We landed in HK around 5:30pm local time and wow what a view. It’s just how it looks in the pictures, of course, with all of the skyscrapers and the mountains surrounding the city. Just beautiful, even though it’s a pretty gray day. We all made it off of the plane pretty quickly and there was a guy standing just outside the gate passing out information about where to get any of the connecting flights, plus pointing us in the right direction. I headed to the gate and passed through security yet again, then up the escalator into the terminal. It was pretty empty and I found my gate without an issue. My flight leaves at 7:55, so I decided to explore the airport, but I was pretty scared of getting lost or losing track of time. I had no idea what time it was, so I headed down into the area with all of the shops and quickly found a watch store….filled with watches all displaying different times!! I finally found a clock on the wall and decided that I would just exchange $5 for Hong Kong dollars just to have fun and buy some water and candy. Oh boy, $5=35 HK dollars! Wow I was feeling rich until I say that water was $9 and pretty much my money would buy me 2 waters and 2 things of candy. Oh well. So I walked around the duty free shop and actually contemplated buying a watch, but they were all expensive. So I went to the restroom and tried to get as clean as possible after sitting in those silly planes for nearly 20 hours…then I found some internet and checked email and stuff. I sat by the gate and at 7:30 we started to board and, guess what, more security! Scary Vietnamese police-types who took my water and then opened all my bags to look inside. Ugh, wtf. So on the plane, I had the same seat, but smelly Chinese lady was gone. She was replaced by young Vietnamese college student. We got to talking and I asked her about the city and what her favorite places to eat were. They served us some noodle stuff and soda and before I knew it we were landing!
The city was nice coming in, just as I pictured it really, with not many tall buildings and pretty spread out. I got off the plane and the airport looked like it had been evacuated. I remembered reading about how everyone was meant to wait outside, so I wasn’t really that shocked. I kept looking for Dave though, thinking that if someone could outsmart the security, it would be him. I walked with my new friend, with whom I was so close that I didn’t even catch her name, towards emigration (or is it immigration?). I saw Dave pretty much immediately – he was the tall non-Asian. I waited in line to get my first stamp and pretty quickly was on the other side! Yes! I’m so shocked that everything went smoothly, must have been that flight karma that I recently acquired. On to the baggage claim, I warned dave about the horrible suitcase that he would be carrying because, well, i can’t. My friend found out how much the taxi would probably cost and we were off. After picking up that monstrosity, we headed out to the taxi area and were met by a guy who took us to the hotel. I couldn’t believe I was actually in Asia! Driving through the streets was pure chaos – horns honked incessantly, no regard to which side of the road you were driving on, what color the lights were, etc. I think my jaw was on the floor the entire time. Finally we got to the address and found our way down the shady looking ally to the hotel. It was actually pretty nice, but I felt bad that Dave had to carry the body, I mean case of books, up 2 flights of stairs. Inside, the AC was on, which was great because WOW is Saigon hot. After cooling off, we left to find some place to eat and get some cash. We walked down the streets and pretty much Saigon was exactly how I pictured it. Crazy drivers, sidewalk stalls, crammed store-fronts, very loud, and quite a bit of poverty which was quite terrible to see. I’ve just been fortunate enough to fly literally across the world and here are people sleeping on the steps in large groups. It’s in every city in the world, but at least America is clean and we have some type of help for them in the form of shelter and soup kitchens. I’m under the impression that these people get nothing. But, I digress, we found an atm and Dave took out 1 million dong! Insane really, I’ll be doing that tomorrow. It’s really only like $70 We found a cafe type place that was still open and had some loud white people at one of the outside tables, so we chose that place and had spring rolls, white rice, and this garlic beef thing. Stage 1 of meat mentoring: actually it was pretty good! I think the garlic helped things quite a bit. After the meal, back to the Red Sun hotel for showers and sleeping. By around 1:30am, I think Dave was like, ok chan, bed time, here’s a lunesta. Goodnight Vietnam!
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