Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Well, we made it!!!! Thought I would really update everyone on this blog since it is 5:00am in the morning here and I can't sleep! Guess my jet lag isn't over yet....
Our flight day
It started off as a sad but exciting farewell from our house. Friends came over around 8am to say their last "goodbyes" as we said goodbye to them and our house, oh and Pedro! I started to get choked up when Ryan and I were taking a last run through of the house and saying goodbye to Pedro. Ryan said "goodbye little buddy" and I started to lose it.
We got to the airport, via Kelley(thanks Kelley!) and went to Concourse E to relax and have more friends meet up with us at the gate(it's nice to have airline friends). We soon saw our plane from the gate and were one of the last ones to board.
We were riding on a Korean Air 747, which I have never been on before, seemed massive. Found our seats and to my displeasure we had bulkhead seats all the way in the last zone. I will never understand that while I was working at Omni, why the soldiers fought over these bulkhead seats. They may have more knee space but they definitely do not have stretching leg room. Oh well.
The service was good, the movie choices were good, just had to keep ourselves busy for 14 and a half hours!
I thought the flight went fast considering it was almost 15 hours long, but we "soon" landed in Seoul, North Korea to switch planes and get on our flight to Hanoi. This 4 and a half hour flight seemed longer then our 14 hour flight. We were on a 737, which is much smaller and more crammed. Finally, we arrived at the Hanoi Airport.
Everything was going good, we were sort of well rested but our bodies exhausted from the almost 24 hours of traveling. We get up to the immigration check point, I go first, and everything seemed to check out. They let me through. Now from reading my previous blog, you will know I was worried about my little white out correction on my traveling visa, but they didn't seem to mind. Next it was Ryan's turn and they guy takes him and says he'll be back! What! I was already through the check point and now Ryan is going the opposite direction! I immediately thought of all of those tv shows and movies where we could lose each other or they are going to take him to an interrogation room and beat him...I was worried. BUT I continued on to baggage claim, I figured he would know to find me there.
I found our luggage, they all made it! I was worried since I put my favorites of everything in my new little life in Vietnam, and waited for Ryan. It was maybe 5-10 minutes but my mind was swirling of all the possibility's and what my next plan of action was going be be, but Ryan soon popped out above all of the short statured people. Yay!
We exit baggage claim, looking for signs with our names on it but nothing. We wait maybe 2 minutes and these two guys that look like backpackers come straight up to us and say "Are you Ryan?" Whew. They found us! It happened to be two first officers with Air Mekong who helped ferry the plane from Atlanta and were the welcoming committee as well. They were nice, got our things in a taxi and off we went to the hotel.
Got to the hotel, went to our room. The hotel is nice and clean but definitely not the Ritz, etc. We are exhausted but want to have at least one beer before we go to bed. The bar is still open and we order Ha Noi Beer, which is a huge bottle for $1.00. Score! We then settle in to sleep...
First full day in Hanoi
We have a good nights rest with some help of Ibuprofen PM's, and get up early for the breakfast. Ryan sends an email to one of the guys that picked us up the night before to come pick us up and take us to the GO, General Office, of Air Mekong. Breakfast is good, dishes from the East and West. Fried eggs, toast with jelly, various fruits, bacon, french fries, rice, pho bo (noodle soup with beef), ramen noodles, and Chinese braised pork, just to name a few...
Ryan had his coffee but couldn't decide if he liked it or not. VERY strong and thick, said it tasted like hot chocolate or was thick like it. The orange juice I had was like TANG. After breakfast we were walking back to our room when Jeff, the FO Ryan emailed, yelled at us from the down the hall. We got in a taxi and went about 1 or 2 kilometers to the General Office. At the office we met the "big wigs" of the airline and had a nice chat. They were all very very nice and helpful. Afterwards Ryan and I decided to try some touristing in the Old Quarter district downtown. In a taxi we went!
As I already imagined from the videos on youtube from the chaos of the streets, it was indeed chaos. I tended to shut my eyes as we were in the taxi for fear of someone getting hit. There are NO rules to the road. Motorbikes everywhere, turning and driving in either direction, people walking across the street, ahhhhhh! We have the cab take us to Hoan Kien Lake, which is the famous lake with the pagoda in the middle and right next to the Old Quarter. We step out of the taxi and realize we are on the wrong side of the street! AHHHHHH we have to cross the street! We dove right in. Ryan took my hand and we steadily moved across. Hundreds of motorbikes, buses, and cars moving at us, but as strange as it sounds, they yielded and knew exactly our moves to move "around" us. Whew, we made it to the other side and we felt like superstars!!!!
We toured the Pagoda, went to the show district to find some tennis shoes for me, and continued walking. We found ourselves lost in a matter of minutes to we pulled out the trusty Lonely Planet and followed its walking course around the area. We discovered several cool markets, people eating the the streets, everything you could ever want are sold on these streets. It reminded me of Bishkek streets and the Kuwait souk. It got HOT in the afternoon and several times we had to stop to get something to eat and step in a fanned area or air conditioning. My feet and hands were swollen to twice their size! Eventually we just needed to go back, we were exhausted. We wanted to experience pho ga on the street but it was too hot and we were not hungry so we just decided to save that for another day. We got another taxi and headed for the hotel.
Got to the hotel and decided it would feel nice to take a dip in the swimming pool. We got in and was enjoying it when a windy thunderstorm, no rain, decided to sweep up. It was lightening and I was like, get me out of here its dangerous, but the other twenty people in the pool stayed and acted like nothing was happening...
We went up to our room got some food from the hotel, which is actually very very good, and called it a night. Or at least I did at about 8pm our time. Oops!
That's all! Today is another day and we plan on going to the US Embassy to registers ourselves and go see Uncle Ho's mausoleum and FINALLY eat some pho. Speak with you soon!