Corinne and I have not been back to Asia since we were in Thailand and Vietnam five years ago. We have been wanting to go back ever since, but we felt that if we were going to take Elliot so far away, we would need to take more than our usual 4-7 day trip. Some fortunate circumstances developed that allowed us to both take two weeks off, and immediately we began to plan our return to Asia. Even though Elliot has been a fantastic traveler for the past four years, we were uncertain how this trip would affect him. Sixteen hour flights and 12 hour time changes are difficult for everyone, and we knew that they would be equally challenging for a four year old. Even with those concerns, we had to go given the opportunity.
Selecting our destinations was difficult because we wanted to go everywhere. We ended up planning this trip the way we plan most of our trips. Plan around the food first and everything else second. That would naturally take us to Singapore because their culture seems to revolve around food more than any other place in the world, and probably back to Vietnam since we have a real love of the cuisine. Even though Elliot enjoys our trips we felt that it would only be fair to try to schedule in a few days at the beach to give him, and us, a break from running around.
Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia were all on our list of other places to go but trying to figure out the best way to see as much as possible, given our limited time frame was not easy. We eventually settled on a routing that would take us directly from New York to Hong Kong and from there we figured out an itinerary that would allow us all direct flights to Hanoi, Singapore, Phuket and back to Hong Kong. Total trip time is scheduled for 15 days with 6 flights and over 20,000 flying miles. To put that in perspective, on CBS' Amazing Race the teams fly less than 30,000 miles during the entire race.
Looking at a map, you may think that flying west would be the quickest route but the best way is to actually fly over the North Pole and then through Siberia and Mainland China.
Neither of us were looking forward to the 16 hour flight to Hong Kong but we have flown close to that before so figured that everything would be OK. We loaded up on DVD's, books, snacks and toys to make sure that we would have everything that we could possibly need during this long flight.
Since we had an early morning flight to Hanoi we booked a room at the Citygate Hotel. This was the most modern, well designed hotel room that we have ever stayed in. To top it off it was attached to a premium outlet mall. No shopping for us since we got in a little late but at least the food court was open.
This was not your typical food court with McDonalds, Taco Bell and Pizza. Instead it was set up as a village of a dozen or so mini restaurants selling a variety of street foods from different Asian countries. We all shared some Won Ton noodle soup from the noodle place and beef randang and some fishball/tofu soup from the Malaysian restaurant.
Our time here in Hong Kong is short but we will be back for a few days before we return home. Next stop... Hanoi
Corinne, Keith & Elliot