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No Man's Land

Hanoi, Vietnam


Blogboy, we sincerely apologise for what you are about to read. After completely disregarding your advice, the following horrific events ocurred.....why oh why didn't we listen to your wise words?!! After a couple of sleepy days in Vientiane we took a 24 hour bus to take us straight to Hanoi. We all expected a hellish journey but little did we know it was going to be worse than we could ever have imagined. The events that transpired here were so traumatic that it has taken us a couple of days to be able to relive this nightmare.

19:00- Depart Vientiane on a dangerously overloaded bus. A city's supply of sugar and our rucksacks filled the aisle.
22:00- Entire bus disembarks for a communal wee on edge of a Laos road.
00:00- Sleeping was impossible enough a feat on the overnight bus, yet any efforts were further squandered by a chorus of snorers that surrounded us.
06:30- Arrive at border.
07:45- Stamped out of Laos with no problems. However, Erin C Gillham notices slight water damage to passport. With blissful disregard we proceed to the Vietnamese Immigration Office.
08:00- Murph, Tay and Colly progress swiftly and smoothly through immigration and are happily stamped into Vietnam.
08:02- One of the guards (referred to from this point on as Satan) hands back Erin's passport and exclaims- "No entry!"
08:03- Erin turns to Murph with bottom lip quivering saying, "they won't let me in as my passport is damaged." Murph retorts, "don't be ridiculous," and returns confidently to the desk, said passport in hand. Satan again says, "No entry," at which point the passport is thrown on the desk with a slightly hysterical shriek of, "this is a British passport!"
08:04- Erin starts crying.
08:05- Tay starts crying.
08:06- Murph starts crying.
08:07- Coldfish Collman manages to hold back her tears.
08:08- Phone call to Daddy Gillham. After a chipmunk-esque explanation from Erin, Daddy G requests to speak to someone who isn't crying. Recomposed Murph takes the call and explains that his daughter has in fact been refused entry into Vietnam. We are essentially stuck in No Man's Land.
08:20- An attempt to smuggle Erin into the country was thwarted by a wall of guards. We are not going anywhere, unfortunately our bus is- without us.
08:30- The Embassy is called and they say they will speak to Satan.
08:40- Embassy call us back to inform us that Satan has repeatedly hung up on them, the situation looks desperate.

At this point we feel the need to point out that the border is in the middle of nowhere. Returning to Laos was not an option as we no longer had visas. In addition, due to there being no British Embassy in Laos, we would have had to return to Thailand to get a new passport and thats only if the Thai immigration guards would let 'the fugitive' in.



08:50- Erin is still crying and is showing no signs of stopping as her passport corrodes further.
08:55- We set up camp opposite the immigration guards. A stare-off ensues- us versus them.
10:00- It appears we are the talk of the Embassy and due to the serious nature of the event we are now in direct cahoots with the Vice Consulate, Elliot Haines- Our hero!
10:00- 14:00- The stare- off continues interspersed with random bouts of crying, fits of hysteria and plans of where the best place to sleep in No Man's Land would be.
14:02- One guard takes pity on us and hands us an unripe and therefore inedible mango. We gratefully accept this gift.
14:05- We come to the conclusion that the damage to the passport could not have been caused by water alone. Our investigative skills lead us to only one possibility- it was the acidic vapours from mosquito repellant that had leaked into Erin's bag. We could not enter Vietnam because of bloody mosquito repellant. Brilliant.
14:06- 15:00- Elliot advises us to charm and bribe the guards. An attempt at a bribe was met with laughter and a refusal of "never!" So operation 'charm the guards' began. A number of guards succumb to our feminine wiles. However, we soon realise it was not us, but our combination padlock that was drawing their attention. This gave us an idea, we began bargaining all of our possessions in exchange for the elsuive stamp in the passport. Murph even accepts a marriage proposal in exchange for the stamp...unfortunately for us he was only joking.
15:00- The Embassy finally has some positive feedback, at long last they have made contact with Satan and some sort of fax is on the way. This came just in time as Murph's last ditch attempt at swaying the guards favour (which involved walking up to the desk pointing frantically at "please help us" in the guidebook with a pleading face) was met with an icy stare from Satan and laughs from the other guards, who incidentally we believe were watching porn.
15:30- To quote Daddy G, "the diplomatic machine was in motion." The fax arrived and an incredibly official looking handwritten note scrawled on exercise book paper was signed by both parties.
16:00- After 8 long hours we hear the sweet sound of a stamp connecting with Erin's passport. Hallelujah! We are in!

permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on April 23, 2006 from Hanoi, Vietnam
from the travel blog: The Smug Adventures of Murph, Tay, Colly & Erin
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mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!! Whoever 'blog boy'is it seems a pity his words of wisdom were ingonred. Really glad you are now safe in Hanoi and Hope Erin has secured her new passport - please keep it in a plastic bag. Enjoy the rest of Vietnam and its people.

Love mummy G

permalink written by  Debe Gillham on April 25, 2006


mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!! Whoever 'blog boy'is it seems a pity his words of wisdom were ingonred. Really glad you are now safe in Hanoi and Hope Erin has secured her new passport - please keep it in a plastic bag. Enjoy the rest of Vietnam and its people.

Love mummy G

permalink written by  Debe Gillham on April 25, 2006


That isn't a passport, its rabbit bedding. Small wonder "satan" was cautious.

Good job it happened on Friday, seems your hero Elliot is now on holiday. I wrote to say "thanks" and his assistant said she would pass on the message when he got back.

Keep the passports safe and enjoy the rest of Vietnam. My boss (American) found it hard to believe that Hanoi represented civilisation after US exploits in that part of the world 30 years ago.

Dad G.

permalink written by  Andy Gillham on April 25, 2006


Glad you are all safely in Hanoi after the exploits we've just read! Keep up the blog and the photos - and no more exciting adventures for a while please!!!! Love Mummy T.

permalink written by  Pat taylor on April 25, 2006


OMG! Soooo glad Helen didn't have to get married - what a relief that was! Glad you are all in and we can finally sleep at night again! Travel carefully and stay in touch. No more promises of marriage please Helly!! Love to you all, mummy Murphy

permalink written by  Liz Murphy on April 25, 2006


Helen, will you offer to marry me if I don't let you in somewhere???

Glad your all having fun and keeping out of trouble (!). The village is boring without you.

xxx

permalink written by  Charlie on April 28, 2006


Myself and Jon had a similar experience when we landed in Cuba for the second time. Its scary isnt it.

permalink written by  James Waller on April 30, 2006


just squirted water out of my nose-sounds awful but also very very funny now that the impending crisis has been thwarted! love you ladies

permalink written by  chazza on May 1, 2006


ah girls it sounds like a traumatic experience was had by all, glad you are all ok! you are definately keeping my mum entertained you'll be pleased to know, she tells me all about your blog whenever I ring her before I even get chance to read it myself!
Can't wait to see you all in Singapore, and Hope you have lots more funny stories to tell! Miss you lots Tay, take care, love and ginger hugs, Linz xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


permalink written by  Linz Neary on May 2, 2006


Hello banana haired warrior and scurge of the vietcong and passport men everywhere,

am highly enjoying your tales, the banter is causing me to have much "mirth" in an otherwise fairly dull office environment! keep on trucking babe, twill be a long time till we are in the same country again, but can I book in some form of dinner and then drunken entertainment and dancing like an idiot please, for whence you return?

Missing you very much,
Take care,

Your very big friend Ally
xXx

permalink written by  Ally the Monster on May 2, 2006


hee heeeee!i am loving the stories-i think u should publish them on ur return-muchus amuzus!
that is an all time travelling story that i imagine ul never 4get.I could just picture the stand off too with lots of hands on hips and hair flicking. Hey u should of wapped out the ol' liberty X routine-ud of been through in no time,mmmmmmmm.......

any hoo!keep safe and have loads a fun,cant wait 4 the next instalment.
lotsa love,ur distant friend Sammiwoo.xxxxxxx


permalink written by  S.waterhouse on May 2, 2006


blogboy reporting!!!!

hey girls well now you have not only a new stamp in the book but also an entry into the great book of:

Bus Adventures and Border Crossings From Hell!

Glad to hear you got through it all though. For others my experience was;

http://www.blogabond.com/AuthorView.aspx?UserID=44

glad to see another post and enjoying the reading!

blogboy ;)

permalink written by  Brian on May 24, 2006

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