I live so close, even a sprint home and he would beat me. He ties the bags round bits of his little scooter and slaps the seat and looks at me. I look behind me, he says something and moves the bike off the curb and slaps the seat again… I haven’t been on a motorbike since Kunal took me to college on one that he had acquired from God knows where, I climbed on the back sheepishly, told him my address and he immediately went in the opposite direction, but I thought perhaps he knew a shortcut. I don’t know, maybe I said it wrong, maybe it was some sort of weird fate, because here I am sat on the back of this scooter, whizzing around my fancy neighbourhood, no helmet (sorry mum) weaving in and out of the speed humps to get my shopping delivered as I have cash at home, and I completely forget about all of this because it is the best feeling and I NEED TO GET A BIKE BECAUSE A BIKE IS FREEDOM. He pulls over, I show him my address on the phone, he laughs at me says exactly what I said (or so I thought) and we are at my house, and he is trying to give me a fraction of a penny change. I shoe him off, put my melted blue ice cream in the freezer and after whatsapping various friends who are confused by the legalities of this situation, I declare that I love this place dearly and add motorbike to my list of things to do 😀