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Coal
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Vietnam Airlines: Saigon-Hue-Hanoi (Pics)

Wed Oct 10, 2007 2:35 pm

This is Part II of a two part report. Part I covers the trip from Singapore to Vietnam and back on TR and SQ and can be found if you click on the following link:
To Vietnam On A Tiger & The Singapore Girl (Pics) (by Coal Oct 9 2007 in Trip Reports)

Part II covers the flights me and my family took in Vietnam to go from Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC, formerly known as Saigon) in the South to Hue, which is in central Vietnam, and then to Hanoi, in the northern part of the country.

But first, some pics of HCMC:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC_0027.jpg
Reunification palace

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC_0076.jpg
Looking towards the People's Committee

After just over half a day in HCMC, we woke up bright and early to catch our 7AM flight to Hue, in central Vietnam. It was still dark when we reached the domestic terminal, but the city's hustle and bustle was just about to start.

Airline: Vietnam Airlines
Flight: VN 244
Sector: SGN-HUI
Dep: 7:00AM
Arr: 8:20AM

After paying the taxi fare, we headed straight to the VN check in counters. The domestic terminal is much older than the brand new international terminal, and here and there there are vestiges of what an airport should look like in a country under communist (oops, socialist) rule.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01033.jpg
SGN Domestic terminal departure area

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01035.jpg
VN Check in desks


Old school scale to weigh carry on luggage

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01037.jpg
SGN Domestic check in area

After checking in we went directly past security and towards the gate, as there were no shops or anything really entertaining in the check in area. Security was a breeze and we even managed to sneak a few bottles with liquids in excess of 100ml.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01038.jpg
Very old luggage carousel past security

The airport had quite a weird feel to it. Some things felt really out of place, such as the baggage carousel in the pic above. All over the airport there were these vast empty spaces that went unused.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01039.jpg
Empty, unused area of the airport

Since we had over an hour before our flight departed, we decided to get some breakfast. I had some Pho with beef, and my family had a more orthodox breaky.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01040.jpg
Pho with beef for breakfast

At the gate area there were about 3 flights departing at the same time. One for a beach resort city in the southern tip of the country, one to Da Nang, and our flight to Hue. I noticed that the flights were not called, but rather boarding for each flight started when the first passenger decided to go to the gate and show his/her boarding card.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01041.jpg
SGN Gate area

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01042.jpg
Our A320 to HUI

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01043.jpg
A VN 772ER preparing for another long-haul flight

When we boarded we were greeted by four F/A's, all of them female. One of them was one of the most beautiful women I saw in Vietnam. Still, I must admit that I did not find Vietnamese women to be that good looking. I think Singaporeans take the cake on that one!

We were shown to our seats, 12 A, B, and C, just behind the exit row. The legroom was quite generous, and it felt like quite a bit of space after the flight with Tiger Airways. I sat down on 12A in order to be able to get some pics for the report.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01044.jpg
VN A320 to Da Nang

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01045.jpg
VN 772ER being towed to a gate

Boarding complete, the flight crew did the safety demo in Vietnamese and in English, and we made our way to the active.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01046.jpg
SGN Tower

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01047.jpg
A Pacific Airlines 737 holding short

Once airborne, the seatbelt signs came off and the flight attendants started the service. The F/A's first came around offering a moist towel and water. This was followed by a snack box which contained a danish, a sealed cup with water, and a bag of nuts.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01049.jpg
Cabin view

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01050.jpg
Turning North towards HUI

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01051.jpg
Sunrise over southern Vietnam

The flight itself was smooth and uneventful. And the four female F/A's did their job very professionally.

About and hour into the flight, the captain came on the PA to announce our descent into Hue. Soon enough we went out over the sea and made a turn for finals to HUI. This gave us a chance to see the aftermath of typhoon Lekima, which devastated central Vietnam and parts of Laos as well. The flooding was incredible, similar to the images I had seen from New Orleans.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01052.jpg
Finals to HUI

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01053.jpg
Mostly flooded down there

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01054.jpg
Seconds from touch down

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01055.jpg
HUI Terminal bldg

There were no aibridges at this airport, so deplaning was done via air stairs both in the front and in the rear. We then boarded a bus that drove us less than 100 yards to the terminal building, which seemed pretty useless, but was further evidence of the bureaucracy.


Nose of our plane

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01057.jpg
Passengers get off from the back as well

We spent two days in Hue and had quite a nice time. It is the old imperial capital of Vietnam, during the Nguyen dynasty, which lasted from 1802 to 1945. We visited the old Citadel and some of the emperor tombs, but I'm saddened to say that most of the old buildings are nearly in ruins about to fall down. There are hardly any restoration efforts, and most of the explanatory plaques are in Vietnamese only.

