24 Hours of Travel from Home to Hanoi

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For our journey to Vietnam, we redeemed tens of thousands of miles to enjoy business class from home to Hanoi. Having injured my knee just 10 days prior to leaving, I was very grateful for this, as I would otherwise not have had a very comfortable experience in economy. As it was, we had to fly out of San Jose to San Diego, from San Diego to Tokyo, and finally from Tokyo to Hanoi. A long journey for the fittest among us. With compromised mobility — not so fun.

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Of course, I’m also doing everything I can to minimize the amount of waste I create as a traveler on this planet — and on this particular trip — so I of course brought my tea thermos, a small ceramic tea cup, a cloth napkin, my refillable water bottle, shampoo and conditioner, cloth hankies, as well as the travel blanket I bought years ago so I don’t have to rip open a plastic bag for the blanket (sometimes) provided on airplanes. David also brought his refillable water bottle, and to my delight and surprise, he also brought a refillable hot cup for tea or coffee on the go. (And we don’t check bags! All of this + more in our carry-on luggage.)

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The only compromise I’ll definitely have to make is occasionally drinking bottled water here in Vietnam since the water isn’t safe enough without risking a bacterial infection (and upset tummy). HOWEVER, as a CPG Vegan Trip, we’re doing what we can to support minimal waste, so we are providing everyone with water purification tablets and filtered water with which to refill bottles.

Of course, we had arranged for vegan meals with Japan Airlines on all the travel legs, but alas, when we got to San Diego, it was revealed that our vegan meals weren’t in the system. One thing I’ve learned in all the traveling I’ve done is that we will be fine no matter what. Decades ago, when I was a younger vegan and a younger human, I would plan for “food security” from point A to point B. Dare I say….overplanned.

I do think it’s prudent to make sure we have food with us so our journey is more pleasant (the way we make sure children have food so they don’t get hangry). When we remove the X factor of hunger, it means we’re better able to cope with the stress of traveling. But, I have also found that we can cobble together what we need wherever we are — including in airports and on airplanes.

So, even though we didn’t have our vegan meals on the flight from San Diego to Tokyo, they did have an a la carte section from which which picked some delicious options. There was a potato onion curry neither of us even tried, opting instead for the ramen noodles in a delicious with mushrooms and seitan!! (me) and udon noodles in broth with sea vegetables (David). And they made us a delicious salad dressing of the citrus and mustard variety. I had two servings of the noodles and three servings of the salad over the course of the 11-hour flight. They also had fruit and some rolls (oh yes, and wine and whisky), so we were absolutely fine.

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When we arrived in Tokyo, we had only 30 minutes in the business lounge but took advantage of the miso soup (which indicated there was no fish sauce in it) along with more salad. (Strangely, I was hungry throughout the entire journey and just kept eating, which was disconcerting considering the fact that I’ve been virtually immobile during the recovery of my knee injury and thus burning very few calories.) However, I was glad to have options everywhere we went.

On the 6-hour flight from Tokyo to Hanoi, we preferred the seats to those on the previous flight, but the food was mediocre at best. In fact, for this leg, they had the vegan meal for one of us and none of the a la carte options available, so we didn’t enjoy the food as much, but as we were getting weary of the travel at this point, the desire for sleep took precedence over the desire for food. (But of course, I didn’t sleep. I never do on planes. Caught up on lots of writing and reading.)

Unrelated to the food experience, this was the first time I’ve traveled with crutches and with the need for wheelchair assistance, and I’m very grateful for the support I was given from the second we arrived at the first airport until the moment our driver picked us up in Hanoi. I would never wish this need upon anyone, but it was helpful to experience first-hand what is a need for many.

And now, our adventure begins. We just ate our breakfast at the beautiful Sofitel Legend Metropole, where the rest of our group will meet us on Friday for 10 days of awesomeness. This is a CPG Vegan Trip after all! If you’d like to live vicariously through I can encourage you to follow #CPGTrips on Instagram and search for it on Facebook. We’ll be posting photos and videos throughout the trip.  

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