17 hours of flying time…a day ahead…14 hours of time change…we have arrived.
The next adventure lies ahead in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam after many hours of flying, flight delays and the normal gamut of travel trials and tribulations. Asiana Airlines was very accommodating for the late departure, providing free beverages and snacks in the waiting area of our delayed flight. The flight attendants were impeccably dressed and reminded one of the old days of flying. They were efficient and friendly in their service and did not intrude on those trying to rest. It was a long journey, but one that will surely be well worth it. Three countries are on the agenda, and many activities are calling.
This journey was planned and administered by Exotic Voyages, a travel agency based out of Hanoi, Vietnam. They planned an itinerary that fit our personal needs and did not try to fit us into a “preplanned” trip. The first questions they asked were related to what kind of travel experience were we looking for, and then they began the process. There were some parts of it that I planned myself, which they fit in and around their planned parts of the trip. It was a great marriage of our intentions and what we were looking for in our travels to SE Asia.
Why Vietnam you might ask? It all started with a discount flight to Vietnam. There are many sites that send you notifications of “mistake” fares and discount airfares to all parts of the world. When you are starting out with something in mind, but no particular timeframe, these sites prove invaluable. I use Scott’s Travels and for about $500 per person we were able to fly from Seattle to Ho Chi Minh City – in high season (Jan-Feb). And so the planning began.
The travel agent highly recommended flying between cities, as opposed to trains, busses and cars…simply to spend more time in the areas you wanted to see. There is some distance between cities in these areas and travel time can be lengthy and uncomfortable. Intercountry air travel is relatively inexpensive on the local airlines and gets you to the action faster. Being in a country where there is a completely different language, the idea of an English speaking guide was worth considering, and thus the travel agent began planning. Our wishes were to do a bike tour for at least part of our adventure, to get the ground level experience of life in the country. Tomorrow morning we begin our bike tour through the Mekong Delta with Mr. Tien and Art of Bicycle Trips. For four days we will explore the countryside and the towns by bike and boats staying in small boutique resorts along the way. Our goal is to get to know the people who live here and appreciate how they live their lives. From there we will pick up various other tours throughout Vietnam for the first week or so.
Then on to both Cambodia and Thailand adventures. More to come on those countries later…
For today, it’s Vietnam and the view from the hotel as we have yet to hit the streets. Resting is our main goal today and recovery from our long journey. Spa massages are scheduled and the rooftop pool awaits. We have learned as a couple to listen to our bodies and do what they demand once we arrive. While it may be different for each individual it’s important that you take care to rest and recover. It’s a lot of time change and sleep on a plane is always challenging. Take a day to do this and you will enjoy the rest of the vacation with greater enthusiasm.
And so…the journey begins…a new country…a new culture…kind people who welcome us to learn.