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We started out at a disadvantage.

Most travel guides recommend allocating at least three months to explore this region. Unfortunately, we were limited to one paltry month; not nearly enough time to fully explore everything. This meant that we had to be selective.

Instead of slowly winding our way from south to north, we had to leapfrog across the country. We made arrangements to stay in
Ho Chi Minh city for awhile, then travel to the nearby Mekong Delta. From there we would fly to Hue to see the Imperial City. Then off to Hoi An for some time at a beach resort. We would wrap up our journey with a week in Hanoi.

When it was all said and done, we had taken a total of 14 flights.
The most interesting of which were from Paris to Bangkok
(11 mind-numbing, leg crunching, deep vein thrombosis-generating hours) and from Bangkok to Paris (12 hours!!).

Lord knows I love to travel. And that I love airplanes. But at
10 + hours, you are begging for mercy. There are only so many uncomfortable naps you can force yourself into.

However, I must say that during one flight, I had one of the most exhilirating experiences of my life. On the way to Bangkok, I frequently looked at my passenger in-flight navigation display. At one point, we were flying over Afghanistan. Granted, we were some 40,000 feet above it, but what a rush. As I've read a lot about Afghanistan's sad history, it was oddly fulfilling for me to be in somewhat proximity. Yes, I was at just about the safest distance. But nonetheless, a cool feeling.

After as much research as we could muster, we were confident and ready for Vietnam. The anxiety dissipated and we were excited to get on the ground and explore.

We had made two resolutions. One was based on the prevailing exchange rate. The other was due to a recent development.

Since one US dollar was equal to 16,000 Vietnamese Dong, we resolved to get a massage every day. Do the math. This had the potential to be an amazing bargain.

Also, bird flu had recently emerged in Vietnam.

With that in mind, we had decided to eat as much chicken and pet as many wild birds as possible.

(I can't take credit for the bird flu joke. Thanks Roger.)

continue reading about Vietnam......