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Live the adventures of Dan Walker's travels through reading his travel journal. The travel journals are listed below in descending order of date. To search the travel journals, use the keyword search at the bottom of the page.

Journal Entry:

Thursday, November 17, 2022 08:02:37

Vietnam, Cambodia, Bali 2022: 1 - Costa Rica to Vietnam

It would seem I was thinking of something other than convenience when I put together the set of flights to get us to Vietnam, however in the end it was an interesting adventure When we get home we will have circumnavigated the world one more time.

Marilynn had ordered wheelchairs for all connecting flights, as I now wear ankle supports and use a cane as my knees are pretty much shot. This 81 year old body has had a tough life and is finally wearing out!! Marilynn at 79 is doing a lot better. We did learn a lesson from this first set of flights, though. Professional wheel chair pushers can really move, and that was a challenge for Marilynn dragging her luggage and trying to slow down the wheel chair. As almost every wheel chair pusher advised, on the way back we will both have wheelchairs.

The advantageous are huge - they know all the routes inside the airport not available to others, those who have been doing this for some time know the airport personnel and get great cooperation in speeding transfers, or if a purchase is needed they either know where to get it or will find out, then take you there. There is no charge for this service, but a tip is expected. My tips varied from two dollars for one who did nothing extra to substantial sums for those who went far out of their way for us. The latter were in the majority.

Monday, November 14, 2022

We taxied to the airport at three thirty AM and flew to Panama. Panama was a near miss. It was a 46 minute connection, and we were 10 minutes late arriving. The wheel chair was 15 minutes late to take us the very long distance to another terminal. We made it with very little time to spare, nearly ending the trip before it really began. If we miss just one flight out of the 5 we will not connect with the boat up the Mekong River, and the booking agent assured us the boat will wait for no one.

From there we flew to Washington, DC, where everyone was surprisingly helpful and friendly, even the guy in security. Both of today's flights were on very well equipped Boeing 737-800 aircraft with so much room even my long legs could not reach the seat in front of me.

While taxiing into our gate I pointed out to Marilynn a number of what appeared to be elevated railway cars with a chimney on top parked at various gates. We soon found out what they were when our wheel chair person guided us into one. It was certainly a COVID trap, being crowded with standing passengers moving between terminals. Marilynn and I both were wearing masks, but few others were. Fortunately at the entrance was a closed off handicap area where our wheel chair man shooed out the other passengers standing there. The vehicle then pulled away from the gate, lowered to tarmac level, drove to the proper gate, elevated and let us all off.

Our wheel chair man took us to the United lounge. Once he was satisfied we were in the proper place, that a wheel chair had been ordered to take us to our next flight and all else was well he left.

When it was close to time for our next flight a wheelchair arrived and we were taken to board a beautifully equipped United Airlines Boeing 777-200 for the overnight flight across the Atlantic to London Heathrow airport. The service in flight was superb, the beds the most comfortable of the trip and the cubicles well equipped.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

We arrive in London a little after 6 AM on November 15. A wheelchair lady was waiting to take us through immigration and customs, a very quick and easy process. She then took us to the United Lounge, where we were told we qualified for a much nicer lounge, which unfortunately was quite a distance away. When we arrived and checked into the lounge our wheelchair lady ensured someone was coming to pick us up for the flight across Asia before leaving us..

From the lounge we were taken to security where a very fussy agent was not satisfied with the full body scanning machine, but took me aside for a check with a wand, then a check with his hands, and then some time on his knees with is wand prodding and poking my ankle supports. This went on for some time until I asked him if he would like me to undo one of them. He appeared to be enormously relieved when I did so. When he was fully assured that there were no bombs or hidden weapons he thanked me profusely and allowed me to reassemble myself to carry on.

Our next flight was on a Vietnamese Airlines Boeing 777-200. We again had connecting cubicles in the middle of the plane, each well equipped for eating, sleeping and entertainment. The very courteous Vietnamese stewardesses looked after us well. Unfortunately, due to my leukemia, I must be cautious about my intake of alcohol, so was unable to explore the considerable wines and liquor menu, but the food was good. The night passed with Asia slipping by far below us. This 12 hour flight was our longest of the 5.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

We arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam at 6:10 on Wednesday, November 16, where we disembarked after a good breakfast. Our wheelchair man took us on a route through long passages not available to regular passengers to arrive and customs and immigration. Once we were cleared he left us at a bus stop for transportation to the domestic terminal.

It was quite awhile before the bus arrived for a drive of several miles to the other terminal, where Marilynn approached an employee to ask about a wheel chair. The employee asked if we were in business class, and when we confirmed we were took as to a check in counter where we showed our boarding passes. The attendant then issued us new boarding passes with the gate number on them and called for a wheel chair, which soon showed up.

After checking at the gate we were taken to what looked like an elevator door. When it opened we moved into an elevator sized area which turned out to be mobile. It was driven to the plane we were to board. He stopped in front of a closed door on the plane just behind the cockpit, and banged on it. When it was opened he brough our transporter to the floor lever of the plane and we entered. We were greeted by the crew and shown to our seats, only a few steps away.

The plane and configuration of seats were identical to the flight from London. We were served a full breakfast once again that would hold us for the rest of the day. On arrive in Saigon our wheelchair awaited. Marilynn wanted a sim card for her cell phone, and we wanted to change money into Vietnamese Dong. Both should have been done in the international terminal in Hanoi, as our wheelchair man found out after inquiring in several places in the domestic terminal. Not to be defeated he wheeled out of the terminal and down the sidewalk to another arrivals terminal, where he quickly found everything we needed, supervised the transactions to ensure all was done correctly, and then to a taxi stand where he arrange a taxi to take us to the Sheraton Hotel. We thanked our amazing wheel chair man profusely and financially.

Our driver did not say a word when we got in, nor did he say a word during the trip or on arrival at the Sheraton. With the help of a hotel employee we found the right amount in our newly acquired Vietnamese dong to pay the silent driver. We were quickly checked in, escorted to our room and shown around. Once everyone left we stripped off our clothes, and without wash or shower climbed into a very comfy bed to sleep steadily for 18 hours.