Saigon, Consulate, Hospitals and Hotels

A lot of the days in Binh Hoa blur together with very little highlights. Most of the time is spent playing Wii, PvZ and Marble Mixer, going out for coffee and tea, and laying around in the heat drinking fresh fruit juice. This is how most of the time was spent between arriving in Binh Hoa and the morning of June 9th. That morning we woke up at 3:45 to catch a bus to Saigon to spend a few days working on immigration stuff.

I am not a morning person, and sleeping on buses is not fun, but somehow I manage to do it when I’m really tired. I managed to sleep for a few hours in the bus before we stopped for breakfast. Just after breakfast I realized that I had lost my iPhone. As I had been miserably trying to sleep I wasn’t really paying attention to what was in my pocket, and had no good idea of when I could’ve lost it. We searched the floor and seats in the bus, and in my pockets, and it was clear that I’d lost it. Tien switched to Vietnamese mode and began chatting away with the guys in the front seat, then she made some phone calls and when she turned back to English mode she’d located my phone and it was safely at the bus station in Long Xuyen. I’d lost it in what a car that belonged to the bus service that had taken us from a meeting point to the bus station. The driver found it and turned it in. That was mighty nice of him, though he couldn’t do anything with it since it was locked and armed to wipe the data after 10 failed attempts. I had actually given it up for loss, accepting that I’d simply have to buy an iPhone 4 when I got back to America, but it would be useful to have. Honestly, my iPhone is more useful than the iPad is because it fits in my pocket. I’d take my iPhone over my iPad any day.

Once we were in Saigon we headed straight to the visa service that Tien was working with to handle the final details of the process. We spent the morning there doing paperwork. Actually I mostly played Freecell on my iPhone while Tien did paperwork, but I ended up having to dig up some financial records off my laptop and the internet. I did get a little worried when I plugged my USB containing PDF files with all of my financial data and it was immediately attacked by a virus. I don’t know all that happened, but I spent a few minutes back on my Mac doing some CLI-fu to delete all the .exe files that were now scattered around my USB drive.

Over lunch I explained to Tien exactly why a service than handles the personal details of immigrants, including all personal details, should take extra care to keep their computers free of viruses. I explained that how an infected computer is “owned”, meaning the people controlling the virus have more control of your computer than you do, and thus have access to all of your data. I explained that it was possible that the virus had taken my personal financial information that was all neatly contained in two PDF files, one from Ameriprise Financial and one from the IRS, and sent them off to another computer where somebody could use them to do anything I could do with my finances, like open new lines of credit or transfer funds to other bank accounts. Her expression was something of a horrified wonder, and she said she had no idea it could be so complex. I told her that a lot of people don’t understand that, like the people at the visa service, which is why online crime is so easy. I didn’t tell her about the millions of dollars I’d made… er… nevermind… *ahem*

Since we’d be spending more time near the consulate we found a hotel nearby there and relaxed for the rest of the evening. Our room had two twin beds, a comical feature to us both.

June 10th was spent mostly at hospitals. Tien had to get some blood work, shots, x-ray’s and some other medical tests for her immigration. We both spent most of the day waiting in the lobby. I watched all the people going here and there doing their exams, and found it funny when one girl took off her high heels shoes when she got weighed, but put them back on before they measured her height.

That night we went to a nice restaurant on the 12th floor of a hotel with a view out over district 1 and had a nice dinner. The food was good, as was the wine, and we were the only people there so it was nice and quiet, a rare experience in Saigon. The waiter spoke in an interesting accent, and it almost sounded more Chinese than Vietnamese. I wished more Vietnamese people spoke that way because it was easier for me to hear the structure of the language. Tien said that it was the polite way to talk to people you don’t know as opposed to the friendly banter where linguistic rules and elocution are tossed aside.