Some pics of Hue:


Dragon statue at the city's Citadel

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC_0158.jpg
Swarms of Honda 50's dominate the streets of Vietnam


A farmer carrying produce over the Perfume River

Two days later we were back at HUI. My travel guide said the airport was an old American base and that the bldg was still preserved as it was 30 years ago, but I was surprised when I saw a fairly new-looking building on arrival. It felt less than new when we went inside, as the check in and gate areas looked very tired.

Airline: Vietnam Airlines
Flight: VN 250
Sector: HUI-HAN
Dep: 1:50PM
Arr: 3:00PM


HUI Tower

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01062.jpg
HUI's new terminal bldg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01058.jpg
HUI Check in area


VN Business Class check in

We were lucky that we were the first to check in, as two large tour buses filled with Spanish tourists arrived just minutes after us and took ages to check in. There was a small store in the check in area so we had a tamarind juice and some sesame seed candy. After that we went through security to avoid the tour group line and headed upstairs to the waiting lounge.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01064.jpg
Boarding lounge

There was only one un-numbered gate in HUI, and it was used for all flights. I believe HUI only gets daily flights to SGN and HAN.

Very soon our flight was called and we headed back downstairs to the gate to board the bus that would drive us the 90 yards or so to the waiting a/c.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01065.jpg
About to board VN-A303

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01066.jpg
One of our A320's enginges

We were greated on board by four male F/A's and one female F/A. The female F/A's wear a traditional Vietnamese dress, which is quite nice. The men wear a tacky uniform consisting of a white shirt, a brigh red tie, and cheap-looking black slacks.

We were seated in row 12 again, just behind the window seat, but this time on seats D, E, and F. The legroom was truly amazing!

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01069.jpg
Enough space for me and a conical hat!

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01068.jpg
Heading to the active

We had a quick roll and were in the sky turning North again towards the capital city of Hanoi. After the seatbelt sign came off, the F/A's came around offering the food service, which again consisted of a snack box. This time, the contents were a small sandwich, a chocolate bar, and again a sealed cup of water.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01070.jpg
Cabin view as F/A's start the snack service

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01071.jpg
Snack box next to mainstream travel guide

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01072.jpg
View out the window on our way to HAN

This flight was even shorter than the first one, so after less than one hour we were already descending to the Hanoi area.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01073.jpg
Descending South of Hanoi

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01074.jpg
Moments from landing

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01077.jpg
HAN's terminal

I do recall this landing as being quite a hard one! Plus there seemed to have been quite a bit of crosswind, as we were shaked sideways on landing.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC01078.jpg
Pulling up to the gate next to a VN 772ER

Hanoi was also quite nice, even nicer than HCMC, but only the area around the Presidential Palace, HCM's Mausoleum, and the embassy area. I found the Old Quarter quite junky and ugly, not appealing at all. Because of this, we took a day trip to Ha Long Bay, which was fantastic! I would definitely recommend a one or two day trip out there. It is a beautiful part of the country. Some impressions of Hanoi:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC_0194.jpg
A farmer hard at work in a rice field on the road from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC_0197.jpg
A worker carries Vietnam's staple food

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC_0212.jpg
A curious ox snorts at my camera

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC_0321.jpg
Magnificent Ha Long Bay

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v235/komododx/DSC_0380.jpg
Presidential Palace in Hanoi

I hope you enjoyed this trip report of a less travelled but beautiful country with very nice and welcoming people. If you enjoyed reading be kind enough to leave a comment  Smile

Cheers
Coal
Nxt Flts: MI RGN-SIN | SQ SIN-RGN-SIN | CX SIN-HKG-PVG | SQ PVG-SIN
 
krje1980
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RE: Vietnam Airlines: Saigon-Hue-Hanoi (Pics)

Wed Oct 10, 2007 2:51 pm

Wonderful report, as always, Coal. You really are becoming one of my absolute favorite trip-report authors on this site! I must admit I envy the fact that you get to travel so much in Southeast Asia (my favorite part of the world) while I am stuck on this cold rock called Norway.

Keep at it!
 
