Saturday the 16th of April 2016 Those departing from Auckland International met up at around 10pm to check in and say our goodbyes. I was one of the five kiwis who had to endeavor the delayed and so called eleven hour flight to Kuala Lumpur. Luckily we departed at 1am and sleep on and off for most of the ten and a half hour flight. When I first met Holly and Rachel, it was at the GYA Program 2-day conference, so I was excited to finally meet Cat, Kathy and Eden too. After the turbulent filled flight we met with the Aussies and straight after the heart warming introductions, the sports and kiwi vs Aussie Pride banter began! I have to be honest, it never really hit me that I was finally going to Vietnam but as soon as we landed in Vietnam... That all changed. It was a culture shock from the very first second. From the physical atmosphere to applying for our visas and our passport pictures displayed for the whole flight to see... It's safe to say that it was definitely different to Auckland! After collecting luggage, the group met with Caitie and Hoai who then showed us to the bus where we left the airport and watched in awe at the architecture and cultural differences Hanoi had to offer. After driving in traffic that consisted of cars, buses, pedestrians and Mopeds, we jumped out of the bus and walked the rest of the way to our beautiful hotel where we met Terry and his wife.
We then went to our rooms (I shared the BEST room with Brooke!) and had an instructional meeting and learnt key Vietnamese phrases such as hello. Then we went to walk around the national vestige Sword lake which has historical artifacts stowed within. Having walked around the lake we learnt that the 16th of April is the celebration of the first ever Vietnamese King. During the walk we also learnt how to properly cross the insanely busy streets, witnessed a car drive into the back of a moped, and changed our currencies to Vietnamese Dong. We were also fortunate enough to enter the Ngoc Son Temple, which was honestly so beautiful and smelt like burning fake money (probably because many people were burning money in respect for the dead king who modes a turtle statue).
Last was dinner; my favorite part of the day. It's fair to say that airplane food sucks so when they brought out traditional Vietnamese food, my mouth watered. Every single one of us attempted chopsticks and ate until we were bursting at the seams! It was delicious!
Overall, today has been an exhausting day. From meeting new friends to experiencing Vietnamese culture to a huge lack of sleep (I got roughly 2 ours sleep on and off from my flight from Aukland to Kuala Lumpur no sleep from KL to Hanoi)... I will definitely be sleeping well tonight.
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