Early start today, after Carol brought us up to Sydney Airport Ridges last night – Thanks Carol. The hotel was a strenuous 50m walk from the International Departures at the airport, so we were there bright and early – around 5am. We were checked in quite quickly and equally quickly through emigration and security. As always I was stopped for an explosives swab, while dad had the full x-ray treatment. We both passed.
The plane was delayed getting away from Sydney by about an hour. It seems somebody forgot to get the plane out of the garage, but once underway the speedy pilot caught up the lost time. Several meals and a few movies later we were in Hong Kong – with no riots at the airport thankfully. We jumped on to Wi-Fi to check the AFL grand final score (GWS annihilated by Richmond) then headed across the tarmac by shuttle bus to Gate 509 to wait for our Hanoi flight. In Hanoi we picked up our pre-organised visa and were quickly out of the airport. Let the fun begin. We found the bloke with his ‘Intrepid Travel – Kevin Hunter’ sign, who promptly disappeared, presumably to get his car? A few minutes later a car arrived, we were ushered in and away we went. Leaving the car park, the guide wanted payment for the car park, but at this stage we had no Vietnamese Dong. No problem – they took us to an ATM where I withdrew 1,000,000 Dong with the smallest notes dispensed being VD500,000 – a bit difficult for the driver to change. A few minutes later the guide had a phone call. His customer was still waiting at the airport. He asked us if we were Mr [insert random Asian name here]. No! We had managed to get in the wrong car. A minute later we were back at the airport searching for our driver. Eventually all was solved and we were on our way – through chaotic, horns blaring traffic. We never did pay that car park fee. Whole families on mopeds, cars weaving this way and that, lane markings mere suggestions and traffic lights apparently semi-optional to obey. Somehow we made it safely to our hotel, the Hong Ngoc Cochinchine, check in and up to our room to get organised. A 21 hour day. Time for bed.