The first time I went to Hanoi was in 2010. It was the last stop in my 10-day trip in Vietnam, and after going from Ho Chi Minh, Hoi An, and Hue, I’m ready to just take it easy. Fortunately (or unfortunately), Toy Story 3 just came out, so instead of sightseeing as all the travelers are doing, I did what the locals do on a Saturday afternoon: I watched a movie. Apart from that and my day trip to Halong Bay, I did nothing else in Hanoi.
That’s why when I got the invite from Cebu Pacific to visit Hanoi, I jumped on the chance to really see what Hanoi has to offer.
Cebu Pacific flies to Hanoi three times a week from Manila. The flight arrives in Hanoi just past midnight, and flies back at 1 am, giving tourists an entire day to explore the city after and before their flight. Perfect for a weekend getaway.
Though the trip was just a tad longer than my previous trip to Hanoi, I was able to see and do a lot more. Here are the things I loved about this city:
- Take note of the current number they’re serving and your own number. Hopefully, there would be about 80 people ahead of you so you’d have time to shop.
- Go to the mall information kiosk and ask if there’s a travel agency in the building. Locate the agency and ask if they book flights with Cebu Pacific. If they answer negatively, ask if they accept bookings for Philippine Airlines or Air Philippines. If they do, request for a quotation. Brace yourself for the fare they will quote you. Thank the man for accommodating your request and resignedly walk back to the Cebu Pacific ticketing office, hoping that the queue has progressed significantly, but has not gone past your number yet.
- Head back to the ticketing office laden with bags full of snacks and have an impromptu picnic.
- Read the tattered remnants of Summit Publication magazines lying around. Indulge yourself with the luxury of having the time (and sufficient amount of boredom) and pore over past issues of Good Housekeeping, Smart Parenting, Preview and Smile. If you’re lucky, you just might chance upon a Cosmopolitan or two.
- Have a chat with the person you dragged along with you to this ordeal about life, love and outhouses. Once you run out of things to talk about, rehash old stories and jokes you still laugh about. This helps you cling to the remaining threads of your sanity.
- Once the conversation runs out, bring out the MP3 players. Lose yourself as you listen to Cher, Madonna and Kylie. Dancing optional.
- Pull out one earphone or both, as you eavesdrop on an irate customer complaining to the manager/supervisor about the slow service. Take a good look at the service counters as he points out that while there are 11 counters, only 2 are manned.
- Make a solemn vow to yourself to ease up on the credit card usage. If your cards aren’t maxed out all the time, you wouldn’t have to go through this experience ever again. Unless there are changes in your schedule and you’d have to have your flight re-booked. In that case, good luck and have fun going through this thing all over again.
- Rejoice as the digital display turns to 131. Take the strip of paper marked with 134 out of your organizer and clutch it tightly in your hands. This is your cue to start praying that the people holding on to 131, 132 and 133 won’t take long or have already left.
- Mentally kick yourself for neglecting to bring your camera so you can take snapshots of this unforgettable experience where you waited for four long hours, only to be served for less than 10 minutes. Thanks to this oversight, your only marker for the amount of time you spent in the ticketing office is your mobile phone’s call register and your ticket’s time stamp.