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I forgot the world was round.
My friend Louis mentioned we were going to fly over the North Pole and I was slightly confused. I looked at my map of the world(obviously a flat map) and was wondering how in the world(LOL) we were going to go over the North Pole.
I know, this is common sense and I should have known but my being was never challenged to this (as my international flying experience only involved US to Europe for the most part). I was just imagining a straight path from NYC to Hong Kong(our layover) and voila. Anyways, let’s all agree to get over my dumb moment and enjoy the documentation of my 22 hour travel day. Here is a snapshot of us actually flying over the North Pole:
It was going to be my first time traveling as an American(I love the beautiful navy blue passport) and was so excited about having a fresh new passport to start off my new adventures. To get into Vietnam, with an American passport you do need a visa. So the Friday before I boarded my flight to Nashville, I went to get my visa at the Vietnam Consulate here in NYC. It was my first time in the United Nations area, so that was pretty cool. It took me no more than 10-20 minutes to get the Visa and the people were very nice. I also took some typhoid pills(4 pills over the course of 8 days) and picked up some diarrhea medicine(it has a more formal name I know). Thanks NYU 🙂
IVHQ, the organization we were volunteering with, prepared a really great packing list that made packing easy, breezy. Although some confusions as expected, the packing list ended up being absolutely perfect for our one week stay in Vietnam. I was very much thankful for the sunscreen and bug spray(they bit like crazy!). A couple days in, I got a little too comfortable with my application of sunscreen and got a sunburn on my hand. My whole hand ended up peeling, it.was.great. 🙂
Around 5:45PM on January 6th, 2017, I hopped in an uber with my suitcase and backpack and headed towards Kimmel, NYU’s ultimate student resource hub, where the rest of the Vietnam crew would be waiting.
We decided to get Vietnamese for dinner that night. Big S/o to Saigon Shack on MacDougal!
Around 8:00PM, we headed off to JFK for our 12:45AM flight. Our flight was to go to Hong Kong, then to Ho Chi Minh City(Saigon). There was a great deal for neck pillows (2 for $25) so my friends and I took advantage of it. I got the middle seats on the flights to Ho Chi Minh City so you could say the pillow was definitely worth it!
NYC to Hong Kong (Time ~ 15 hours)
On long flights I always take advantage of the entertainment. I watched 7 episodes of Season 1 of House of Cards before I realized I did not like the show(we can debate this later) and my favorite movie was Secret Life of Pets. Such a cute movie! Both my seat buddies were always asleep(love you Coleen and Priyanka!) so half the trip I also slept.
The Hong Kong airport was amazing. I enjoyed some Popeyes and the views. The layover was only like 3 hours, and I say only because the time passed so quickly. We had some delays in security(don’t travel with pepper spray) but we made it out with enough time to eat and chill.
Hong Kong to Ho Chi Minh City (Time ~3 hours)
Tylenol was my best friend. This may be the lead of my next blog, but let me tell you. My body does not do jet-lag well. Once I hopped on this flight, a headache came over me, and I knew it was jet-lag because I had eaten and slept. I popped the two extra strength pills and had no energy to even watch an episode of House of Cards. I slept through the 3 hours like a baby, only waking up to eat.
We’re about 30 minutes away from landing and after landing in Hong Kong I am much more excited! The flight from Hong Kong to Ho Chi Minh is slightly brutal. I came on feeling dehydrated and extremely jet-lagged so I slept, woke up with a headache, popped in some Tylenol, and went straight back to sleep. I woke up just in time to have a great conversation on culture with my friends Jason and Coleen. I had some Congee, a rice porridge with mushroom and chicken in it. Love the mushroom and chicken, hate the texture(which makes sense since I’m not a fan of soup), so I just stuck with fruits and bread.
Everything was going smoothly. Then, we stepped outside the airport, which is also the waiting area for arrivals. The city with eight to ten million people living in it and I felt like I was swarmed with all of them at once. The blazing ninety degree weather did not help either. After about five minutes of going back and forth, of which I thought felt like fifteen minutes, we finally packed on to a bus and headed to the hotel. #EstherTakesOnHoChiMinh hereeeee we go!