Day 1 Melbourne to Ha Long Bay 25th March 2004

We left Melbourne airport at around 11:15. Liam's face as the plane took off was full of wonder. The flight was uneventful, and Vietnam Airlines were pretty well no frills but comfortable enough.

We met some lovely Vietnamese people on the plane. One lady I spoke too had left Vietnam 20 years ago during the war and had walked from Vietnam through Cambodia, and then had caught a bus to Thailand were she had then gone as a refugee to New Zealand. It was her first trip back to Vietnam. We landed in Saigon at around 4:00PM. (4 hours behind Australia). It was very humid, and the airport was quite old. There were many concrete bunkers and arched concrete hangers. It looked very much like it was straight from a World War 2 movie.

We had to check in and go through customs for our flight onto Hanoi, which was a reasonably straightforward process, with us given stickers to place on our chests so that we were ushered by staff from one counter to another.

We arrived in Hanoi around 8PM to a very clean and modern airport. I believe it was built for the South East Asian Games. It was too dark to see anything on the 40 minute bus trip from the airport to our hotel apart from the occasional glimpse of passing traffic or poorly lit houses. We arrived at the ATS Hotel quite late. Our room was very nice and thankfully with Air Con. Liam was so tired he even slept through the landing at Hanoi Airport!!