Vietnam 2008 Ready, Steady, Go ….

Just 2 more days until my Vietnam trip will be commencing. I love Asia, and I would anytime go there if there were no constraints. However, the main reason for this journey is: it suddenly struck me in June that I still had an old 140 or so thousand miles balance with Flying Blue, the frequent traveller program of Air France – KLM. I called KLM and was told all miles were to expire at the end of June, but I only had to order, was the consolation, not to fly within the next 10 days.

This is what I am looking forward to.

It took me a phone call of around 45 minutes to give up on KLM or Air France and to tell the agent, if there were no flights to Hanoi available until Christmas, there were still other airlines within the SkyTeam alliance that also could redeem my Flying Blue miles, e.g. Aeroflot or Chinese airlines. She suggested I would better survey the internet for suitable airlines and then call back. Great. The second call took a little less than 45 minutes and I finally had a flight with Aeroflot via Moscow and a return flight from Hanoi to Zurich via Paris.

Similar stories are told by everybody I spoke to who wanted to book an overseas flight with miles. Why can I not tell them I did not care where and when to fly and they just told me what possibilities they had? The booking records are there, and the available seats too, but the girls have to check day-by-day. The technology was ready to do this job already 20 years ago; it has been doing it for paid flight bookings all the time. They, the airlines, must be happy to discourage people from booking flights with miles. They, the girls, must be happy with their pay and do not care, otherwise they would quit their jobs.

Hence, I will be on my way on Thursday, with very limited luggage – I still hope. One shirt on and 2 in the rucksack, same with underpants, and much more I don’t need. I will take a motorcycle helmet with me, as they had only one or two helmets for my head size, Offroad Vietnam informed. And then I can soak my cheeks in old sweat of my own, and not of some dozens of rental predecessors with pimples.

Yes, motorcycling through the mountains of Northwest Vietnam is the thing of the first 10 days. I signed up with a commercial operator, Offroad Vietnam, who had no tour scheduled for October and said, if I didn’t start it, perhaps nobody would. Funny. So I initiated the tour according to my schedule, at a high daily charge for me alone, but 4 other individual riders joined in the meantime, and my fee, anybody’s fee in fact, became lower, and the operator’s margin better.

I hope this will not become our daily routine.

My further posts in this newly created blog depend heavily on the availability of internet cafés and the speed of their connections. I hope you will be hearing from me soon.

Pictures used here in this first post and the header (for the time being) are copyright by

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