Day 1 – Vietnam Airlines and Touchdown

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Two words about the Hong Kong airport:  Fancy schmancy.  It’s huge.  And quiet.  Not sure if that’s because we got there around 9:30pm. It was almost eerie how quiet it was.  

Two words about Vietnam Airlines: Super Classy.  It was like night and day compared to the Chicago/Hong Kong flight.  Where the passengers were extremely rude and loud, the passengers on Vietnam Airlines were quiet and respectful.  The same goes for the flight attendants on Vietnam Airlines.  They had a strange aura about them, you know, the kind of aura that usually only holy people like priests or nuns have.   I definitely felt like I was in a whole other world.  

Touching down at Tan Son Nhat in Saigon felt quite surreal to me.  Even the aircraft’s landing gear striking the runway didn’t feel real.  What did feel real, almost too real was going through immigration.  My Dad initially didn’t want to go on this trip because he’s extremely outspoken against the communist party in Vietnam, so he was a little paranoid he’d run into some trouble.  The immigration official was this young kid.  In regular street clothes, he would seem harmless, but something about the green hat and uniform made him seem a little threatening.  The immigration official let  me and my mom pass, after dumping the $5 we stuck in each of our passports onto a pile of other bribe money.  They told my dad to wait as they were processing everything.  There was a slight delay, enough to get my mom upset, but in the end it was just a clerical delay and we got through immigration free and clear.  

As we exited the airport, we were greeted by a mass of people waiting outside.  It’s typical for people to gather outside the airport to greet their friends and loved ones.  It’s nice.  One feels like a rockstar when one encounters a crowd like that.  I think everyone should have their own cheering section.   It does wonders for the spirit.  Against the cheering and yelling from the crowd, I saw a bunch of people pointing at us.  Could it be?  Yes, cousins I’ve never seen before (or have no recollection of).  They all came up and hugged us and seemed so happy that we were there.  Mom went to stay at my Aunt Mai’s house.  Dad and I went to stay with my Cousin Duc.  And so our long flight ends, and our month in Vietnam begins…

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