Every single time I travel, I have to go through the hassles of looking for a companion to go with me.
I’ve posted via MSN, spread the news far and wide, and hear crickets in response. The last time I went to Myanmar and Cambodia, my ex-boss went with me, but this year, she was determined to go visit Japan (to which I have no interest of) so again, I had to look for another companion to travel with me.
But this time, it was different.
“Forget it,” I said. “It’s too much of a hassle.”
So I called up my travel agent and asked her, “Look, long vacation’s coming up on April 4… what’s the best tour out there at a reasonable price. I’m looking at Bali, Vietnam, Korea, and Laos.”
“Oh, and the tour has to accept just one person. It’s only me that’s going,” I added.
Fortunately, my lovely travel agent found me a tour that’s just perfect — so I paid the cash, took a brief look at the itinerary and signed up! 🙂
Next destination: Hanoi, Vietnam
I arrived bright and early last Wednesday after staying at work till 1:00 am. Needless to say, I didn’t get enough sleep as I still had to pack, and was afraid of actually oversleeping and missing my flight because I was too tired!
There were 18 people in my group, and I was just one of the three people who went alone. The trip looks promising and heck, worse comes to worse, am armed with Jeffrey D. Sach’s “The End of Poverty,” there’s enough entertainment to keep it from being too boring:
I slept soundly on the 3.5 hour plane, awaking only to eat a simple breakfast (I can never say no to food :)). We spent a lot of time at the Hanoi airport waiting for people to all get their bags. Sigh, one of the disadvantages of going with a group — tons of waiting around.
Regardless, I took the time to appreciate my surroundings — At long last! I was already in Vietnam! I’ve always wanted to go ever since early last year! 😉
The Hanoi International airport looks even better than our own Taoyuan International Airport — and this is Vietnam you guys!
Very impressive — they did a terrific job of giving us first-time visitors a good initial impression about their country. You won’t even think it’s too third world from the looks of it — this is definitely something Taiwan’s own government officials can consider if they get on to renovating our own Taoyuan airport.
But before I get more into my trip, one thing about Vietnam though, at least in the northern part of Hanoi, their weather is similar to that of Taiwan. It has four seasons and right now, it’s fall with a comfortable temperature of around 16-21 degrees.
But of course, ignorant me who didn’t even care to read the Chinese itinerary, I neglected to read about that.
So what did I wear?
A tanktop, a light sweater (good thing I brought one!) and super short shorts! 😦
You guessed it, people at the airport thought I was crazy. Heck, and by the end of the first night, lil’ me was slightly freezing!
Whihc is lesson to all you fellow travelers, check the weather reports before you travel to a foreign land! 😉
Anyway, back to the story, Hanoi is at the northern part and is the capital of Vietnam. It’s also considered as Vietnem’s cultural center, where tons of relics and historical sites to visit.
Surprisingly, Hanoi doesn’t look like a city. When we arrived, there weren’t a lot of cars on the streets, and I couldn’t help but ask our local guide, Xiao Zhen, “Where are all the people?!”
On the other hand, Ho Chih Minh looks more of a bustling metropolis from what I’ve hard. People would have the analogy of Hanoi being similar to Beijing of China, while Ho Chih Minh looks more like Shanghai and Hong Kong, the commercial centers of the country.
But like I said, I didn’t do ANY research on Vietnam before I stepped on the plane. I was far too busy the week before to do any pre-planning (ah, the joys of being on a tour), so every second was a discovery where I was concerned.
Anyway, like any other tour groups, Xiao Zhen led us to our next destination — to EAT AGAIN!
The pink restaurant on the far left is the restaurat we went to. Looks great, huh?
We sat inside with all the windows were open. Finally, after living in a cramped city in Taipei, we finally had some space! Aaaaaah….
And of course, OMG, but the food was super good!
There were fried spring rolls, bamboo rolls on sugar canes you can sweetly bite on, sauteed light veggies with meat, all served with minimum oil as Vietnamese don’t like to dribble their food with too much fat:
Fish, which looks extremely good but was the only dish in the restaurant I didn’t like.
My tour buddies were fun. We spent the first lunch getting to know each other a bit and drinking some fruit wine, which we found out was to be served on every meal. Hahaha, wine always have a way of opening people up and this was no exception.
But truly, I was very lucky to have some very cool traveling companions on the group. They were all friendly and immediately welcomed me to their group.
Gotta eat and study — I’ll continue this for later! 🙂