Vietnam, a place I’ve always wanted to visit and I was super excited when someone sent me it as a swap for my days off. Yes, I swapped onto this flight in exchange for my days off this month as it was a new country to tick off and would give me some more flying hours this month as they were quite low as I have leave at the end of the month.
We departed from Dubai at 9 in the morning, landing around 8pm that evening into Ho Chi Minh City. We checked into the hotel and a few people had decided to go for a drink and a few others for a traditional Vietnamese massage. I wanted to join for one or the other but as I had my SEP recurrent back at training college after this flight, I thought it was best that I headed to bed with room service and to study as I wanted the full day the day after to go and explore.
The next morning for the tour we had arranged, we were told to meet in the lobby downstairs for 7:45am so it was an early rise before our 2 and a half hour drive up to the Mekong Delta. We had a couple of stops along the way. One for a toilet break and breakfast stop, which was such a beautiful little place!
After our little stop off we made our way to the first point of the tour, Chùa Vïnh Tràng, which was a Buddhist temple with three huge Buddhist statues around the temple! It had a really pretty garden area and we even managed to catch the procession of the monks from the temple to lunch which was quite interesting to watch. Although, I thought monks were silent? And I could see a few of them talking. However, I can imagine it being a bit weird sitting down for lunch and having a load of tourists stood watching over you.
After this we finally made our way to the actual river where we purchased the very important traditional bamboo hats that we had already seen many of the Vietnamese locals wearing.
We headed onto a boat that would then take us over to the other side of the river where we would be going to a honey farm where we could try some locally made honey and honey based products. For me, it was probably my least favourite part of the tour, in fact it was very stressful. I don’t know why this didn’t click to me but where does honey come from? From bees. There were bees absolutely EVERYWHERE. And when we sat down to eat and the honey was brought out, this attracted even more of them. So I was constantly on edge and flinching at every buzz and whenever one came right near me face. It was a very non relaxing experience and I couldn’t wait to just get up and move onto the next part of the tour. Although before we moved onto the trip down the Mekong we had the opportunity to have pictures taken with this huge snake for a small fee. I kindly declined and watched from the side as this really wasn’t my cup of tea at all. I’m aware I’m sounding like a wimp in today’s blog post (sorry not sorry haha).
Next we walked through the woodland area where there were lots of people selling locally made gifts at the side of the road. We stopped at a restaurant where women in traditional dress were singing vietnamese songs and we were offered a selection of different local fruits with tea!
And after this it was finally onto the part I had been looking forward to since I swapped onto the flight, riding down the Mekong river by paddle boat. As there were 11 of us on the trip plus the tour guide we were split into three seperate boats.
From here we transferred boats and we were taken to Coconut Island. I expected to be greeted with lots of fresh coconut for purchase but actually it was an island where they made different candies and foods from coconut which we were able to try. They were unexpectedly really good actually to say they looked like dollops of peanut butter on a plate. Again there was lots of different gifts and produce to purchase and I managed to purchase a really cute satin dressing gown for the equivalent of £4!
It was back onto the boat after this ready to head to a restaurant to try some traditional Vietnamese dishes! I was given what can be described as a flattened fried chicken dish in a sweet and sour sort of sauce with green beans, rice and a type of spring roll? It wasn’t the best but it was washed down with fresh coconut water which is slowly becoming my favourite thing to drink on a layover!
It was coming towards the end of the day now and we needed to make our way back to the hotel so we could sleep before the flight back to Dubai that evening. So it was back on another boat and then back to the bus for the 2 and a half hour drive.
I got into my room ordered some room service and had a 3 hour nap before I received my wake up call. It was such a wonderful layover and I definitely want to explore more of Vietnam. I will definitely be asking for Hanoi on my roster at some point!
It’s also been an exciting week for Emirates, we’ve just won Worlds Best Airline at the SkyTrax awards. Don’t want to take credit, but it’s a bit of a coincidence that this has happened since I’ve joined don’t you think? Haha. But I do feel super proud and privileged to work for the worlds best airline! Let’s hope we can make this a running streak for next year!
On another note I’ve also just finished my SEP recurrent training and I passed all my exams and practical assessments and therefore licensed to fly for another year! It was a tough and long two days back at Aviation College but so so happy it’s all done and no more college for a year!
For me now I have a turn around flight to Beirut, Lebanon tomorrow day time and then I’m on leave for two weeks! I have my Annual Leave Ticket (we get one free return ticket to our home) to use before the end of August so I’m heading home to the UK for 10 days, before I pop to India for 4 days to do some sightseeing with one of my best friends from uni which will be super exciting, so there won’t be a post for a couple of weeks except when I get my roster on the 26th!