by Loren Friesen: “Paul! Paul! Let’s go, we’re gonna be late! Cmon!”
Paul checks the clock. “Loren it’s freakin 2 AM.”
My middle of the night sleep talking that woke both of us up, fueled by the fear of oversleeping our 5:45 AM departure time from the hotel, didn’t constitute the ideal way to start the day.
But as it turned out no one overslept. On time, we all stepped on to the bus that weaved it’s way through Shanghai, giving us, or at least those who were awake, a final glance at China as we made our way to the airport.
Check in. Lines. Customs. Waiting. Security. Standing. Flight. Sleepy. Layover. Sitting. Flight.
We finally make it to Hanoi. The officer to approve our visas to get us through customs, though, seemed a bit rusty at doing the job efficiently. He may or may not have been waiting for some cash lubrication to help speed up the process. We didn’t oil him up, so in accordance with the rest of the day we waited AGAIN until he finished.
Our ever-smiling, energetic Vietnamese tour guide, Tony, greeted us at the airport. The bus, our final transportation of the day, took us from the outskirts of the city into the center. Slowly but surely, as we got closer to our hotel, the slowness and lull of our day came to an end as Hanoi’s inner city hectic, chaotic, every man-for-himself traffic engulfed us. We arrived at our hotel and we step off the bus. Beeping, honking, chatter. A blanket of humidity. Street food smells, motorcycles whizzing by. Welcome to Hanoi.