This is a series of experiences and emotions narrated by Rochelle Porper from Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Follow her footsteps and you will find great experiences of a life time Vietnam trip.
I finally made it – and what an odyssey it was getting here. First of all, I must express my appreciation to my sister Andrea and my good friend Jeffrey. Were it not for their kindness and generosity in sharing their prescription sleeping aids, I am sure I would be in worse shape than I am. That was an act of kindness that I will long remember.
So, the trip over basically sucked. We were late leaving Boston which was Ok because it made the layover in LA more tolerable. If you have never been to the International Terminal in LA, it is indeed an adventure in and of itself. It must literally be the gateway to Asia. It was over-run with thousands of very petite people who shared nothing in common with me. What surprised me was the number of large families traveling with several children, and the unbelievable amount of luggage attached to them. I guess I hadn’t considered that so many people would be shipping so much stuff to their homeland. Getting my bag checked turned out to be impossible because the lines were so long, and I was slightly disoriented due to lack of sleep. ha – little did I know that was the best it was going to get for awhile.
We finally boarded the plane for Taipei at 4 am EST, and I believe that was the last opportunity in which I had a firm grasp on time, and time zones, until just recently. All I know is that the flight was effing long and never seemed to end. Things improved slightly when I finally popped an Ambien, which didn’t exactly put me to sleep but more sent me into a fugue state that was interrupted at regular intervals for feeding time. I can only assume it was food because it appeared on plastic trays but it bore no resemblance to anything I ever ate before. And I wisely did not inquire.
For example, a particular food item looked exactly like an oversized canned mushroom – it was the same grey green color that canned mushrooms have. I thought it was an odd shape though, but maybe they grow them big in Asia? And since it was accompanied by what looked like noodles, I thought “ah ha – must be lunch or dinner.” Well, it was an egg. Personally, the only eggs I have ever seen that even remotely resemble this one are ones from a Seder plate, but no one ever eats them. I concluded then that it must be breakfast time, even though my watch said it was 3. Could have been am or pm – it was anybody’s guess.
Finally, after several bad movies (each of which was preceded by the same commercial in Chinese for a discount hotel club showing a young couple horsing around on a hotel bed to the song “Everyone was Kung Foo fighting” with the tag line in English “We are very competitive in bed”), we arrived in Taiwan, and then 4 hours later, Saigon. All in all, the trip lasted about as long as I was in labor – about 36 hours. And about as painful (but hopefully – just as worth it!).
The first challenges
I am now at the swanky Metropole Hotel, about to venture out on my own into town. The trip here from the hotel was startling – the streets are over run with hundreds of mopeds that zip in and out of traffic with no warning and clearly no respect for travel etiquette. It seemed pretty dangerous to me – and the people are stacked on top of these mopeds in very precarious positions. I will stick to traveling the old fashion way – on my feet.
Anyway – I will admit that my head is kind of reeling from all of this and I am kind of dizzy. I am sure my brain/body has no clue what has just happened to it, but I am hoping a few Vietnamese beers will soften the edges. The rest of the group, including my traveling partner Sam, arrives tomorrow night.
Ok so this was rather long winded. Some of you will never make it through this email but those of you who do – thank you for listening. While I am really excited to be here, it is also overwhelming. That will pass though, I am sure. And I have already suffered my first extreme disappointment – there is virtually no chocolate in Vietnam. I have never in my adult life gone for almost 3 weeks with no chocolate. It will be God’s test.
Email me back if you can – it would be nice to hear from a friendly voice!
Love and kisses
by Rochelle Porper from Boston, Massachusetts, USA
For the next experiences of Rochelle Porper on this trip, you can follow the next steps of hers:
- Days of Saigon streets and Mekong boat trip – Porper story #2
- Vietnam war confronting – Porper story #3
- A massage adventure in Saigon – Porper story #4
- First hit to highland Vietnam tour – Porper story #5
- Vietnam rain forest and hills of plantations – Porper story #6
- Kontum, tomb houses and tribal villages – Porper story #7
- On the way to hoi an ancient town – Porper story #8
- Hoian farming day – Porper story #9
- Another day in paradise – Porper story #10
- On the way to hue – Porper story #11
- Hello from Hue – Porper story #12
- Surprise in Phong Nha cave trip – Porper story #13
- Ninh Binh and Ho Chi Minh hometown – Proper story #14
- Halong Bay cruise and legends – Porper story #15
- Hanoi hot but impressive – Porper story #16