The $471 typo had its perks!

We breathed a sigh of relief upon actually boarding the plane, the $471 Vietnam Visa Fiasco still fresh in our minds. We were grateful for the miracle of not losing our flight altogether. The ticketing agents witnessed the Randy & Anita team lose both our minds and our seat selections in the ordeal (they had genuine looks of empathy) and they assigned us new better seats for the 16-hour first flight and then re-assigned us to Premium Economy for the Taipei to Hanoi flight. My $471 Visa wasn’t a real one, but rather some sort of “temporary” thingy allowing me passage out of Toronto. Upon arrival in Hanoi I was to disembark and rendezvous-vous with a special person who would hold up a card with my name on it and he’d sort it out. Through the crowd I spotted him—and like a Chariots of Fire scene I ran toward him in slow motion, glee all over my face and imaginary music propelling me, fuelled by delirious delight that he actually materialized.  Anticipating a lengthy sequence of events to follow, imagine our surprise when he escorted us right past the crowded Customs lineups, straight to the “Diplomats” which was darn near empty. We felt like VIPs! The agent looked at me, looked at my passport—stamp stamp, and I’m done, free to explore Vietnam!  I looked back at the hundreds still in lineups and thought—well, at least we got something for that $471 dollars.

Bing bang boom—we claimed our baggage and 15 seconds later a taxi driver was shoving our bikes and gear into his SUV and we were on the road to our hotel. Cars honkin’, motor-bikes swervin’, passin’ on the right, passin’ on the left, zig-zaggin’ it, and close your eyes cuz you don’t want to see how close we came—we’ll need some time to study this traffic chaos.

We’ve got time. We are here for three nights in a quiet little hideaway down a side-alley. Suddenly the time change hit us right smack between the eyes and we were exhausted from the 30 hour journey to get here. But not too exhausted that we didn’t venture out for a sneak peek of what’s in store in Hanoi. Plus logistics—we needed food—so Randy got some noodles and we both chowed down on a Bánh mì, then sourced out some beautiful baked pastries for brekky. It feels weird handing over 60 ,000 units of Viet-money but hey—it only translates to a little over $3 dollars so we’re good.

A little nighttime tour of the area confirms it—food is a thing here (too!) as it was in Thailand, street exploration is like digging through a treasure chest and we are in for a wheelie grand adventure.

Somewhere over northern Japan

60,000 Vietnam dongs ($3.31)


Posted in Uncategorized, Vietnam 2024.


  1. Dear Rany and Anita . . . you are both truly amazing!! you are right up there on the “WOW” scale! Keep the wonderful blog and pictures coming! cheers Elaine and Gray ps we are off on our little adventure, 5 weeks of back roads (via car) in Portugal!

  2. Awesome! Hope the rest of your adventures is problem free but any problems have the same fantastic outcomes!
    Have a great adventure be safe, Brenda and I are looking forward to travelling vicariously through your emails!
    Best regards
    Wayne and Brenda

  3. Looks like the little mishap worked out for the best after all! I hope you both have a good rest before the cycling journey begins. Looking forward to following your adventure!!

  4. Chaos is certainly the word to describe traffic in Hanoi…at least that was Beth and my experience. Just walk out into the flow we were told–don’t stop. Easier said than done but it did seem to work. What’s the story of that canoe? Is is for ceremonies? I haven’t seen one exactly like that before. I’m sure you will enjoy the food. Generally everything is very fresh.

    • That was the advice we were given too…good advice but I’m surprised it’s still true today it seems.

    • The canoe was in the waiting area at the Taipei airport. Each departure gate had separate and distinct themes and were very well done. Not sure what this particular theme. A nearby gate was themed Birds of Taiwan and the seating looked like nests with big giant eggs. Very creative.

  5. Love your blog Anita. The pic of the baked goods looked so yummy, had to dash out for almond croissants. 😉
    Any chance you can bring home noodle recipes?

    • There seems to be plenty of bakeries with beautiful pastries. I think it’s the French influence.

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