Sunday, September 4, 2011

In the Beginning....

           Hello, welcome to my travel blog, chances are that if you are reading this, you probably already know me and know where I am and why, but I will still give a brief overview.

Traffic in Hanoi, taken from our restaurant
            I am in a program called SYA (school year abroad) in Hanoi, Vietnam, where I am going to school with 14 other students from the US, and one from France. So far only 6 of us are going to stay for the whole year, but that number might change the closer to January we get. We also live with host families for the year, as of right now though I still haven’t met mine yet, because we are having a few days of orientation right now, but tomorrow afternoon we will be meeting them. But before we get to there we have to backtrack a few days to cover what has already happened on the trip. Lets start on august 29th, that is the day that I actually left home, because we thought it would be a lot easier on my whole family to leave a few days before I actually left just to alleviate some of the stress and sadness. So next my sister Emily, my dad, and I took a train up to Klamath Falls, Oregon, where we rented a car and drove up to Crater Lake, and after that went to checkout some of the bike rides I took in 9th grade at Santa Barbara Middle School. That night we stayed in a hotel in Ashland, OR. Where we had my final dinner in the United States for nine months. That night I was worrying about the next day, which was technically my last full day, but the flight was scheduled for 1:20 in the morning so its up to you to decide whether that should count or not. So we drove down from Ashland in the morning, listening to comedy radio on the rental car’s satellite radio, and before I knew it we were already in San Francisco. That night we met with the other students heading over, except for a few who were heading over separately. At the meeting we met with not only the other students but also with the resident director of the Vietnamese program, but also the National director and the president of SYA. After the meeting was over we headed back up to the room and got my bags ready to go, then headed downstairs and met up with the rest of the group, where we boarded shuttle buses and made our way over to SF international airport. During the bus ride I could feel myself getting more and more nervous the closer we got to the international terminal. Finally though we arrived and unloaded our bags and were on our way in. When checking in our bags I knew that my bag was going to be incredibly overweight, so we packed a duffle in just in case I had to unload some of my things from the large bag, which of course I did, I wasn’t even close either, according to the lady at the counter, it was around 40-50 pounds over their limit. Next came the hard part, having to finally say goodbye at the security line, I had already said goodbye to my sister and mom at the train station in Santa Barbara, but now I had to say goodbye to my other sister and dad. So after a sad goodbye, I made my way through the line and eventually onto the plane about an hour and a half later.

         The flight to Hong Kong took about 13 or so hours, but fortunately it was nighttime for a lot of the flight, I slept about 7 hours at the beginning of the flight and after that I watched a whole bunch of Simpsons episodes and a movie. During the flight I tried not to think to much about missing home, and tried to preoccupy myself, and for the most part it worked and I was not too sad. Another interesting tidbit to add is around halfway through the flight, somewhere off the coast of Japan, we hit this crazy patch of turbulence which was what woke my up, the plane was moving all over the place, and it was the worst turbulence I can remember, luckily for me the windows were closed and it was dark out so I couldn’t see the wings moving all over the place. When we arrived in Hong Kong, it was about 5:30 or so in the morning HK time. And after disembarking from our plane, we stood in a sweltering security line that seemed endless, and eventually made out way to some seats to wait for our next plane, which was about an hour and a half to Hanoi. This plane was a lot smaller, and didn’t have any TV’s, but I forgave them because it was a short flight. After a quick jaunt over the gulf of Tonkin we were finally here, after months of planning we had boots on the ground, and even though I miss home, I’m trilled to be here. One of the first things I noticed about Vietnam is the incredible heat, not just heat but humidity too, that makes it feel even hotter. The bus ride into the city was very interesting, there were many different things going on on the streets, I filmed a lot of it and hope to post in fairly soon. But it was really interesting to see all that was going on for the first time, because I have never been to Vietnam before. When we arrived it was about ten in the morning, and we were hungry for lunch, the place we went to served local food that was very good, and had all sorts of variety, like egg rolls, fish soup, pork, and more. After our lunch we headed to our hotel where we would be staying for the next few days. My room is pretty nice, nothing fancy, but it has air conditioning and a nice TV, but I doubt that there are any English channels. For the next few hours we took a well deserved break, and then were off to dinner, it had a very good location on top of a large building with a huge view of a very busy square, with a mixture of motorcycles, bikes, cars and pedestrians, (you can see a movie of that later). After dinner we returned to the hotel and went to bed after an exhausting day of travel. Day 1 complete!

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