Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Arrival – 5/15/2010

Groups began to trickle through customs at the Hanoi Airport on Saturday afternoon. Hiep, our guide greeted us and entertained the first wave of travelers with stories of Hanoi. He had good information on night life, how to behave, and what to worry about. Hanoi is a very safe city. Other than purveyors of hats and other souvenirs, people rarely accost you. The biggest danger may be crossing the street. The onslaught of Vespas never stops. Hiep cautioned us to just forge ahead, looking without stopping. “You will be safe because they will find a way to go around you.” This is great advice until you try it – then you are on your own.

Hiep also gave us a brief history of the country – more on that later. He is both charming and smart, more that able to captivate a group of tired travelers. After over an hour, a few more flights arrive. We load onto an air-conditioned bus and ride an hour to our hotel.

The first night was a great reunion. Smaller groups had spent time in Honk Kong and Bangkok so there were stories to share. We were so glad to see on another that 16 of us tried to go out to dinner together, not easy when you know neither the city nor the custom. When we finally did find a restaurant with a big enough table, it took a long time to order as we argued over the exchange rate. Was the fish that just ordered $2, $20, or $200? One US dollar is about 19,000 Dong does not make any sense to those of us who cannot do math. To further complicate matters, the currency comma used in US is replaced by the decimal point. The numbers get pretty large.

Written by: Katherine Faulkner

1 comment:

EMBA Online said...

Thanks for the post. It was very interesting and I look forward to more posts in the future.