Had the misfortune of having to go to Moc Bai, last week, always unpleasant but getting there + back with everything I left with, both arms, legs, those sort of things, I consider to be a victory. Getting a 3 month Business Visa that is valid for 3 months, however, was a battle I hesitate to say I even came second in, given that the visa I eventually had thrown at me was backdated 13 days + then, just for good measure, the 3 month period issued was a further 3 days light of any 3 month period I know of. So, I make that 16 days I've been cheated out of, add that to the standard, everyday fees that are cheated out of foreigners on a routine basis, I've been well + truly rinsed!
The last visa I got at Moc Bai was backdated 2 days + a further 4 days were skimmed off the '3 months', so that's 6 days extorted from me, 16 this time, at this rate they'll have to start issuing 6 month visas just to allow for the days that are chiselled off. A further annoyance, to add to the catalogue of Moc Bai's failings, is the increasing number of 'hustlers' that now pollute the already far from welcoming atmosphere. They offer to push your passport to the front of the queue + expedite it receiving an exit stamp, nothing you can't do for yourself + further paying for people just to do their jobs didn't tempt me. I will just mention that even with the absence of there being any queue this 'service' is still available. As is, a lift to the Cambodian border facility (Bavet), 3 km away, this cheeky, young scamp tried to tell me (it's less than 0.5 km in actual fact), he spoke English well but his comprehension of "No, thank you." was cruelly exposed as a problem area. Sadly, I had to resort to less formal expression which showed the same level of respect as I was being shown, namely, none, but there were no grey areas as far as understanding my gist went so progress was made, as far as the brotherhood of man, not so much. Funny, though, how 3 km comes up short in reality, in the same way that 3 months on your visa does, too!
These guys are also allowed to loiter about the 'arrivals suite', the destination of the arduous hike you have to undertake back from Bavet, here, the racket is getting the bloke in the 'Visa on Arrival Booth' to do his job. This booth had a distinct closed/not open look about it, there's a small hatch conveniently placed at about my waist height, so children + dwarves, I can only assume, account for the majority of their 'clients', regardless, the hatch was closed. So, rather than stand about playing getting to know you with the 'boys', I opted to knock on the door + open it. You'd think I'd just wandered into the Golden Temple with a muddy pair of wellies on, the lone guy manning the post wasn't happy, but neither was any other official I'd dealt with + what should I have done? Made an appointment? Somehow made a reservation in advance? Booked an audience with the guy? I was reaching my limit for being treated like something you've trodden on + I was near the end of my ordeal, the guy spoke no English, continuing the 'no help whatsoever' theme that Moc Bai offers the visitor, it's as though the idea that a few foreigners might pass through the place never crossed anyone's mind. It's not that I expect everyone to be able to speak English, but I do in the same way I expect a life guard to be able to swim. Alas, he wasn't the source of information I'd hoped for, a price list for the various visas wasn't present, that would be totally out of place, not in keeping at all, as it happens I'm a whiz with numbers in Vietnamese + a mere 45 minutes later my overpriced + 'underdone' visa was ready. One more surly, charmless, 'uniform' to scrape me off the bottom of his shoe, stamp my passport + 'Welcome to Vietnam, We Hope you Enjoy your Stay!'.
For me, the nature of the visa policy, a state sponsored, completely unregulated free-for-all, + an open invite to exploit foreigners, is something I've watched only intensify for more than 10 years, now, + it must be fair to say it doesn't serve to do anything positive for the reputation of a country I'm hugely fond of, the very opposite, I'd guess. I accept it because I have to, but don't ask me to like it, you don't have to nod, smile, + pretend every thing's peachy, being a mindless sycophant doesn't make you a good mixer, a 'cultural chameleon'. Disagree with me, by all means but please, don't give me, 'You're not in the west, if you don't like it, 'k off back to.............'. I'm aware of where I am, most of the time, I assure you, but you are allowed a whinge, from time to time, apart from about how hot it is, or red lights not necessarily meaning stop, stuff like that, but the idea I can't moan because it's not "my country" isn't something I buy into, either, it isn't my country, or yours, or anybody else's- none of it's mine, or his, or hers, it's all OURS. Ask John Lennon, he's with me on that one! Anyway, there must be plenty of other angles you can have a pop at me from, maybe you enjoy paying for the same thing twice? I'm sure if you look hard enough.............