Friday, March 6, 2009

We're Here!

When we get to Hue tomorrow, I'll try to post about the trip here; I've been working on a post (with photos) along the way. It was a long but good trip. All the flights were on time, and I have a new airline to recommend highly. Already there are some good stories.

First impressions after only 90 minutes on the ground. The airport was a contradiction. From the runway side, it looked like something out of the 1960s, an impression helped more than a bit by the empty Quonset huts lining the runway and a crumbling wall emblazoned with a peace sign. At the same time, we landed in an Qatar Airway airbus 330, followed by a Lufthansa 747, and another 747 of a third airline. Fortunately, our plane's passengers were first to immigration, baggage claim, and customs.

Okay, I'll admit that it was something of a thrill to see a driver holding up a sign with out names on it. I'm not 100 percent sure, but I might be able to get used to that. We were underway to the hotel about a half hour after we landed. The driver said that at midnight he could make it from the airport to our hotel in 10 minutes but at other times it might take an hour. I can see now why none of the guidebooks recommended renting a car here. There were almost no private cars on the streets; most were commercial vehicles or taxis. And the number of little motorbikes? If you've been to Italy and seen the motorbikes on the streets of Rome, well, that doesn't even come close. And despite the almost total absence of traffic lights or stop signs, traffic flowed. There was honking and stopping and starting, but it flowed. The driver said one reason was a lack of bullying on the part of drivers. He explained that in the event of a traffic infraction, he would have to give the policeman his document folder, which would be returned to him with a smile but without the 15 US dollars folded into the paperwork.

Yeah, it's a different place, but there's wireless, and there's bottled water in the fridge. I don't think we need dinner having been fed quite well by Qatar Airways. I'm going to send e-mails now so folks know we got here and can look for something on this blog.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Marching Along

Random thoughts and gratitudes as we enter a new and unexpectedly snowy month ...

I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that 48 hours from now I will be sitting at Dulles Airport waiting to board a British Airways jet bound for London on what passes here for a great adventure. I am so lucky to be able to do this, to have a husband whose job makes it possible. I am also so lucky to have two kids whose schedules allow them to come along. This could well be the last real family vacation we take as parents and kids, so I guess I had better enjoy it.

The temperature tonight could set a new low for this date. I will leave on Wednesday wearing a sweater underneath my denim jacket. Once I enter the terminal at Dulles, the next time I step outdoors may be into the tropical temperatures of Ho Chi Minh City. The temperature shock may exceed the culture shock. Five weeks later, we will leave the tropics, re-emerging in Northern Europe. Shopping will be necessary, as I do not plan to take heavier clothes than the jeans, sweater, and denim jacket I will leave here wearing.

I finished up my current project at work just in time to be away for two months. I am so spoiled with the job I have. Part-time with very flexible hours, done mostly from home. A few regular projects that I do each year, and others that I do because they arise and threaten to swamp the full-timers in the office. It's just an added bonus that these extra projects usually come with a "Do you have time for this now?" or an "Are you interested in this?" attached.

In packing for the great adventure, I decided to step outside my usual comfort zone a bit. Those who know me well may be shocked to read that I am taking nothing to do involving fiber with me. No knitting, no needlework, no hand-piecing. I plan to challenge myself creatively with photography, drawing, and writing. Here in my natural habitat, I often find myself thinking that I should try to get back into photography or try to do some drawing or try to work more on my writing beyond the outlet offered by doing National Novel Writing Month every now and again. The trip offers me the chance to do that by removing myself from the temptations of fiber. This is not to say that I will return without having acquired any silk, merely that I won't be working with it while on the trip.

Finally, thanks to Pinky the amazing Acer netbook, I can write as we travel, so perhaps I will land in Ho Chi Minh City with something ready to post to the Hue blog. We shall see. One cannot plan too much on an adventure without risking removing some of what makes it adventurous.