Friday, January 3, 2020

Viet Nam Trip June July 2020

Trip postponed until June. April 30 public celebrations canceled because of corona virus

Indochina Trip

June - July 2020

25th Anniversary of Normal Relations

The program encompasses Viet Nam's history and culture before and during the American war; legacies from land mines, UXO and Agent Orange; current society, economy and relations with the US; and the challenges posed by China in the East a.k.a. South China Sea.  As part of the anniversary, there will be official events in Ha Noi, including a two day conference.

Our need to accommodate the official schedule of the anniversary means a return to Ha Noi which can be omitted by those under time constraints.  There will be many meetings, including at the US embassy., but also a chance to enjoy the food and ambience of a country that has become a popular destination for US tourism.  If the corona virus requires further postponement, the like new dates are September-October.  Our host is the Viet Nam - USA Society of the Viet Nam Union of Friendship Organizations. 


My goal is to share with you the contacts I have made during 45 years of visits to Viet Nam and Laos and 42 years to Cambodia. 


(Monday or Tuesday, June 22 or 23:  depart US)

Wednesday, June 24:  latest arrival in Ha Noi  (some may come sooner for personal sightseeing in the city or to Sa Pa) 

Thursday-Friday, June 25-26: Conference on US-Vietnam Partnership, VUFO/VUS coordinate with the US Embassy (this will involve former ambassadors, NGOs, businesses, etc.)

Saturday-Monday, June 27-29:  meetings in Ha Noi; visits to Ethnology Museum, Van Mieu University, Water Puppets, Garco 10 Factory

Tuesday, June 30:  day train to Dong Ha

Wednesday, July 1:  Vinh Moc tunnel village, Quang Tri Land Mine UXO Center (drive to Hue)

Thursday-Friday, July 2-3;  Hue, meeting with Hue UFO;  visits to Linh Mu pagoda, the Citadel; imperial dinner during river cruise (drive to Hoi An)

Saturday-Sunday, July 4-5:  Hoi An, East Sea museum, meeting with Dr. Tran Duc Anh Son , meeting with Da Nang UFO, Agent Orange victims special school if open on weekend,  Cham Temples, My Lai  (because of weekend, may need to be in Da Nang on Monday morning for meeting with UFO)

Monday-Wednesday, July 6-8:  (fly to Ho Chi Minh City) meeting with HCMC UFO, Ben Tre Province (same lunch location, Kerry massacre site, coconut factory), Bien Hoa remediation site, export processing zone in HCMC (not the long drive outside)

Thursday, July 9:  fly to Ha Noi  (time dependent on additional program in Ha Noi)

Friday, July 10:  pottery village?, VUFO/VUS reception for 25th anniversary

Saturday - Sunday, July 11-12:  Ha Long Bay option  (separate price)

[Possible extensions according to interest]

Monday - Tuesday,  July 13 - 14  Vientiane, Laos

Wednesday -  Thursday, July 15 - 16  fly to Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Friday - Saturday, July 17 - 18  Angkor Wat   (depart to Bangkok)

Schedule subject to change. 


One of the participants, Janet Gardner, made a fascinating documentary about the tunnel complex at Vinh Muc, north of the DMZ that we are visiting   http://gardnerdocgroup.com/world/world4.html

An innovation on this trip is to take a soft-seat day train between Hanoi and Dong Ha. We have used the overnight sleeper before.  It is a fascinating trip, but mostly in the dark and some people don't sleep well.  https://www.seat61.com/Vietnam.htm#

If you want to spend some tourism time getting over jet lag, you should consider traveling from Ha Noi to Sa Pa a day or two earlier.

FRD functions as the facilitator of your visit, not as a travel agent.

We cannot assume any legal liability so advise purchase of travel insurance, including health if your plan doesn't provide coverage  outside of the US.



Click here to register by May 15th.
After completing the form, click on Submit at the bottom.


International air tickets

Flight connections to Ha Noi can be made via Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore and Seoul.

You can take a look at route and fare options easily at  https://www.google.com/flights  Pay attention to total time en route and layovers.   Because of the international date line, the outbound flight usually requires two calendar days, but the return flight is only one. Include premium economy as well as economy in your search.  If you can handle the extra cost, the long flight to the other side of the world is less stressful in premium.  Don't neglect options of flights via Europe, the middle east or China/Taiwan.  Business class with national airlines may be less than and their premium economy is usually better than US carriers.  Kayak and other on line services may offer different options than google.

If you have miles for award travel, start checking with your airline.  (American Airlines wants 35,000 each way in economy; 70,000 for business.)  Most have functional on-line systems now, but a phone call may offer additional choices, especially on non-US partner airlines (with a service charge for human interaction).  Keep trying.  Award tickets can become available and disappear in 24 hours.   

Check out options if your primary international flight is into and out of Bangkok.  Tickets between Bangkok and Ha Noi are inexpensive and can be booked through google, etc.  Bangkok is also a fun place to recover from jet lag or relax after the trip.

If you want help from a professional travel agent, Steve Power <hiddentour@gmail.com>, is familiar with the region.  My daughter Tara is also developing a travel business part time and lived in Ha Noi for four years. Tara Mullaney <taramcauliff@hotmail.com>


Impact of the corona virus

We are regularly in contact with our hosts in Viet Nam about the status of the virus.  Hot weather in Viet Nam in June and July may offer some protection.   Until the situation is clear, make sure that air tickets can be modified or canceled without penalty or hold off on confirming purchase.  Alternatively, be sure that travel insurance will cover cancellation because of risk of illness. https://www.insuremytrip.com/travel-insurance-plans-coverages/cancel-for-any-reason/

Because of the virus, there is better availability and lower cost for both cash and award tickets.  In addition there may be a guarantee that change or cancellation will be possible without penalty.


Supplemental travel

Sa Pa can be visited before or after Ha Noi.  Before offers time to get over jet lag.

For the more adventurous without time pressure, Vietnam contains extraordinary national parks described here https://vietnam.travel/things-to-do/7-amazing-national-parks-vietnam  with a good map here https://www.touropia.com/national-parks-in-vietnam/   I can point you toward a local travel agent to make arrangements for additional exploration before or after our program.


Costs

On the registration form is a link to make a non-refundable donation to FRD of $250.   https://donorbox.org/fund-for-reconciliation-and-development That serves to confirm your participation and pays for my expenses to accompany you.  You will pay directly your own international air fare.  In mid March I'll send you an almost final estimate of in-country costs including meals, hotel and domestic travel.  Most of it can be paid in advance by credit card.  Group meals will be prepaid in cash or travelers checks collected on arrival.  I won't know the exact cost until the full program is confirmed by the Vietnamese.  Based on past experience, it should be between $2700 and $3200, depending in part on whether you are sharing a room (recommended only for couples).


Visas

Check the expiration date of your passport.  It must be six months after your date of entry.  Vietnam offers a good on-line application system but wait until I send you the link.  There are also commercial operations that charge more and may not reliable.  Laos and Cambodia are visas on arrival but you need to provide a visa photo.

Please scan the picture page of your passport and e-mail it to me as an attachment.  director@ffrd.org  Taking a picture with your phone is not a good alternative.


Questions

Don't hesitate to ask.  Most will be answered to the whole group since your uncertainties will be shared, even if not yet articulated.



-- John McAuliff    director@ffrd.org    917-859-9025

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