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  • Writer's picturekevintarca

Finally arrived … by the Grace of God

On my way to the airport yesterday morning I started to wonder what my first blog post would be about. I soon found out no more than thirty seconds later when walking into the United terminal at Newark Airport. Most people that know me know that I am very organized… almost too organized.

Anything and everything that I could have possibly needed for the trip was planned out weeks in advance. So as I’m printing out my boarding pass, an attendant comes over and asks for my letter. I responded with a prompt, ‘Dear God, what letter?’ Let’s back up a few weeks when all the passport/visa research was done. I knew that I wouldnt be longer than a few weeks in each country, and each country I visit I would be able to get a visa when entering. Well apparently Vietnam requires an acceptance letter of this visa… PRIOR to boarding the plane!

So. After nearly soiling my pants, I was quickly onto the next play. By the grace of God the attendant that came over was an angel. She told me to go with her and we ran up to the corporate offices where I quickly started googling what my move was going to be. I found a third party organization that rush orders these letters and I immediately ordered it. After realizing how much time I had before my flight and the fact that it was already nearly 10pm in Vietnam, I gave myself less than a one percent chance of making my flight. Not even ten mins later I got a call from an unkown number and I tried to make out what the man on the other end was saying. Somehow I heard ‘check your email’ and that is when the first miracle of the trip happened.

After a grueling 16 hours in the air, I finally landed in Tokyo, Japan. What was supposed to be a three hour layover then turned into a last minute sprint to the terminal to make my next flight. Apparently Vietnam customs doesn’t accept pdf or email forms of visa acceptance letters so those few hours consisted of me trying to find a printer in the middle of chaos in the Tokyo airport. I’ve played the game charades before… but I guess you don’t realize your true skill level of acting something out until you do so in front of a crowd that only speaks Japanese.

I happened to get approached by another very kind attendant, who spoke just enough english to know what I was asking. Long story short and several computers and emails later, the letter got printed. As I looked out the window before I took off I noticed a rainbow over the trees. I then realized that after the charades and printer situation, miracle #2 took place in Tokyo.

The flight from Tokyo to Ho Chi Minh City was about 5 and a half hours. As always when flying, people get anxious when waiting to see who will be sitting in the seat next to you. Luckily for me, along comes Houng. Houng was in her early sixties and she has lived in Vietnam for about forty years. Her english was a little broken, yet impressive and good enough to hold conversations. I was shown the true friendliness of Houng when our food came out. She was kind enough to give me an entire breakdown of everything on the plate. Before I knew it, she reached over and poured one of the packets all over my noodles while smiling and saying “spicy! so nice for you, spicy!”… I then learned to enjoy wasabi flavored seaweed in my noodles, whether I truly liked it or not. When she noticed that I did enjoy it, she proceeded to dump the rest of hers onto my plate. Slightly aggressive move, but I appreciated the gesture since it made her happy. She told me I would make very good friends with her 28 year old daughter. Despite the temptation I went with the original plan and caught a taxi ride from the airport to my first hostel. The ride cost me 150,000 Vietnamese Dong. Yes that’s the currency, Dong. I guarantee 85% of the people reading this just giggled to themselves. What can I say- I have mature friends.

Its past 2am here now so I’m gonna grab a quick nap before exploring the city!

By the way, I couldn’t not take a selfie with my new friend Huong.



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