Most of my thoughts and efforts today were spent making sure I had everything done before I left and packing. For the first time, I am planning to take just a carryon bag, no checked bag. Last year I took the same trip but almost didn't make it on the plane because of a huge error on my part. I went to check in with Alaska and she told me I didn't have a valid passport!! I thought, that is impossible. But I had accidentally brought my expired passport. WOW!! Into a panic program I flew. I had to go back home and get my current passport. Somehow I made it. So even though I had checked several times today, I was a bit nervous until I got the boarding pass. Now, I am waiting to board my flight to Los Angeles.
My two hour flight was FULL. Alaska Airlines encouraged anyone to give their bay/carryon to them and they will transport it to LAX and you could easily pick it up at the exit door. To me, it is a no brainer. Why would you want to hassle and wrestle putting your bag in the overhead compartment when you can just have them take care of it. I guess if you have very valuable items. Me, on the other hand, just took a few things out of my carryon, and checked it. It worked slick.
Now at LAX and getting my boarding pass to Hong Kong and Hanoi. While in line, I met a Vietnamese man who is retired but is going back to Hoi An to honor his teachers. WOW!! He goes every year. I think that is Great!! I told him what I was going to do too. After getting my boarding passes, I had to go through Security. Even though I have Global Entry Pass now, it still can be stressful. First, there is a looonnnnggg line. But it moves quickly. Some how as I get near the checkin part, I can't find my boarding passes. Eek! So then I begin to look around. I spot a employee holding someone passes. He asks me to tell him my name first. haha! I guess they slipped out of my bag while is was serpentining the masses of flyers. Moving into the real inspection now, I have my hand swabbed. I ask about it and he tells me they are checking for explosives. I don't think they do that in Portland. Later, I get swabbed again. Now, I go through the actually screening and I was chosen for a random screening. That made three times. Lucky me. But finally through and now waiting for actual boarding..
My 14 hour flight was good but always grueling to endure. I find it always difficult to sit for that long even though you can sort of get up and walk about. I try to sleep but no position seems very comfortable, so it is always interrupted sleep. I did meet a Vietnamese man who lives in CA and comes back to Vietnam to organize a special Teacher Day in his home town. He also brings clothing to the needy countryside near his home town.
My last fight was only 2 hours thankfully. There were many vacant seats which seems so unusual for me these days. But in this last flight I thought about how I really like to travel. I enjoy seeing the sights and meeting lots of different people. It makes me think about how blessed I am.
After I arrived in Hanoi, I had to get my Visa On Arrival. I had my paper work all completed already so I thought it was going to be just a matter of minutes. No No!! Welcome to Vietnam! Even though they took my paperwork second, I waited and waited for them to call my name. Here is where I have to practice my patience. Finally after about 45 minutes, my name was called and I was out the door to find the hotel taxi.
The drive to the hotel took about 50 minutes. It seemed like the traffic was less than last year. Hanoi is about to open a new airport in about 47 days, plus there is a new road to the airport that will open soon. All signs of an emerging country. I did sleep after checking into the hotel and now I feel rested. Weather is great as about 70 degrees with no rain but soon I will busy volunteering. Hopefully more to come later.
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