Our group tour departed Australia today from both Brisbane and Melbourne for a 24 day journey around Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Included in our tour is a 7 day cruise up the Mekong River towards Siem Reap in Cambodia, and we wish you were all with us. Imagine 550 friends doing the one trip. But then, what’s another 550 people in a country like Vietnam with around 14 million living in the one city of Saigon. We would ‘get lost’ together in no time. And just imagine finding 550 vesper motor bikes, and drivers, to take us on a personalised tour of the ‘traffic congested intersections’ of this very busy metropolis. Outside our room right now are 500 vespers in the one parking lot, so we can take our pick.
We definitely have a ‘class’ problem in this group. 70% of the group are travelling ‘business class, and the other 30% are in the ‘cattle class up the back’ of the aircraft. But hey, one of the group in business class travels in thongs and shorts – I’m not sure you could put him in ‘business class’ but at least he pays the fare. A new member of the business class elite, had a couple of drinks before push-back at Tullamarine Airport and then fell off to sleep to be woken up for breakfast just before the Singapore arrival – fancy missing out on all that personalised service? However, her decision is to do the ‘business class thing’ from now on.
Our flight arrived into Singapore at 5:20am and with 4 hours to kill, there was a bit of sitting around waiting for the onward sector to Saigon. Singapore Changi Airport is a great place to do this and the orchids were so good to see again. With a little train trip around to Terminal 2, we found our departure lounge, with a few loo and ‘bottle of water’ stops along the way. That’s where we met up with John and Claire, first-time travellers to our group. Welcome John and Claire! They had travelled up from Melbourne two days ago to acclimatise themselves to the tropical weather before moving on to Vietnam.
After settling into The Park Hyatt, Saigon, we ventured out to ‘see the streets’. Having been told, there are so many bikes and cars on the streets during peak time, we were a bit dubious to cross too many roads. (Even though they are courteous drivers, soiled underwear at the beginning of a trip is not a happy thought.) We found a cafe that had an upstairs seating area to view the moves and near death experiences of the drivers down below. Take a look.
Our evening is a dinner together to get to know the newcomers and renew friendships with those that have joined us again.
And yes, there has been a ‘Seniors Moment’ already. I like to start things off in this category. We disembarked the aircraft in Singapore and half an hour later, I realised I had left my ‘man-bag’ hanging on the hook on the seat in front of where I had been sitting. 30 minutes later, all was well and the bag with iPad (not the sort I had on my eye at the beginning of July) was in my hand. I guess I will be reminded many times in the next 24 days when getting on and off different modes of transport.