Friday, August 29, 2008

Gooooood Morning Viet Nam

As some of you know, I'll be leaving shortly for a week-long visit to Viet Nam for work. My longest international trip to date was A.'s and my honeymoon trip to Aruba, which was pretty much a disaster. Not Natalie Holloway disaster, but, yes, "Carlos 'N Charlie's" did play a role. Midway through our honeymoon, A. and I decided to venture beyond the boundaries of the Wyndham resort where we were staying. Mind you, this wasn't a tough decision, as the Wyndham had decided to undergo massive renovations without telling us in advance and also distributed beach towels that must have been washed in butt sweat. After renting snorkeling gear and a car, A. and I spend a fantastic morning of underwater sightseeing. We decided to head into Oranjestad, Aruba's capital and largest city, for lunch. For those interested, "Oranjestad" is Papiamento for "sleazy tourist trap". After a longer lunch than expected at Carlos 'N Charlie's, we returned to our rental to find our snorkeling gear and day-bag (all of which had been stuffed under seats) stolen. Most frustrating was that A. and I were working our way through the Jason Borne books that were in the day bag. I'm fairly certain that the street value of The Borne Identity isn't great and to this day wonder why the thief didn't just leave the paperbacks. To make matters worse, I endured strep throat and heat rash for much of the vacation and A. was struck with, um, GI "issues". Good times!!

Fast forward five years, and I'll again be leaving the friendly confines of the U.S. Truthfully, I'm pretty excited. Aside from the 24-hours of flight time (one-way!) it should be a great trip. Three of us at my company have worked for over a year to put together a workshop for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), which is one of the big regional multi-national organizations (sort of like the World Trade Organization). We'll be spending two days in Ha Noi running the workshop and a third meeting with folks from various Vietnamese Ministry's and science policy groups. The fourth day is all about sight seeing. We're planning on heading to the coast to visit Halong Bay (, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and looks spectacular on the Web. Then it's another 24-hour flight home.

For all of you more seasoned international travelers, I'm looking for any suggestions you may have on surviving my visit. Tips for surviving 24-hours of flights? What should I pack in my carry-on (toothbrush)? How can I ensure that my various electrical gadgets will have plugs that work in Viet Nam? Any Viet Nam-specific tips? Any and all suggestions are welcome.


  1. Get up and walk around a lot during the flight so you won't stiffen up. You will have an awesome time but it's too bad I won't see you when I come to visit A!

  2. I have absolutely no advice whatsoever. I have never been out of the country (Canada does NOT count) there isn't much I can say. I can say Vietnam conjures memories from a LONG distant childhood of the 'war on TV' and the helicopter evac of the embassy. So, there isn't much I can tell you except, don't call anyone Fish face and don't buy the tissue paper.