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Phase II


Before the Trip

There were tight deadlines and uncertainties right up until the departure date. This is a blog entry posted just a couple of days before the beginning of the trip:

"All of the visas are finally complete and in hand, five days before departure for Eric, three days before for Will.

"Will's passport had be delivered to and from Canada. Russia, China, and Belarus visas were all obtained from Canada, with the passport sent directly from one consulate to the next by pre-arranged courier.

"Eric's was able to stay in London, but he also had to get a Vietnam visa. The good news is that the Vietnam visa no longer needs to be so specific. The visa is good for one month and it is not necessary to leave on a specific date. Border points are also not required to be specified any more.

"This is good because Eric's return flight from Hanoi to Europe is not very secured. Vietnam Airlines' UK and USA offices appear to be staffed by people who know nothing about the airline business. A call directly to Hanoi was able to produce a reservation number for a one-way flight from Hanoi to Paris. The good news is that their one-way tickets are true prices, that is, one-half of a return flight price, in this case US $775. The bad news is that they do not accept phone payments; Eric must pay in the office in Hanoi in person, complete with passport and signatures. Furthermore, they can only hold the seat until January 6. He cannot call before then to extend the reservation, but must call on the 6th, from Beijing. Apparently, there "should" be no problem to hold the seat the extra few days. Eric is sticking with this plan because the next cheapest flight options cost at least an additional $1,000.

"Most other travel arrangements are complete. Winter boots and coats will be purchased in Moscow, cheap ones that can be traded away as they head further south through China. These are not available or very expensive where we live.

"It's starting to get exciting. The coolest thing for Eric is how the journey will begin. He regularly takes the Tube all over London. This trip will begin the same way. It will be an experience to ride the subway as usual, but this time knowing that the destination is Hanoi rather than Leicester Square. Even the second train is a fairly routine Eurostar journey under the English Channel, made more exciting knowing the final destination.

"Eric - from London"