wankers. sorry, bankers

When you go away on your lonesome for a trip such as this you have to have the odd plan in reserve in case certain issues arise. By laws of average, leaving English shores for six months was bound to present the odd logistical challenge, and four months in to the day since I left Gatwick I have been presented with my first major drama.

I have no money.

Well not exactly no money. I have 210,000 Vietnamese Dong (which equates to £6.61) left over from my last ATM transaction back in Hoi An, but apart from that I am all out of local dosh. Now, this is of course a very cheap country. Last night I drank three bottles of Saigon Export in a street café for the grand sum of 36,000 VND. I stupidly even left a tip of 14,000, which I may very well have to claim back this evening given my new found poverty. Even though the price of food and drink are cheap, a couple of hundred thousand Dong isn’t going to last longer than a day. Put bluntly, I’m a little bit up shit creek without a paddle.

This is another one of those moments where travelling the world alone presents a far greater personal challenge than travelling with a mate or partner does. For instance, if this happened back in Cambodia with Fred, Indonesia with Pat or even Australia with several dozen mates, I would simply ask for a small loan until my bank gets off it’s arse and stops being so stupidly contradictive when it comes to security. I’d be sorted for a few days and would even have a partner in crime to take pity on me by buying me booze all afternoon to cheer me up. Sadly, that is not the case here in the ‘Nam so all I have for company is a ridiculously brilliant hotel room and my laptop for company.

As I mentioned, this was the type of scenario I expected at some point on the trip. When you are using your bank card in ten different countries there was bound to be a mishap somewhere along the line. My back up plan involved a plastic box hidden in my backpack (that used to actually house my business cards at work) that is my emergency box. There are earplugs, a swiss army knife, a back up MP3 player and several lemsips. There used to be 30 US Dollars in there too, which would be useful around about now, but that was spent getting into Indonesia. Thankfully there is also some left over currency from home in there too. I thought I had the grand sum of £20 as a back up, but it turns out I don’t. I have the massive sum of £40! I’m so rich it’s unbelievable…..

Now, with this in mind I could go and get it changed into the local cash my wallet so desperately needs, hire a scooter, have a lovely lunch somewhere and return to the hotel later this afternoon for my return call from the bank. But there are two issues with doing that. The first being today is officially New Years day. All banks, post offices and money exchangers are shut. Although Da Lat is much busier than I thought it would be, it’s still no Ho Chi Minh in terms of useful places to exchange money. I’m sure I could talk a random local into changing my Sterling into Dong, but I’m not convinced I’d get a favourable exchange rate. Secondly, and more importantly is my need to ensure I have enough money to pay for a bus back to Ho Chi, settle my room service charges here and then find somewhere to sleep in the countries second city for a couple of nights. Luckily I have already paid for my current reside, which ironically is the most expensive place I’ve slept in all trip.

The lovely lady working the night shift on the Nationwide switch board was very polite. Very polite, but also unable to do anything since my account was frozen thanks to me not informing them that I had moved out of my flat in Hereford and would now need my mum and stepdads address in Bristol as my listed place of rest. Which I did. In the flesh. In the Nationwide branch in my home town. Twats. Quite why it takes them nearly five fucking months to realise that I hadn’t been living in Hereford is beyond me. Look at my banking history you plebs. Payment from my work – stopped. Payment to council tax – stopped. Payment to Npower – stopped (eventually, that’s another story. They are twats too by the way) Cash withdrawals from any ATM in Europe, let alone the UK – stopped. Why is such security necessary now, so long after I moved out? Fucking moronic, power mad twats. I hate banks right now.

Excuse the colourful language but I stayed wonderfully polite on the phone to the lovely lady – I had to get that off my chest. I’ll get a five to ten minute window this evening or tomorrow morning to withdraw some cash before it gets blocked again. Then it’s up to me to change my address again online (even though some incompetent employee lost the form originally) before it gets released for real. What are the odds the ATM’s here have run out of cash because of Tet?

In other news the people of Da Lat seemed to fully enjoy it’s Tet celebrations by driving the whole family round town on their scooters, buying lots of red balloons and setting off fireworks at midnight before waking me up at 7.30am this morning by banging loud drums in the street outside my hotel for an hour and a half to no particular beat or rhythm.

Ah. The joys of travel.

Oh, and on that note here’s some pictures of my scenic journey to Da Lat from Nha Trang which I cannot be arsed to tell you about because I’m in a mood. Pictures are worth a thousand words and all that anyway……..


2 Responses to “wankers. sorry, bankers”

  1. 1 donna
    February 3, 2011 at 8:10 am

    Oh dear…such bureaucracy…you sound angry …justifiably so given all you did to let them know. Beautiful photos… I trust by the time you read this the bank have thawed…

  2. 2 Marko
    February 5, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    That’s the Rich i know and love… miserable git! Hope all goes to plan bud, hope this makes you feel better ’til you get back: i have plenty of money available to me right now.

    Seriously dude, take care love Marko x

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