I better start my travel diary before my trip is over again.
This year the planning started early. I bought my tickets already in June – and, in fact, am fully “planned” till the end of March 2016.
Last year I did not have a chance to fly with Qatar Airways – as I was travelling via Beijing. So, this time Qatar – because they were the only ones left to serve champagne in economy. It was a big disappointment for me to learn on the flight that they only recently have removed champagne from their beverage list! Poor me! Now I have no airline left that really cares for me I shall write a complaint to their management!
It was my first stop at the new Qatar airport. A huge and modern terminal. With top world brand shops. I don’t like it! Before it used to be small and Arabic. Now it is international and meaningless. When before they had a dozen different kinds of dates for sale they now have only the boring standard Al Alwani dates that you can buy in any supermarket in Arabia…Another airport that is without identity…a pity…
Hanoi, on the other hand, embraced me immediately with the out-worldly charm I have gotten used to It started even immediately after arriving, at the visa counter, where I had ample time (about 30 minutes) to watch the 6 uniformed guys doing nothing. When, after handing over 95$ for the visa, I moved to immigration I was de-accelerated even more. There was only one lady checking the passports of all arriving foreigners. And she had a question about one of the people and wandered off, assumingly to see her superior for support. She came back after less than 15 minutes, so, no worries.
On the way into town I passed some of the impressive red billboards on which in yellow letters were some official notices. That made me feel very much at home
I am staying in the same apartment as two years ago. I had wanted to try yet another area of Hanoi but the rental deal fell through in the last minute. It is a nice building and a good location in a small street. One of the advantages is that all the people here (in the little shops and also the street vendors) still remember me And I remember the whole environment also. So, it really makes you feel at home.
Yesterday I had a stroll around the neighbourhood to see what’s new and to check if all the good stuff is still there…
Now I am all set to enjoy my Hanoi life. Before this really starts, however, we will be going on a two week holiday to Thailand the day after tomorrow. So, tomorrow I will have to pack what I will need.
We will be back on the second of October and I have hired a private teacher for Vietnamese lessons starting on the 5th. Then I also will have to pick up my motorbike.
Today it is raining as a tropical thunderstorm is brewing up. Supposedly tomorrow as well. No problem. Life moves slower here And I can utilise the idle time finding, pirating and ripping the latest Asian maps for my Garmin satnav device