25 hours to Viet Nam


It’s 3 am and I am up – 25 hour on the road across a few time zones will do it to you. But I am in a comfortable bed and showered so life is good. I knew getting here will be a trip, in both senses of the word but it is what it takes to get our global family together.

We are meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam. Mom and dad flying from Prague, Petr and his wife Kiah, 3 kids and father in law coming from Perth. So 3 continents meeting on the 4th one. Go figure. I left Atlanta almost 2 days ago on a midnight flight to Seoul and then 4.45 hours to Hanoi.

I knew the flight is long, we did it once on our way to Chiang Mai for one of the other family reunions in Thailand, for Petr and Kiah’s wedding 10 years ago. That time we flew with all 3 kids under 7 and that is a memorable journey – so honestly this was a piece of cake, being alone with Diazepam, comfort exit row aisle seat and a half empty plane where I quickly swapped it for an available 3 seater which served as a bed for the whole trip. Big score.. and 8 hours of sleep in, sort of – because there is another 9 hours of flight! We were hour delayed sitting on a plane and then had to take an adjusted route due to weather so 15 hours turned to 17. My Bejeweled, 2048, documentaries, Cult and Dictator podcast knowledge is totally up to speed. I even had a little doggie behind me with this huge marine to entertain us which was definitely a first. What dog can bark 3x in 17 hours and keep it together? Not ours… that’s why they are on the couch in Atlanta.

One thing that someone with engineering background needs to explain to me is the balance loading the planes. At the gate, in Atlanta, they were looking for volunteers to fly through Detroit to Seoul. Adding another 3 hours and layover and then who knows what connection wasn’t on my agenda so hardly listened – but then the prices were starting to climb – they started at $1K and ended up at $3K! That’s a nice change for a little inconvenience – a few of the younger Koreans jumped on it, no kidding. I was losing my hope for any sleep and envisioning cramped plane. But then – on board – the flight was half empty. Seriously – is this some aerodynamics/physics thing I don’t get?

This fellow surprised me as for a sec I couldn’t figure out who, what and how….

Layover and 2nd flight were also way more reasonable than I recall from 10 years ago. I guess not looking for playground or chasing 3 midgets across the airport is more relaxing – who would have expected that? The 5 hours at Incheon turned to be only 2 which was just enough to grab coffee/croissant and go to Vietnam Air gate. The airport has some pretty techy features by the way – first toilet, should have expected that. Warming seat, lots of bidet buttons – more than one which confused me, why- what exactly is going to come out and where? All buttons in Korean. I didn’t pursue this investigation any further. Second, moving and talking robot all around the terminal – it freaked me out as it came to me and started talking – apparently it translates and navigates where you need to go, even looked like it had a seat? Again, not in a state of mind to actually try it, maybe on the way back I will be fresher.

Vietnam Air was way more pleasant than I expected. New, modern Airbus, lots of food and drinks, mostly Vietnamese entertainment but I didn’t care. The only drawback was the bit frantic behavior of my fellow local travelers who thought that the only white lady on the plane doesn’t speak Vietnamese so why bother with any manners – going to your window seat through me without waiting for me to get up and let you in – and same when to the bathroom – constantly poking you with elbows and my favorite, literally getting up when the plane’s wheels got down to start getting their luggages – I refused to get up but they moved through me. Big sigh – call me snobby traveller but this was too much.

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