Welcome Back

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have arrived to Tan Son Nhat International Airport. Please remain seated with your seat belt fastened until the aircraft comes to a complete stop.  The local time is 3:20 PM.  Thank you for flying with Air Asia.  We hope to see you again soon.”

I’m back.

I’m back in Vietnam.

I’m amazed.  Vietnam was my first destination out of the US, and thus is forever special in my heart.  I came here as a high school student with my family in December 2009 for ten days and I loved every single second.  And I came back! I still can’t believe it.

As soon as the plane stopped moving, I was out of my seat, grabbing my carry-ons and trying not to be squashed by the surging multitude of people behind me doing the exact same thing.

Once I was out of the plane, I ran straight to the passport control, causing people to give me the disapproving “get your act together” look.  They probably thought I was going to miss a flight.  It was just such a great feeling to be returning here, and I couldn’t wait to be out of the airport and into the city.

But even thought I was in a hurry, I did notice a lot of changes to this airport.  It’s significantly more advanced than DMK and not quite to the level of  ICN.  There was a whole rack of immigration officer stations, whereas Bangkok only had four people processing everyone.  In Korea, there were people directing you into clearly marked and defined lines, and there was one of those hi-tech glass gates for each station.

I got an e-visa this time, so I was holding on to my cell phone with the visa screenshot, earnestly hoping there wouldn’t be any problem for not printing it out.  The immigration officer looked at the screen for the longest ten seconds of my life, and then let me through.  Praise God.

But anyway, I went and stood at the top of the escalator, looking down to the luggage area. I remember doing this eight years ago as well.  There are more luggage carousels than last time.  The floors are new, with white, sparkling linoleum as opposed to the grungy floor in my memory.  The luggage carts are new as well.  In addition, multiple SIM card and currency exchange booths provide color and interest to the landscape.  There is now also air conditioning in the airport.

As always, more to come!

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