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News: 30 August 2023
Jakarta construction update, two great gardens of Jakarta, proposed airport railways for Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, LRT Jabodebek officially inaugurated, and more
An unexpected hello from Chiang Mai. I was ready to go to Vietnam last week, but my visa wasn’t processed in time. The good news is that Vietnam has reinstated the 3-month visa. The bad news is they launched a new visa website that is still buggy. This unwieldy online process has caused problems for other visa applicants as well.
I applied online, but my visa returned saying that my name was incorrect. It asked for “Given Name” but maybe they wanted given and middle name, so I tried that combination. That was also rejected. Each rejection puts you back in the 3-day queue time, so I was going to miss my flight at this point. I considered a same-day visa agent, but they weren’t clear on if they were using the same visa application, and I would have paid more money to still be sweating it out waiting for an answer.
I took the easier option of booking a flight to Thailand. Luckily I had nothing else booked in Vietnam, though my cheap non-refundable CGK-SGN ticket turned into a donation to VietJet Air (you’re welcome, Nguyễn Thị Phương Thảo).
My Vietnam visa was approved today with the original name combination (first and last only) so I have no idea why this happened. If you are applying for a Vietnam visa then allow 2 weeks!
I was going to spend the rest of the year between Thailand and Vietnam, so this has just reversed the order somewhat. I will note that being a nomad allowed me to be this flexible. I also note that my Vietnamese and Indonesian friends are put through a far more arduous process of applying for a visa to my homeland in Australia.
The one downside of this rescheduling is that I missed the first full test run of the HCMC Metro Line 1. I can’t believe this line that has taken over 10 years to build is almost ready. I plan to be there during the opening week, but after missing the high-speed rail and light rail openings in Jakarta, I am done with trying to time my travels to openings. I’m still holding out for the opening of the Thailand-Cambodia and Thailand-Laos cross-border railways. If the Nong Khai - Vientiane service opens, I might be able to get back to Vietnam via this new Vientiane - Saigon flight.
I’m now in work mode for the next month as I have a month’s worth of content from Jakarta alone. I have some map ideas to work on, and I will work on the jobs board.
Part 1: A summary of the big construction projects in the city that, contrary to media reports, is not being abandoned. Update for paid subscribers. Subscribe to support the site.
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