Today I left Thailand and took a quick 1 1/2 flight to Hanoi, Vietnam.
As we started to leave, I was surprised to notice the plane was fairly empty. Of course two big buys were sitting next to me; just us three sardines jammed in row 11. I asked the stewardess if I could move back one row to the emergency exit. She told me sure, but I would be charged more; this after being charged about $45 for my one check in bag. No thanks! She said I could move to any of the black seats. I got the last laugh; the couple sitting opposite me moved, leaving three seats for me to spread out and enjoy the flight. We stayed very low, I guess due to how short the flight was and I got pretty good views of Vietnam's country side early.
I'm still unsure if I have just been here in Southeast Asia during the constantly cloudy time of year, or there is just that much smog and pollution. I am doing a 15 day tour with a group, and was a little nervous, as I couldn't really find anything online as far as reviews when I booked it. To my delight as soon as I left baggage claim there was a man waiting for me with a sign. He introduced himself and escorted me to a car. We drove to the hotel in the most chaotic traffic I have ever seen. There are traffic lights, but they are all but ignored. People swerve all over and there is constant; and I stress constant; honking of horns. The landscape however was beautiful; and I watched it pass by rather than being gripped by fear of impending doom! We arrived and I checked in. I exchanged some US currency for VND, or Vietnamese Dong. I had just gotten use to Thai Baht and hearing 60 Baht for a red bull. It is just ridiculous here. I traded $200 US for 4.6 million dong!!! What? I am tho a millionaire now.
Ho Chi Minh is pictured on all of the money. Another odd thing I saw and am not sure; maybe it was a memorial, was the communist flag flying. It made me mildly uneasy. The Vietnam flag itself is a bit of a throwback to the Iron Curtain days.
Moving on; I as I said I am going to be travelling with a group and have a welcome meeting soon. I did arrive early enough to take a quick walk and see the city a bit. So far I have noticed that it is extremely dusty here; I mean country road dusty; and that here unlike Bangkok, everyone was starring at me. It was not it my mind, it was a sure thing.....uncomfortable. So I will quickly add before my meeting...and local cuisine; that I did manage to make it to Hoa Lo prison; more commonly referred to has The Hanoi Hilton. I will just add pictures for now. In closing I will just say, with out going into detail; there are always two sides to every story; and they definitely tell a different story about the war here.
...................more coming soon..............