When I book flights, I’m always on the lookout for connections that strike me as exotic and fascinating. I love takeoffs and landings, and it’s a cheap and easy way to get a tiny taste of a new country or region, as well as a chance to get new and different airport images.
I also love the feeling that I’m getting to know a foreign country or region in my own way and that makes me more comfortable to step out even further next time. So when I knew I wanted to fly from Hyderabad, India to Japan, I had a choice of connecting flights (mostly through Ethiopia with Ethiopian Airlines, as I searched via Avianca LifeMiles which is a Star Alliance miles program) and many of the choices involved connecting through Bangkok. I don’t necessarily want three flights in one day, but I instantly knew I would take Hanoi, Vietnam as a connection, especially since it meant my 2nd ever trip with ANA (All Nippon Airways) on a 787 to Tokyo.
Hanoi once had the most dangerous and heavily-guarded airpace in the world during the Vietnam War, so it felt a little eerie flying there in a business class seat with Thai Airways. And for the first few minutes after landing, when I saw the domestic terminal and some dilapidated structures scattered around the duel parallel runways, I thought I had made a big mistake and would be miserable in the heat and humidity until my flight to Tokyo.
But when the brand-new four-year old International Terminal came into view, I breathed a big sigh of relief!
I quickly cleared customs past a very imposing Vietnamese soldier? officer? who looked straight out of the history books, and then went upstairs into the big modern terminal. Compared to other large cities, Noi Bai is really comfortable (although always slightly warmer than you might prefer, especially after running to a gate) and it’s really spacious and airy. It’s one long terminal and you can look down at all the gates and planes through massive, clean windows. There are tons of souvenir shops and plenty of places to eat and sit. I was never once approached about my cameras and wound up really impressed by how relaxing it all was.
Things only got better when I found the lounge ANA uses for it’s J travellers. It was very comfortable, stocked with good food and cold drinks, and had wonderful elevated views of the runways. I spent about three hours there eating, drinking and shooting. It was mostly empty as well so it was quiet and a wonderfully relaxing and productive lounge experience!
On this day, the winds were from the east, so aircraft were approaching from the west and flaring right in front of the lounge. Departing aircraft were being pushed out right in front of me or taxiing past from the domestic terminal off to the east.
My current camera package involves matching Nikon D500s, one of which always wears the 200-500mm f5.6. The other two lenses I carried and used were the 70-300 f4.5-6.3 AF-P and the 16-80 F2.8-4. Everything was processed in Lightroom, which I just started using again.
As always, just click on any pic if you want to see the full image!
My 6 hour visit to Vietnam was over too quickly but I had a blast in the airport, much to my surprise. I highly recommend a connecting flight if you have the option. Enjoy the action!