#2 of 101 Things To Complete: Explore Thailand + Vietnam | The Big Leap in 2021

In 2014, I posted this Vimeo Staff Pick called “Somewhere in Vietnam” and that started it for me.  Follow that up with Casey’s video called “The Vietnam Notebook”  which he took with his son in 2012 to Vietnam to rent a motorcycle and travel the countryside.  That video made me want to rent motorcycles and travel the countryside and not get killed with my kids and have them expierence a way different culture, beautiful sweet friendly people and eat food that is outside their comfortzone of pasta with butter.

With what is happening in the world with the Pandemic virus, it would be wise to push this trip and keep saving for it.

The yummy street food of Hanoi

I thought it would be fun to fly into the old formerly named city of Siagon, which is now called Ho Chi Minh City (map) (Kara & Nate Vlog) and sleep off some jetlag and venture out and see the busy city sights and taste some yummy food. This city is in the south of Vietnam and I thought it would be fun to travel up the coast to Hanoi in the North. We would have to do a sleeper bus for fun and also by train (YouTube Video) & more videos to watch. There are some beach cities along the way to stop and explore. By the time we get to Hanoi in the North, the kids will be a little more settled with the food. Before going on this trip, we need to dine at a Vietnam and Thai restaurant in Toronto and sample some food and I don’t mean taking a bite. I mean eating 25% of four different dishes and we will do this about 5 times. I’m not going to force them to eat bugs and things on a stick that looks like they are still thinking inside. If you want to watch Kara & Nate’s Vlogs in Vietnam… you can find them here.

So travelling north along to the coast to Hanoi would be fun. Hoi Ann & Hue are two nice spots to explore. In the North, I would like to Hike in the mountains near Sapa before making our way to beautiful Halong Bay for a little cruise and explore the incredible bay and islands.

Vietnam Sleeper Train
Halong Bay above

In Halong Bay, you have to do a little 3-day cruise and visit some of the floating villages in the bay and do some kayaking. Boats will shuttle you to beaches and also take you to some places you can hike and climb up the cliffs on paths to the top to see the views of the bay. I decided to post two Kara & Nate’s Vlogs showing the cruise they took in the Bay to give you an idea of Halong Bay.

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Then move to Thailand to rent some motorcycles and do a loop in the northern part of Thailand.

We would then fly over to Thailand which is right beside Vietnam to the West. In the North is Chiang Mai. We will rent two motorcycles. Chantal will have one and Noah will be on the back of mine. We will buy and strap a pillow to make it comfortable for Noah. If he is sleepy like he was on our Europe trip then I will tie him to me so he doesn’t fall asleep and fall off.

The hardest part of renting motorcycles is finding our way out of the city and dealing with the crazy traffic which is like the start of a marathon when you get a red light.
If it’s safe for 62 fishy’s and a family of 6 on one… then the 3 of use should be fine on two bikes.
Northern Thailand is not that crazy to ride a bike and this loop should be fine once we are out of the city.

The Mae Hong Son Loop can be done in about 4 days. This trip in total we would need about 3 weeks to do all the things we want to do. Flying there is the most expensive part. Vietnam and Thailand are super affordable for logging, eating and visiting things. After northern Thailand, we will fly down to Bangkok in the south and explore the city before going south to the incredible Thai beaches down near Phuket. Maybe I and the kids should have not watched this movie together. Hopefully, the kids don’t remember the opening scene of the movie (The Impossible from 2012)

After southern Thailand, it would be to fly home through Vietnam or maybe when booking we could come home via Bangkok back to Toronto. All I know is that it would be a wild trip and after taking the kids to Europe for 19 days last August… a trip like this to the other side of the world would be crazy fun and such a great experience for them and myself. I already have a Trip Planning Book all set for this trip to fill with ideas and information.

If you want to watch Kara & Nates Travel Vlogs filmed in Thailand… you can view them here.

Plane Spotting | Yes it’s a thing | How do you tell them apart?

Toronto Pearson Airport Layout + Runways

Working for an airline, you get worked up about planes. The types and the specs of them. Some planes are easy to spot and understand the types of them. But some of them are super hard when just looking at them. There are little tips on figuring out what they are.

In Toronto, there is a couple of spots you can go watch the planes come in or take off. The most popular is Runway 23 where planes come in from the east and fly over the Petro Canada Gas station and land. Over by the Fed Ex complex you can watch planes on Runway 15. And you have planes landing on Runway 6L or 6R. It’s tricky since planes will be diverted to different runways depending on the winds and also the time of day. Runway 23 is Toronto’s longest, so that is where you see the big heavy’s come in and you can park your car behind the gas station and there is a Wendy’s if you need a snack. Quite not like LAX’s In-Out Burger where you can eat yummy food and plane spot. Download Flightradar24 to check out where the planes are coming in from. If they are coming in the other direction on runway 05 the vantage on Dixie Road is not the best like Airport Road.