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TWA757
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RE: Vietnam Airlines: Saigon-Hue-Hanoi (Pics)

Wed Oct 10, 2007 2:54 pm

Nice report! I like the picture of the ox  Smile
 
EXAAUADL
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RE: Vietnam Airlines: Saigon-Hue-Hanoi (Pics)

Wed Oct 10, 2007 4:37 pm

find the changes that have happened in Vietnam since 1990 or so absolutely amazing....also Hue is awe inspiring since in 1968 one of the largest battles and massacres of the war took place there when the NVA took over the city during TET and were driven out by the US marines later.
 
semsem
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RE: Vietnam Airlines: Saigon-Hue-Hanoi (Pics)

Wed Oct 10, 2007 8:30 pm

Now I want to go. I believe they recently built up a nice beach resort. Is Hanoi nicer than Saigon?
 
palmjet
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RE: Vietnam Airlines: Saigon-Hue-Hanoi (Pics)

Wed Oct 10, 2007 9:53 pm

Loved the report and your pics. Thanks for these. I saw a VN team of cabin crew at NRT recently and the women were all immaculately dressed. The VN uniform (for the women) is gorgeous and very classy.
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Ryanair!!!
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RE: Vietnam Airlines: Saigon-Hue-Hanoi (Pics)

Thu Oct 11, 2007 3:05 am

Quoting Coal (Thread starter):
The domestic terminal is much older than the brand new international terminal, and here and there there are vestiges of what an airport should look like in a country under communist (oops, socialist) rule.

I see they have converted the old terminal building into a 100% domestic flights only.

Quoting Coal (Thread starter):
All over the airport there were these vast empty spaces that went unused.

There used to be shops, xray machines and such occupying those ares you saw empty. Refer to my SIN-SGN-SIN report and you can compare the picture i took of the building you were in, and see the vast difference.

Quoting Coal (Thread starter):
Boarding complete, the flight crew did the safety demo in Vietnamese and in English, and we made our way to the active.

Hmm... one question. Were the English announcements pre-recorded?
Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
 
buck3y3nut
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RE: Vietnam Airlines: Saigon-Hue-Hanoi (Pics)

Thu Oct 11, 2007 3:39 am

wow... great report...
and really really good pictures as well... i really enjoyed reading the report...
I really want to visit Vietnam sometime now... Hopefully I can do it sometime soon  Smile
 
Aleksandar
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RE: Vietnam Airlines: Saigon-Hue-Hanoi (Pics)

Thu Oct 11, 2007 6:49 am

Really beautiful trip report. I enjoyed both in text and in photos  Smile
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Coal
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RE: Vietnam Airlines: Saigon-Hue-Hanoi (Pics)

Thu Oct 11, 2007 1:59 pm

Quoting Krje1980 (Reply 1):
Wonderful report, as always, Coal. You really are becoming one of my absolute favorite trip-report authors on this site! I must admit I envy the fact that you get to travel so much in Southeast Asia (my favorite part of the world) while I am stuck on this cold rock called Norway.

Keep at it!

Thanks a lot! You make me blush! No, seriously, stop it!  wink 

Quoting TWA757 (Reply 2):
Nice report! I like the picture of the ox

Thanks! I wanted to crop it, but didn't have enough time. It's my first time using my new camera (Nikon D80). Notince the actual trip pics were taken with a Sony T100. Too ashamed to take out the big equipment  embarrassed 

Quoting EXAAUADL (Reply 3):
find the changes that have happened in Vietnam since 1990 or so absolutely amazing....also Hue is awe inspiring since in 1968 one of the largest battles and massacres of the war took place there when the NVA took over the city during TET and were driven out by the US marines later.

I expected to only find ruins in Hue. Now, most of the things were about to fall down just because of the lack of preservation, but it amazed me to find some of the old buildings still standing.

Quoting Semsem (Reply 4):
Now I want to go. I believe they recently built up a nice beach resort. Is Hanoi nicer than Saigon?

I found Hanoi and surroundings much nicer. They are building a resort area in Ha Long bay for westerners.

Quoting Palmjet (Reply 5):
Loved the report and your pics. Thanks for these. I saw a VN team of cabin crew at NRT recently and the women were all immaculately dressed. The VN uniform (for the women) is gorgeous and very classy.

Thanks! I too love the uniform!

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 6):
I see they have converted the old terminal building into a 100% domestic flights only.

 checkmark 

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 6):
Hmm... one question. Were the English announcements pre-recorded?

No, they were done in broken English. Only the F/A's did the safety demo and pre-arrival announcements. Everything else came from the cabin.

Quoting Buck3y3nut (Reply 7):
wow... great report...
and really really good pictures as well... i really enjoyed reading the report...
I really want to visit Vietnam sometime now... Hopefully I can do it sometime soon

Thanks a lot! You should visit. It's easy to get there with United via HKG.

Quoting Aleksandar (Reply 8):
Really beautiful trip report. I enjoyed both in text and in photos

Thanks a lot!

Cheers
Coal
Nxt Flts: MI RGN-SIN | SQ SIN-RGN-SIN | CX SIN-HKG-PVG | SQ PVG-SIN
 
Eirules
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RE: Vietnam Airlines: Saigon-Hue-Hanoi (Pics)

Thu Oct 11, 2007 7:19 pm

Excellent report, like part 1. I flew this same flight as you but then got the overnight train for the return part of the journey (what an experience!!!). VN ere a very nice airline, I was pleasantly surprised especially by their modern A320s. Such a great trip, wish I was back again.  Sad

Well done again
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PlaneHunter
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RE: Vietnam Airlines: Saigon-Hue-Hanoi (Pics)

Fri Oct 12, 2007 12:51 pm

Another great report with stunning pics! The snack box with the 777 motif is a nice souvenir - how was the snack itself?


