Sunday, September 30, 2012

Why Did The Tourist Cross The Road?

H@noi Traffic
Okay, so Slater has located a place to buy VN currency here in Texas.  It's become one of my travel rules.  Have local currency in your pocket when you hit the ground, in case the local ATMs are down.  This happened to me on my very first trip to Europe.  All the ATMs in my terminal at the CDG airport in Paris were down and I needed bus fare to get into the city.  I had to go to find my way to other terminals to find a working ATM.

So now, I try to have some in pocket.  I had to scramble to get Turkish Lira, but it sure made it easier when landing.  Just a little bit of security in what can be an overwhelming experience.  I read somewhere and I agree that the first 24 hours sets the tone for the trip.  My brilliant boss always advises to take one of those hop-on-hop-off bus tours first thing upon arriving in a new city.  His theory is that one is jet-lagged and can do as much or as little as possible but the big bonus is just to get the "lay of the land", as it were.  Between that and studying maps, that's a pretty great strategy and let's one ease into the foreignness of the country.

One of my great loves is taking public transportation from the airports into the new city.  I remember dragging Bick onto the upper deck of a double-decker when were landed in Dublin.  He wanted to take a cab, but I insisted on the bus.  We had the whole top floor (it wasn't open-air) to ourselves.  Those top floors really sway when going too fast through a round-about!  Anyway, that led to one of my favorite memories/stories about that trip.  I didn't know EXACTLY where we were going, but close enough, I thought.  I got us off the bus a bit too soon but I didn't know which way to go on the street, so Bick went into a 7-eleven type store to get us a cup of coffee and ask for directions, while I waited outside with our bags.  He was gone for like forever.  When he finally came out of the store, he was grinning and I asked him what had taken so long.  He said he went up to the Irish cashier who spoke English and asked him the question and couldn't understand a word he said.  He then turned to the Asian woman who spoke English as a second language and asked her the question, and he could understand her!

Pebbles and I agreed that we would take the train into the city from Istanbul and we managed that okay.  We didn't have the option of doing a double-decker bus tour, so we just plunged right in.  Right into the The Grand Bazaar where I quickly learned that my daughter doesn't like crowds.  We would have been better served had we just walked around a little bit, just getting a little bit of feel for the city rather than heading right  there.  It was my fault, as that was the first thing I wanted to see and it was at it's absolute busiest - a bright, sunny, Saturday morning.  That experience really put her off of Istanbul and it took her a couple of days to warm back up to it.

All of which brings us to our first stop in H@noi.  We've tried to put together what we've learned about first days and jet lag.  We land at about 8:30 at night and I've arranged for a driver from our hotel to come to the airport to pick us up.  Taxis are notorious for duping visitors in H@noi.  So assuming that plan goes right and we get to our hotel, the next morning after breakfast, we are picked up at our hotel and driven by private car out to the bay  .  When I created our preliminary itinerary, I had this excursion as our last during our north stay.  Pebbles felt like it should be first - we would have someone drive us through the city in the daylight, we wouldn't have to try to find our way to another pick-up point and since we are going to be on a boat for one night and two days, we could better adjust to jet-lag.

One of the things that I wanted was to hire this group upon our return to the city with the primary goal of having them help us learn to cross the street.  Seriously.  Learn to safely cross the street.  And they aren't available the day I need them.  So either we will venture out alone or we will only make right turns and spend our first morning back in the city stuck on the same block!

12 Days Until Departure......




Take good care of yourself.  Be kind to others.  Help an old lady cross the street.



  1. Oh My Gee, for sure!! So excited about your trip! Great tip about the money. My son said it takes some time getting it exchanged which eats up your time.

    I know you all are going to have a great time.

  2. 12 Days? 12 Days! Jumping up and down - I'm so excited for you!

  3. I had no idea that you'd traveled that much. The next time I go out of the country, I'm taking you with me. You're a seasoned PRO!

  4. Happy Travels Roxie,
    One word about pedestrian traffic. Weave through scooter traffic with confidence. I know it sounds crazy but it works. DO NOT stop suddenly and freeze in the middle of the street, march in place if you have to at first,then continue moving. Those darn scooters know how to avoid a moving figure but crash right into a frozen one.


We'll try this for a while.