In Which I Return to Viet Nam (and this blog)

Posted on 23rd November 2023

We’re off again! MEL->SIN->SGN.

I’m now a Lecturer (read: Assistant Professor) at the University of Melbourne. And my current assignment–travel to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) to speak to high school students on AI. Hopefully some of these students will then choose to apply to us!

The trip began with a flight delay on QF35 from Melbourne to Singapore. Unfortunately as I had booked my connecting leg separately, when I subsequently missed my connection in Singapore, airline staff told they could not rebook me. 

Cue racing to the transfer desk. At the desk I was told my flight was non-refundable and I was no show. Oops. It was also already too late to book the only other flight out for the night. 

Stuck? Not quite. I booked a flight out the next day and skipped off to the gate to ask the gate agents to shift me onto the departing flight. Unfortunately after waiting for the gate to open–1 hour pre-take-off– I was told I could not proceed to the gate desk without a boarding pass… yet without the gate desk I could not obtain a boarding pass!

A literal sprint back to the transfer desk. New story: they can change my flight, but only for 150 SGD cash. Now a sprint to the nearest ATM and madly try to withdraw cash. Back to the transfer desk, sweating pouring down my glasses. After a brief panic looking for my required flight details out of Vietnam, my new boarding pass was issued.

One last run back to the gate, and by now I really needed a towel, and jump on the plane just as the doors were being closed.

Landing at around 10PM, my first stop was immigration. Let chaos reign! Half the desks were closed, hundreds of passengers were waiting, and there was no separation between tourists (who took a long time to process) and locals.

Sporadically the crowd would notice a new booth about to open. Cue stampede.

In one such stampede I managed to get near the front of the line, and exit to meet a driver from the hotel.

Thirty minutes later, I arrived at the Liberty Riverside Hotel to find that I had been booked into the “Executive Suite”, complete with personal butler, laundry service, and goodnight chocolates.

(Ver quick snaps before I exhausted myself from my phone).

Goodnight Saigon!

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