A quiet Vietnamese visa run

Every time I step outside Vietnam, I’m amazed at how quiet the world seems. I often get comments from well-meaning expats about my visa runs. ‘Why don’t you go to the border and come back, it’s much cheaper!’ frequently confronts me. The money involved has never been a big consideration for me. Usually I’m weighing up the time cost of being away from work or the need for a short break from the pins and needles of living in a foreign culture. I’m now in Phnom Penh tapping out this article in the lovely warmth and blue skies on the three-floor bar and Jacuzzi area of a small hotel while consuming one dollar beers – and I can’t hear a single horn blasting away anywhere. Not bad for fifteen dollars a night. Traffic is organized, no one makes problems and no sudden lane changes forcing people to brake hard. Lovely! Why Phnom Penh for the visa run? The embassy is the most efficient of the seven Vietnamese visa offices I’ve visited. Again, it’s not about the money, it’s the lack of fuss, fewer awkward queues and no bad English that I’m looking for. Also, my ears truly needed a break from horns, karaoke, hammers, sirens and loudspeakers. My brain needed a sabbatical from a difficult landlord, a lovely but demented housekeeper (she puts black things with black things and so on…) and Vietnamese bureaucracy. And my heart yearned for some time away from cold weather, unreliable friends and disappointments. Vietnam,… [Read full story]


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