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American "Express"

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

I just got my AMEX card renewal today. While going through the miscellaneous information that comes with the card, I came across a brochure describing my travel insurance benefits. One if I ever have lost baggage. I travel with my job quite a bit and this is one benefit that I could stand benefitting from, especially on one travel occasion two years ago....

I travelled to Vietnam to work on clean water infrastructure in the remote countryside outside of Hanoi. It was November here and I decided to travel via London, because it is one of my favourite places in the world. The weather was cold and damp; typical...so I was dressed for that weather. Upon arrival in Hanoi, the heat immediately overwhelmed me. I could feel it even in the air conditioned airport. I do not deal well with heat. My Canadian body is adapted to the chill. I was so overwhelmed, that my body heat was detected on the infrared detector that one had to go through for the purposes of detecting passengers with fevers (this was the height of the SARS scare). After clearing up the fact that I was not contaminated with some deadly disease (just a hot Canadian;), I went to claim my luggage. Well, you know where this is going. It didn't arrive. Nothing. I was told to travel to my hotel and that my luggage would be sent to me upon it's arrival. When might that be? I asked. Blank look back tells me it all. I might never see it again.

Hanoi. City of heat. Nothing but the clothes on my back. Might I also add City of Small People. I am not being stereotypical, but really, the people are just quite a bit smaller than me; at 5' 7", I towered over most people. Needless to say, I had a hard time finding anything to buy off a rack that would fit me. I call American Express to inform them that my luggage has not arrived and that I am without clothes, necessities, etc etc....the phone rings and rings. No response. I call over and over. No response. So much for their 1-800 international number. I don't know what good it would have done me anyway, since American Express cards are hardly useful in most shops or markets. Bloody credit card company. Not a bit of help.

Can you see me asking Do you accept American Express to these ladies??? Only wads of cash; there is no coin currency in Vietnam, so some of my bills were literally the equivalent of pennies. The wads of cash made me feel like a millionaire. To some of these people, I was a millionaire.

I ended up having to have clothing tailor made. That's right; full body measurements and entire outfits created in less than 24 hours. Now that's service. Delivered to the hotel. Quite the experience having your measurements taken on the street; chest and everything. I am the proud owner of fancy traditional Vietnamese clothing that still hangs in my closet. Pure silk. Less than $20 for an entire ensemble. I ended up working in the heat in the traditional Vietnamese garb for almost a week. A few days before I left, my t-shirts and shorts, bathing suit arrive....

I still have a hard time putting that whole experience into words because it was such a crazy trip. I have some diary entries. Maybe I'll share a few some time.

  1. Blogger riskybiz said:

    Cool story!

    I was reading your bio, do you think that non Canadians know that you copied a beer commercial.

  1. Blogger OhioRuthie said:

    Ellen's american express commercial is on as I read this...just a bit of nonsense info I wanted to shareLOL
    When I travel I try to only have carry on...I don't think I could handle the stress of lost luggage.

  1. Blogger Michelle said:

    AMEX in Oz s such waste. I have one and most businesses here won't accept it because of the charges etc.
    Markets in Singapore are the same, measured up in the morning delivered that evening! I wish Aussie markets would learn LOL

  1. Blogger chase said:

    i didnt know it was a commercial, non canadian that I am, :::smile:::...i personalyy would love to have clothes made for me in one night. I would love to see pics of the clothes you had made...maybe you could email me some? just out of curiosity. Great story, sorry I havent been round in a week or so..lil busy.

  1. Blogger Chloe said:

    i was amazed at the clothes story, but what i loved most is that you went there to work on clean water infrastructure. This is wonderful.

  1. Blogger dawn said:

    Your story was great, I was all ready to comment on it. And then I read that your bio is a beer commercial and I realize that you kick a tremendous amount of ass. (The water infrastructure is pretty cool too)

  1. Blogger Cathy said:

    Yes, should have given credit where credit was due! (although I don't like Canadian:)
    I really like Ellen and find it weird somehow that she endorses Amex. I usually have at least one change of clothes in my carry on but for some reason on this trip I didn't. I forgot to mention that the worst of it was not having sandals.
    I met a few Aussies when I was there. I stopped briefly in Thailand as well; many mant Aussies there. Must be rather reasonable for you to travel to those parts (?)
    Hey, how ya doing? I will take a photo of an outfit and post it. (not with me wearing them, thought:)
    Yes, it's one of the great things about my job. I am sure I will be posting more about it especially when I return to work again in January.
    Don't know about the ass kicking ;) Just another beer drinking Canadian?/;)

  1. Blogger Dr. Deborah Serani said:

    What an amazing job you must have. Traveling to such wonderful and un-touristy places.

    Cash is always King, isn't it?!


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