I’ve been in Vietnam for 9 months now and I wrote this blog post about my arrival at the time. I was only meant to be here for 3 months and had plans to be in Turkey by mid April. Could this be the year that I stay in Vietnam for a whole year for the first time?
I landed in Hanoi at 9am on Wednesday 15th January and, because I had a seat near the back of the plane, it took quite a long time to disembark. Luckily I was in no rush and was quite happy to avoid the many Vietnamese passengers who were literally scrambling to get luggage out of the overhead bins the quickest (and failing). I got my Vietnam Visa on arrival within half an hour and went to collect my suitcase. By 11am it had not arrived and most people had collected their’s, as I decided to go to report it lost, a man shouted to say his had been sitting on a different carousel further down the hall. I went over and there it was – I was relieved because the case wasn’t mine although it had nothing valuable in it.
I decided to check out the sleep pods (which they have at both the international and domestic terminals) and considered maybe paying for a nap but at 190,575 dong per hour (£6 ish) I reckoned I’d be best off going for some food instead. I’d now been awake for 24 hours and had a bit of sea-sickness feeling so I went to the ATM, drew out 2 million dong, then got the shuttlebus over to the domestic terminal. I sat next to a young girl from Shanghai who worked in Saigon but was on holiday for the lunar new year (Tet) already, she was very chatty and friendly. At Hanoi domestic terminal there are a few restaurants accessible before passport control on the 2nd floor and I chose Hai Cang where I ordered pork and rice with a side of sweetcorn and green tea. It isn’t cheap but the food was actually very tasty and the service was attentive.
I used the self check-in machines for the next flight to Dong Hoi but the bag drop didn’t open until 2 hours before the flight so I sat and waited. Outside the airport it was really windy, cloudy but very warm for January. I found a cafe where I had a cold green tea drink and they were happy for me to sit and use their WiFi (I no longer had a working SIM card).
Finally at 3.30pm I was able to drop the suitcase off and then head through passport control in search of wine. I found an Australian Chardonnay which tasted so good despite it costing about £7.50 for a large glass (extortionate in Vietnam).
The flight was on one of those small propeller planes and everyone had so much luggage that I couldn’t put my legs under my seat but it was a quick flight and I was waiting for my suitcase again at 7.15pm in Dong Hoi airport.
I took a taxi to the Vin Pearl hotel (for less than half the cost of the glass of wine) where Captain Caveman was already checked in to our room on the 19th floor. We’ve stayed here before a few times and it didn’t disappoint, the shower was great with lots of free products and I had the satsuma from the fruit plate before going to the restaurant for dinner. Captain Caveman ordered beef carpaccio to start while I went for fresh veggie spring rolls for my starter. They brought me the pork and prawn version instead but they were nice. My main meal was tamarind prawns which didn’t come with any rice so I was still a bit peckish and ate a mango from the fruit plate when I got back to the room. I unpacked my stuff and showed Captain Caveman my Christmas and birthday gifts while he showed me his cuts and bruises – he had just finished a caving expedition in Laos and I think the jungle had taken its toll on him.