Sunday, 5 January 2014

Do not stop, do not run, show no fear

That's the new rule of crossing the street in what seems like a chaos to a westerner that is the Saigon traffic!

After a real long journey, I am finally in Vietnam! Malaysia Airlines, I must say, have exceeded my expectations: nice plane, seemed quite modern, no delays, the flight attendants seemed a bit grumpy, but were polite and satisfied all the requests (mostly those for water, tea, and snack). And they have a good selection of movies (watched The Butler, Avatar, and My Week With Marilyn), and nice personal movie screens, and usb chargers!!! :) 

Saigon seems like a nice city, but nothing particularly exciting. Except for maybe the coffee... The coffee here is amazing!! They put a bit of the sweet condensed milk at the bottom of a cup, and put a filter on top, and pour water. It then takes 5 mins to brew/filter. What comes out is the most flavourful coffee I've ever tasted. It's a small (size of maybe double espresso, maybe a bit more) quite strong coffee. We drank it over ice as it's hot and humid here, and iced coffee is just what the doctor ordered! :))

"We" is the girls on the trip. We managed to find each other still in the airport, and it was nice to have company for the first day here even before the group meets. First, we went to eat Pho Bo at Pho 2000 - Pho for President (Bill Clinton ate there once), then walked around central Saigon and drank coffees! 

Saigon is quite a "developed" city for being a part of a communist country: we for example have spotted such shops as Armani, Bvlgari, Versace, and Playboy. (Yes, I said Playboy!)

Everyone's exhausted! It seems like it's been 48 hours without any sleep. Flying out to Asia takes so long, and one loses so much time in the time difference, one stops to know what day of the week it is here or back home. (We left on Saturday morning, and I'm only going to bed Sunday night... Or so I believe ;-)

And yes, the traffic rules! It seems crazy here: people on scooters, a lot of them. With kids, with babies, with dogs, little kids sometimes have what seems like a child's stool set up in front of the parent on the scooter (similar to those that our restaurants give out to customers with toddlers). Max people on 1 scooter we've spotted: 5! (3 of them were children). And they all just move, often ignoring traffic lights or other road participants. The latter is not true however... The main rule: do not stop, do not run, show no fear! Then they  factor you in into their trajectory and drive around you! Simples! And it works like magic!

Tomorrow is another day! Time to re-sync with time and sleep here! Ciao!

Saturday, 4 January 2014

"Welcome to Malaysia Airlines flight. The flight will take 11 hours and 30 minutes"

What's the largest airplane?

I'm now in A380-800, and it's HUGE! Like 2 decks and goes on to a 100th row or something like that! And it's full! 

(Wiki confirmed, it's 3rd largest passenger aircraft, and the highest passenger capacity one!)

(Views ahead and back from row 62)


London's weather today is helping the excitement that's finally taking me over. It's pi$$ing out there. Sorry, there's no better word for it than that. 

Waiting at the gate at Heathrow is nearly the first time I do feel like "Yay! I'm going on vacation! I'm going to Vietnam!!!". It's very easy to miss on this earlier on if the trip is organized: the overplanner that I usually am, I did not have to book the hotels or transfers, or even look carefully where I go (there'll be a guide, why bother with figuring out the directions). And life, as it is usually, just makes your head spin with thousands of other things, and there hasn't been much room or space to think about This! 
Well, now I do! :)

I'm very happy to leave my everyday life for even a couple of weeks! Trips in general (I think) help one embrace what one likes and loves, and run away from the routine of life. And I'm all up for it!

...flying to Saigon via Kuala Lumpur with Malaysia Airlines! Off we go!

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Here I am, on New Year 2014 Eve, finally decided I'm gonna do that. It is not any form of New Year resolution, I don't do those. It's just every time I travel, I want to tell the world the fascinating story about the place and the path and the people, but as soon as I get back, oh well, the everyday life takes over and the head starts spinning, and there's no more time.

I am going to Vietnam in 4 days! And I want to share this story as I go along. The plan is to go from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) to Ha Noi, mostly on a bicycle, but with some coach and train travel in between. All in all in 2 weeks, with a group of complete strangers and a guide, I won't have to worry about the logistics, and will hopefully be able to embrace what Vietnam has to offer!

I rarely travel without my SLR camera, but those photos will be up and processed only after I'm back home. So please stand by! :)

Here we go! Happy 2014!