Phillip Cabrera's Blog

March 5, 2011

Adapting to new environments

Having flown before on multiple occasions for more than 12 hours straight, I thought this trip would be nothing. Plus, it would be to a new locale – in this case, Vietnam (and a brief stop in Tokyo), but man, was I mistaken.

I’ve never been one for falling asleep while flying and this trip was no exception. I had gotten up about six hours before our flight was scheduled to leave, but I wanted to get there about three hours early to see about securing a comfortable spot for myself on the plane. Thankfully, it worked out. I had two seats to myself at the back of the flight and I have to say, it wasn’t the most comfortable flight, but I wasn’t complaining. We arrived in Tokyo with less than an hour to get through customs.

There are two words that come mind when it comes to describing Narita International Airport in Tokyo: clean and efficient. Every single person working at that airport was very friendly and welcoming. When we had to switch to our connecting flight to Hanoi, they told me and my classmate, Katie, that the tripods we brought along with us were too big to bring as a carry on. The people at the scanners walked us over to a customer support area and waited with us for well over 10 minutes while they checked in the tripods for us.

We were able to finally relax for a little over 30 minutes before boarding our next flight. I bought noodles to eat. Then I was one of the lucky ones who was able to get two seats to myself for the next flight, which was a little under six hours. By this time, I was turning into a grumpy bear because I wasn’t able to sleep. But thankfully, I was able to get about an hour of sleep on the flight.

We landed at about 10:30 p.m. in Hanoi. We were then picked up by a shuttle bus which then took us to the Sunway Hotel in Hanoi.

The hotel seemed to cater to Westerners – they had nothing but English television channels, the Internet worked really well and the prices were, of course, inflated to match American prices. Breakfast included an omlette bar, fruits, veggies and meats. The bread was excellent as well as the fruit juice. I didn’t want to get too adventurous while eating because of the precautions to not eat the produce and to not drink the water. But I was pretty sure that this hotel filtered their water because of the clientele they catered to.