Saturday, December 5, 2015

Vietnam (21-26 November 2015)

Pat and I have returned from a short trip to Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City and the island of Phu Quoc). The main part of the trip was arranged by Eco Adventures here in Singapore. They arranged our flights on Vietnam Airlines and the hotels we stayed in. We arranged our own tours using Viator.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Our flight left Changi Airport at 1:15 PM for the 2 hour flight into Ho Chi Minh City, or the name most residents call it - Sai Gon. (It's interesting that most signs spell it as 2 words, while I remember it from the news as a single word). We are flying into Ton Son Nhat International Airport, which was known as Ton Son Nhut Air Base during the war. We are heading into the country that dominated the news while Ray was in college, Pat was in HS, and for a number of years after. A place many of our friends served in (some did not return). We both had strong feelings about our visit. Hard to put some memories, photos, and news reports out of our minds.

Visa Letter
In order to get into Vietnam, we needed to carry with us a letter from the Vietnam Immigration Department, which cost us $10/each before even getting our airline reservations. Having that document allowed us to pay $45/each to get the visa once we got to immigration in Saigon. However, we missed the window for picking up our visas and, instead, went directly to the immigration line. After waiting for quite some time, and presenting a copy of the letter, we were informed we needed to go to another window to get the visa. Once we got to the visa window, we found out we were missing passport photos. For another $5/each, we had our pictures taken, waited another 20 minutes and finally got our visa. Ah, the joys of traveling!

We were greeted at the airport by a guide and driver, who took us to the Golden Central Hotel. It is nice not having to figure out how to get to the hotel and have someone waiting with our names on a sign. The hotel was nice and the location was good.

Sai Gon

View from our hotel room on a not-to-busy traffic day.