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Published: June 13th 2017
Metropole Hanoi Hotel
Georgeous classic hotel
Geo: 35.67, 139.77DAY TWO (1/4/13)—Dallas>Tokyo > Hanoi
"Goin' places that I've never been. Seein' things that I may never see again." –
Willie Nelson, ”On the Road Again”
About 8:30 pm CST, we cross the International Date Line, so by the time I post this, it
will be late evening, January 4.
I have never paid much attention to the actual line of the dateline – it staggers around aimlessly in this part of the world. We are well north of Honolulu and south of Siberia on the Bering Strait
when the day changes for us,
Our Dallas>Tokyo segment is 6,400+ miles. The aerial view (American's flight plan) that is broadcast on our individual seat monitors shows the Gulf of Shelekhova, the Sea of Okhotsk and a flight pattern that seems headed to Sapporo. Other “nearby” cities on the map include: Beijing, Hong Kong, Manila, Seoul and Osaka.
The flight plan also tells me we are flying at 36,000 ft. altitude, 535 mph and the outside temperature is a crisp -45 degrees. Perhaps I've stared at this screen too long. I head back to my
travel guide book and read about highlights of Laos.
Before we land, we are served a light snack. I opt for the spinach and garlic
Our Hanoi hotel room
Not the Hanoi Hilton
a salad and carrot cake as sides. Not bad. Patrick tries the Asian chicken entrée; he is disappointed because it is cold. He too gets salad and cake.
Once again we have a discussion about adjusting to the time zone. Should we take all the pills we are supposed to take now? (We have our regular vitamins and prescriptions, and we have oral
malaria prevention drugs. We also self-medicate with Pepto Bismol … a slug in the morning, a slug in the evening, helping to keep the “bugs” out of our stomachs … a trick we learned during our
Maritz and Monsanto days.) It is already mid-day in Tokyo so now seems like as good time as any.
The view from our plane as we head into Tokyo is noteworthy. The city looks pretty; the sun bouncing off the waters is awesome. Off in the distance is Mount Fuji, poking its head out among some fluffy clouds.
We land at Narita and I turn on my iPhone. A text arrives from Joe Adorjan,
telling us they are in the JAL Lounge. We head their way and meet up with the first of our six traveling companions. Their flight had a few things worth mumbling about, including
a departure two hours earlier than ours. But they have arrived safe and sound.
We serve ourselves beverages and snacks from the lounge buffet and begin to discuss what we think we should do in Hanoi tomorrow. We all take out our references notes and compare city highlights with items in the Tauck itinerary on Monday. We decide the Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem Lake and the Museum of Literature would fill the bill.
Once thing I notice about the Japanese airport and the plane to Hanoi is that the Japanese like their temperature MUCH warmer than Americans. Although it's chilly outside (30 degrees Fahrenheit), inside they keep the temperature at 80 or so. We begin peeling off layers of
clothing…perhaps conditioning ourselves for the equatorial temps we will encounter over the coming weeks.
I post my Day One blog from the JAL Lounge and we head off to board our JAL flights to Hanoi. Here we catch up with Peggy and Frank Gundlach, who flew American through Chicago. Their plane was an hour late taking off, so they were nervous about the connection. They are breathless when they arrive at our gate. They are relieved to meet up with us, and more importantly, our plane.
Our trans-Pacific flight was labeled “JAL” but had an American crew, American food,etc. Our flight to Hanoi is truly Japanese. Pretty Japanese women who smile and bow, who are dressed much fancier than their American counterparts; and food is as yummy as the days of yore. Patrick chooses the Western entrée (hamburger); I choose the Japanese entrée (white fish) but end up with the French entrée (tenderloin) because of the popularity of the fish selection among our fellow business class travelers.
The plane, as I mentioned, is warm. There are no movies or entertainment, so I listened to a little of my audio book, Bill Knoedelseder's “Bitter Brew” about Anheuser-Busch, and open my laptop to continue my blog ramblings.
Did I mention that Tauck was pretty adamant about our luggage restrictions? One checked bag per person, weighing no more than 44 pounds. One carry-on bag each, weighing no more than 15 pounds. That was really a challenge for me. Luckily Patrick “lent” me 15 of his available
pounds. Even so, some items that thought they were headed to Indochina are, in fact, not. Get over it.
In addition to my laptop, my iPhone, his iPad, there are numerous other pieces of electronic equipment. Two cameras (my new red Nikon P510 with 42X zoom, my older Olympus with 26X zoom, brought along as a back-up, just in case something were to go wrong.) I have electric curlers, battery chargers, curling iron, hair dryer, converters/adaptors. My carry-on briefcase is a maze of wires and cables.
I have some of my other favorite things to pack:
Electrical tape for repairs
Collapsible cane, just in case
Water bottle, to control temperature at night, service as a head rest or rump rest (came in handy on the Serengeti)
Flat sink stopper for soaking clothes overnight in
…these and other items are suggestions from fellow travelers on previous tours we've taken
Then of course we had to pack for Hanoi, in North Vietnam and in the mountains … high around 60. And for Phnom Penh, right on the equator, and high of 93? So there are light weight items and add-on layers. Shoes, hat, raincoat, umbrella. Daytime clothes and evening clothes, although we all opted for the casual side. The men made a group decision to leave their sports coats at home.
From my Maritz days (I worked for a large privately held company in St. Louis called Maritz; one of its major divisions was Maritz Travel, which traveled hundreds of thousands of people
every year), I always have a basic packing list that I store electronically. I add to and subtract
from the basic list. It has served me well. The only thing I have forgotten so far is the travel charger for my laptop that plugs in under the seat of our airplane seats. I did bring the one for our phones and Patrick's iPad. We'll live.
And speaking of phones, I called AT&T ahead of time and acquired a one-month international travel plan for January for $100:
1. 300MB of data @$60
2. 50 Global text messages @$10
3. 15 minutes of phone for $30
4. All five countries (including Japan) have voice and data service
Before we board our flight to Hanoi, we discuss the desirability of staying awake
until our heads hit the pillow in Hanoi, so that we can adapt to the time change more readily. I look around our cabin and find I am the only one to stick to the plan ;-).
A Tauck representative meets us at Hanoi's Noi Bai International Airport and arranges transfer to our historic landmark hotel : Sofitel Legend Metropole. Peggy Gundlach's luggage, unfortunately, does not make the tight connection in Tokyo so she has to file a baggage claim.
The hotel is in downtown Hanoi, 40 minutes from the airport. We drive past many interesting sights,including the wholesale flower market which is busy, busy, busy at 12:30 am and will remain so until dawn. An Asian version of “My Fair Lady”.
At the hotel, which is classic and gorgeous, we meet up with our final traveling companions, David and Cheryl Morley. We are a complete group. We agree to meet for breakfast and decide what Hanoi sights or day trips we will tackle in the two days before our official tour begins at 6 pm Sunday.
This is exciting.
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