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Published: June 25th 2017
Geo: 10.7592, 106.662
YES, YES, YES, YES (for the movie buffs....l bet you want what she's having.) Today is THE day.
After counting down for 150 days, our seed of an idea is real. It really is only a hop skip and a jump to Vietnam and after careful co-ordination all roads from Sydney and Brisbane converged on Singapore for the final leg of the journey.
The alarm stirred us to action at 4 am - this after a midnight finish just tidying up the last details of the trip and the last vestiges of work commitments. Michael arrived early and sorted out the Tetris blocks of luggage and battled the bumper to bumper freeway traffic. Despite hobbling with a broken toe he did look after us very well and delivered us in plenty of time.
It was a nervous wait at checkin according to our estimates, the luggage pile was touching the limits. Even more nerve wracking because people ahead of us were being asked to repackage their case because single items were over the 30 kgs and every passenger had to submit their hand luggage for weigh in as well. We were using our jury screening skills to suss out the
staff in an attempt to get the "sensitive" one - we definitely didn't want the "mature" gentleman and as luck would have it we jagged the warm and friendly lady who had aspirations of working in an orphanage. Our overweight luggage was shovelled on through. Grateful.
Brisbane airport on a Thursday morning was humming. Long queues at checkin, crowded through security and customs. So to be honest, by the time we popped out at the end of the snaking queues, filled in the TRS form and visited the loo, our flight was actually being called.
Do love Singapore airlines. Great organisation, plenty of room, helpful staff and a superb range of inflight entertainment - I cried myself through two movies and Mac blasted his way through multiple action flicks! The food was fantastic - nice flavours that included ginger and generous chilli (for Mac). And the combos of wine, water, tea and coffee, all topped off with the virgin run at the Singapore Sling wasn't bad either!
What a pleasant surprise. Waiting for us in the arrival lounge of Changi International were two familiar faces. The Syneysiders had arrived an hour earlier and scoped out the airport. And what an airport it
is. Could spend days exploring and probably weeks shopping but we opted for the walking tour oohing and aaahing at the flowers, in interactive displays, the carpets and lounges while savouring the rich smell of the international cuisines and in homage to JPC dodged a few (speeding) buggies and found a Sanctuary.
And, for some unknown reason, the Vietnam Venturers had qualified for a freebie voucher in Singapore to make our "transit" easier. We were only in the airport for a couple of hours waiting for the connecting flight and we decided to give it a miss - think that half the population of China was in the queue ahead of us. Opted for a coffee instead.
Let me formally introduce you to the other team members of the Vietnam Venturers. Loraine and Richard (now collectively and conveniently referred to as LO_RI) are set on making 2017 the year of travel. This little Vietnam/Cambodia adventure is sandwiched between a trip earlier in the year with family and an up and coming Alaskan adventure with more of the volleyball crew (Maria and Bob) in August.
The flight from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh was over in a heartbeat. Hardly seemed to be time to
be in the air and eat. Definitely didn't have time to put the headsets on and chill out with a movie. It was over before we knew it.
LO_RI were visa enabled and zipped through customs and security but we were left languishing for over an hour in the 'in transit' visa lounge. We were there for so long we actually had time to make friends and ended up engaged in a bingo like revellers when anyone's visas was approved. It was bad enough when we thought we were holding up "just" LO_RI but it turned out that there were OTHER travellers on the APT pickup roster. They were holed up outside the airport with some cold Tiger Beers! Could do no more than apologise and take the back seat in the bus.
Tour guide Dong got us organised for the next few days and delivered us safely to the expansive and impressive foyer of the Sheraton. Stunning. Spectacular. Simply beautiful. And with rooms on the 12th floor overlooking the bustle and chaos of downtown Saigon we are home for four days.
Couldn't let the night slip away that easily so took up residence in the ground floor lounge and chilled out to
the dulcet tones of the Vietnamese Moderno Jazz band while sipping on champagne, mojitos and Singapore beer.
Tour arrangements are made for tomorrow. We've done a reccie -run for brekkie.
Of course, with a three hour time difference and just four hours sleep last night, do need to draw the curtains on this one. Snuggled up in bed in the Sheraton in Ho Chi Minh City ready to let the good times roll.
Temperature: Ho Chi Minh, fine and 34
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