Vietnam is approximately a three-hour flight from the Philippines (going to the airport from my place of residence would probably take longer due to Manila's horrendous traffic hehe!). But twenty-four hours prior to my scheduled flight, domestic emergencies and filial obligations unexpectedly came up and these nearly made me cancel my trip. Luckily though, I was able to put some things in order and assured everyone that every detail would be taken care of after my short visit to Vietnam. And so at the last minute, I was scrambling over for things to stuff in my tiny luggage. It was just for 3 days anyway (plus 2 days of air travel), I told myself. No use to get stressed over what to bring and what not to bring to Vietnam for that small amount of time. Yeah, right.
After checking-in my bags and meeting my travel buddies at the airport counter, a few more hours and we were already above the clouds on our way to Vietnam. I was able to relax a bit as my mind wandered about what to do and where to go in Vietnam. My companions and I have made arrangements for a Halong Bay day cruise on our second day. But the first and last days of our trip were left with no strict itinerary; two days of free time to roam around the streets of Hanoi to shop, eat and pretty much just look around and enjoy what remains to be seen. As Vietnam doesn't accept our local currency for trading, I brought with me a few US dollars to spend on my trip, which I've tucked securely somewhere in my bag. No worries. My dollars have got me covered for this trip. Or so I thought. But when our good pilot announced that we should get ready as we would be descending shortly, I realized that something was missing. I couldn't find my dollars! To say that I panicked was an understatement. But what do I do in Vietnam without a cent to my name? I still had some of our local currency in my purse but it's all worthless in Vietnam because they do not readily change our good ole Philippine Peso to their Vietnamese Dong. Pure dilemma. And so, without further ado, I had to explain to my travel companion that since I was penniless, she was not supposed to leave me alone under any circumstances while in Vietnam. Heh. Talk about being clingy (and an absolute pain in the a*s!). She was probably horrified at the prospect of having me follow her wherever she went and so to solve this annoying situation, she offered to lend me some of her dollars. Lucky me, and so unfortunate for her (hehe!). I know this is all too embarrassing to dwell on, so let's move on to prettier things.. let me tell you more about Vietnam as I show you around Hanoi and Halong Bay :-)