Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Final Post on Vietnam Trip

My luggage was half full when I left Malaysia but it was overweight by about 5 kg after the trip. As I checked in my luggage, I prayed silently that I would not be charged for excess baggage. Thank God for answering my prayer.

After collecting my luggage, I walked towards the exit. Suddenly, the immigration officer called me and requested for my luggage to be scanned. After scanning, I thought it was ok for me to leave. As I was walking away, I was called again to open my luggage! I was shocked and a bit fearful. He asked me whether I bought any new clothes and I said yes. He asked, “How many?” and I answered about 20 (actually I counted 14 when I reached home). He said that it’s quite a lot. I told them that there are all for my family and I have big family (including my in-laws). He said according to the regulation I was only allowed to bring in 3 pieces of new clothing. I told him that I was not aware of this. Then, he picked this custom declaration slip somewhere and showed it to me. I saw and read the regulation. But I was still puzzled. Later, I realized that the regulation applies to foreigners only not Malaysian. The whole conversation actually took place in Bahasa Malaysia. He checked through my luggage and found a can of coke and a bottle of coke. I explained that I collect them as souvenirs. He asked about the rest of the content, and I told him that those are mainly souvenirs. He seemed reluctant to let me go but I guessed that he had no reason to retain me. Eventually, he said nevermind and ok. Probably, through the conversation he realized that I’m a Malaysian and released me. For whatever reason, I thank God for His protection and favour.

More on Vietnam…

Things that I find different in Vietnam
  • Left-hand drive.
  • Most bikers wear hat and mask, and not helmet.
  • Wet tissue is served before meal – clean first before you eat.
  • Toothpicks are available on every table – my Dad need not ask for toothpick when he’s there.
  • Tea is served with lemon slices.
  • Wax is used to start the fire for steamboat. Hmm…not so healthy.
  • Blackboard and chalk is still used in the University for teaching.
  • The rain coat is rather unique – it covers the front and back of the motorbike. It comes in assorted colours.

  • Cool rain coat

    Look, there is a child in between the 2 adults.

    A Taxi

    About Vietnamese
    To me, they are very simple people – hardworking, clean, extremely creative (look at all the traps and the tunnel they designed). Generally, the ladies are pretty and sweet. Because of the food they eat (non oily and sour), you hardly see any fat Vietnamese. Their portion of the beef noodle is smaller than here but it is just nice. Malaysians tend to overeat. Occasionally, as I traveled around Ho Chi Minh City, I said a short prayer for Vietnam. May God bless this nation, and that the whole nation would turn to Him.

    Overall, it was good trip – both for business and shopping. It was good to meet up with some of the Universities and Colleges. So far, I have only 1 Vietnamese student in my course and he has just graduated. I hope to see more Vietnamese students, and this trip will enable me to relate to them better. Basically, they have 2 main concerns in studying overseas – language and finance. We have compared the cost, and it is definitely more affordable for them to study in Malaysia to earn a UK degree than studying in UK. We have also assured them that English support will be provided. Hopefully, the collaboration would be successful.

    My Passport
    My passport was blacklisted about 13 years ago. Why? It’s a long story. Anyway, someone used my old IC to apply for a temporary passport, and that someone was caught for being involved in illegal activities. Because the Immigration Department wanted to find out the main culprit, they blacklisted my passport. The case was closed only this year. For the past 13 years, whenever I go overseas (except Singapore), I must carry an additional document from the Immigration Department to certify that my passport is genuine. Then, only I’m allowed to enter in to and out from the country. The trouble is I had to renew the letter each time it expired, and the renewal time is different from my passport expiry date. Initially, I had problems renewing the letter and I also had to renew the letter annually. Later, the Immigration Department changed it to 5 years. Actually, in 1994, I went to Michael Chong and he held a press conference to highlight my case. I was featured in more than 10 newspapers – Malay, English and Chinese. Since then, I had no problem in getting the letter. I was even interviewed by one of the Malay press to share my experiences.

    The letter expired early this year. So, I had to go to the Immigration Department in Putrajaya to renew it. They asked me to wait for 2 weeks. Previously, I could get the letter renewed on the spot. I thought that I had to return to Putrajaya again. Surprisingly, the letter was sent to me, and it included a cover letter that states that my case has been closed and I do not need the letter to travel anymore. Praise the Lord!

    This Vietnam trip is the first time I could use the ‘Green Lane’ to pass through the Immigration at the airport without any glitches. No letter. No hassle. It felt good. What a relief! I am no longer an illegal immigrant. Hee! Hee! Hee!

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