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
mindscape
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RE: Vietnam Airlines: Saigon-Hue-Hanoi (Pics)

Fri Oct 12, 2007 3:07 pm

Thank you Coal for such nice trip report with great pictures of Vietnam...

Quoting Semsem (Reply 4):
Now I want to go. I believe they recently built up a nice beach resort. Is Hanoi nicer than Saigon?

Depends on what you like and what you are looking for. HCMC is more vibrant, street crowded, business oriented, but also more polluted than Hanoi which has more preserved colonial buildings, parks and lakes... a softer atmosphere...

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 6):
I see they have converted the old terminal building into a 100% domestic flights only

Correct. The old terminal is now a full domestic terminal. They are in the process to re-organize and refurbish the domestic terminal hence some unused part as shown on of of Coal's pics.

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 6):
Hmm... one question. Were the English announcements pre-recorded?

Fore sure, such a perfect English in a smooth asian style tone can only be recorded, but I have to admit it is quite efficient since the traffic is not too big... Airport staff at SGN (and elsewhere in VN) still have to improve their English skills, especially prononciation...
 
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Coal
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RE: Vietnam Airlines: Saigon-Hue-Hanoi (Pics)

Sun Oct 14, 2007 4:37 am

Quoting EIRules (Reply 10):
Excellent report, like part 1

Thanks!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 11):
Another great report with stunning pics! The snack box with the 777 motif is a nice souvenir - how was the snack itself?

It was ok. The Danish on the first flight was nice, the sandwich on the 2nd flight was edible.

Quoting Mindscape (Reply 12):
Thank you Coal for such nice trip report with great pictures of Vietnam...

My pleasure!

Cheers
Coal
Nxt Flts: MI RGN-SIN | SQ SIN-RGN-SIN | CX SIN-HKG-PVG | SQ PVG-SIN
 
ba319-131
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RE: Vietnam Airlines: Saigon-Hue-Hanoi (Pics)

Sun Oct 14, 2007 6:49 pm

Another good read, excellent stuff Coal, many thanks.

Only down side, most of the return sector pictures no longer show due to bandwith exceeded, shame.

Regards

Mark
111,732,3,4,5,7,8,BBJ,741,742,743,744,752,762,763,764,772,77L,773,77W,L15,D10,30,40,AB3,AB6,A312.313,319,320,321,332,333
 
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Coal
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RE: Vietnam Airlines: Saigon-Hue-Hanoi (Pics)

Mon Oct 15, 2007 9:59 am

Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 14):
Another good read, excellent stuff Coal, many thanks.

Thanks!

And sorry about the pics, how can I make them reappear again? I never got this "bandwith exceeded" crap from photobucket. That's why I hosted the other ones on Picasa.

Cheers
Coal
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zoom1018
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RE: Vietnam Airlines: Saigon-Hue-Hanoi (Pics)

Thu Oct 18, 2007 1:34 am

Great report! hahaha
Next time, try Flickr.

Quoting Mindscape (Reply 12):
Fore sure, such a perfect English in a smooth asian style tone can only be recorded

I disagree.

Quoting Mindscape (Reply 12):
especially prononciation...

and spelling
 
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Coal
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RE: Vietnam Airlines: Saigon-Hue-Hanoi (Pics)

Sat Oct 20, 2007 3:41 am

Quoting Zoom1018 (Reply 16):
Great report! hahaha
Next time, try Flickr.

Thanks. I used Picasa for the TR on my trip to Cambodia.

Is there anyway the mods could let me edit the post to link the pics to Picasa instead?

Cheers
Coal
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B747forever
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RE: Vietnam Airlines: Saigon-Hue-Hanoi (Pics)

Mon Oct 29, 2007 10:12 am

Brilliant TR.

The pics are really great.

Thank you for sharing.

Will read the first part too.

B747forever.
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Coal
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RE: Vietnam Airlines: Saigon-Hue-Hanoi (Pics)

Tue Oct 30, 2007 11:47 am

Quoting B747forever (Reply 18):
Brilliant TR.

The pics are really great.

Thank you for sharing.

Will read the first part too.

B747forever.

Thanks. Still not sure how you managed to view the pics.

Cheers
Coal
Nxt Flts: MI RGN-SIN | SQ SIN-RGN-SIN | CX SIN-HKG-PVG | SQ PVG-SIN

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