To mark the start of the summer holidays we took off on our first family holiday of the year to Ho Chi Minh City, South Vietnam. Rising at stoopid o’clock we wearily snuck out of the house to meet the taxi that would take us to Abu Dhabi airport. That balmy Friday morning it seemed as if dawn was having a lie in as, by the time we reached the airport, light had not yet won the battle against the night’s stars.
Having worked up to the last minute, our usually non existent ‘last-minute-buy-at-the-airport’ list had acquired a few items….all required before check-in. As frequent departees from Abu Dhabi International, we were sure we could tick these items off our list with ease. That was until we arrived at a different terminal; a less well-stocked terminal. ‘Poof’ went the list – we couldn’t even buy a bottle of water, let alone a suitcase lock, hand sanitizer or reading material (read: glossy mags)……
Needless to say, with too much TV/Movie time to catch up on, none of us made any effort to make up for our lack of sleep……in all honesty we just about managed to tear our eyes away to eat airplane food! Gotta love flying – trapped in a confined space, nothing to do but eat, drink and catch up on non PG movies! All fun until the interruption of border formalities.
Now, this is DH’s and my third trip to Vietnam. Granted, our first was almost 15 years ago….but who would have thought things have changed so much?? Ten minutes before landing, we were each issued with a yellow form (thank goodness I carry a pen in my bag…because the airline does not offer one with the form that is compulsory to fill in!). Skim reading the form, I had to chuckle. The form related to health. Another chuckle. As my eyes scanned the form, I looked to the yellowing bruises on both arms – typhoid and Hep A….vaccinations recommended when travelling to Vietnam…administered 3 weeks prior and still showing. How is it that we need to complete medical info for a country where visitors are advised to vaccinate? Paraphrasing the form – ‘Have you vomited, had a temperature, felt unwell?’…..at least one of my kids has these symptoms every other day! It doesn’t mean they have Ebola or Zika. Not the warmest of welcomes Vietnam….but then if I had known what lay ahead….I might have laughed this one off.
Then came immigration. Before the Brexit vote, I had joked to my British husband that he would be in the other line at Dublin airport this summer, and for every other European holiday ! Post Brexit vote, one would have thought the UK passport could not pass much….alas when it came to Vietnam I was wrong. UK – in. Ireland, a member of the European Union since 1973 (same as the UK) – not. Apparently the EU is not a recognised Union, Angela Merkel…..$700 later….I and my kids have been granted 7 day visas. Angela…how is this possible? 15 years ago, an Irish passport did not need a visa. And now we do???? Irish Government??? But at the end of the day……how can the EU be broken down to individual countries? It is a Union….so how is it that an Irish passport is treated differently?