Lufthansa’s Boeing 747-400 on final approach at Toronto Pearson on Runway 23

Boeing 747 vs Airbus A380

This is the easiest of planes to tell the difference between these two “heavy’s”. These two planes have upper decks. The Boeing 747 has it for the first 1/3 of the plane. In the old days, Pan Am made this a popular plane since the first class passengers could go up the stairs and enjoy a drink in the bar and lounge in the upper deck for intercontinental flights. The Airbus A380 has an upper deck that goes the full length of the plane. YouTube has a great documentary on the Airbus A380 from National Geographic which is worth the watch. If you want to watch another documentary on the A380, you can view this 3hr doc here.

The A380 was launched in December in 2000 and basically 10 years later Airbus has decided to stop production in 2021. It’s the largest commercial airline in the world. Check out Sam’s channel and his video about the rise and fall of this incredible plane.

So with these two… you just have to see if it has an upper deck and you can easily figure out if it’s a 747 or A380.

I flew on the Boeing 747 with Lufthansa (Class / Seat: Economy / 37A | Aircraft Type: Boeing 474-430 | Aircraft: D-ABTL / 17 Years Old)

I really want to fly on the Airbus A380 and I will have to get my ass to a city to fly Lufthansa at a discount to experience this flight. (LAX, SFO, NYC)

Boeings Queen Of The Sky + my personal fave the Boeing 747

Basics: Airbus vs Boeing Plane Spotting Tips

Let’s cover some basic tips before we start getting into some plane comparisons. Below you will see the nose differences and the cockpit windows. The Boeing windows have more of a “v” shape on the bottom and the Airbus is more straight and you will see the last window has a slanted edge in the top right corner.

Airbus on the left and the Boeing on the Right has a dorsal fin with more of an angle.
Airbus engines on the left compared to Boeing on the right
Airbus on the left is round and Boeing on the right is flatter at the bottom

Short Haul Aircrafts: Airbus A320 vs. Boeing 737

I’ve flown on the Airbus 319, 320 and 321.

Long Haul Aircrafts: Airbus A330 vs 787 Dreamliner

Boeing’s sexy jagged engine will help you determine it’s the Dreamliner with its big GE engine.
GE Boeing 787 engine with the sexy jagged design.

A year ago on a business trip, I was upgraded to business class on Air Canada’s Dreamliner which was my first experience to fly business class on an intercontinental flight.

Date: March 19, 2019 | Route: FRA YYZ | Flight No: AC877 / Operated by Air Canada | Class / Seat: Business / 8A | Aircraft Type: Boeing 787 Dreamliner / 3 Years old | Aircraft: C-FGEI

Airbus A340 vs Boeing 777

Airbus has four engines for this long wide-body plane. Boeing 777 has two big engines and no wingtip where the Airbus A330/A340 has a large wingtip.

Flew on the Airbus A340 from Lufthansa from Toronto to Munich on my way to Lisbon. I’ve flown the triple 7 once on a flight from Frankfurt to Toronto on my way home from Lisbon on Air Canada. I was told at the last minute to get on the plane and I had no idea what I was boarding till later.

Airbus A350 vs Boeing 777

Airbus A350 with it’s unique “Zorro” mask cockpit windows.
Airbus A350 sexy rounded wingtip.
Lufthansa’s A350 arriving in Toronto over Airport Road with it’s two big engines. 50% quieter and 25% more fuel-efficient making this aircraft the world’s airlines want to purchase due to its long-range and efficiency.

Wanna Try Plane Spotting?

If you want to try it. You can watch planes come in at London’s Heathrow Airport by watching this video on YouTube. I’m working on my personal notes and I’m going to update this post with more information and add some other aircraft that I didn’t mention. I’m looking forward to going plane spotting with my kids and see if I can get them to understand some of the differences. On our trip to Europe… Noah was making fun of me everytime I could hear a plane landing and I had to stop and watch it.

My mind is becoming a little AVGEEK hangout

the circle with the flying crane inside who started flying in 1919 allowed me to start looking into the world of avaitation and i’m thankful

from travel, airports, planes and the business of flying has lit a little light inside to travel and explore… it’s such a interesting industry that is ever changing and also challenging.

can’t wait for the next adventure

My Travel Journal + Travel Planner

Moving over to Miles&More with Lufthansa, we were given these little journals.  When planning for a work trip last March, I started to fill it up with trip details since I was heading to Germany and then to Italy after as a little personal side trip.  After that trip was over, I started to plan the trip with the kids to Europe.  During the trip, I kept receipts and little papers.

When I got home I taped them all inside and printed some 5×7’s to pepper inside to make a little summary of the trip.  Now it’s getting fat and it’s going to force to to retire it.  Next big trip will be Thailand + Vietnam so I have a new journal for that trip shown below.

Euro2019 Trip | Leg Four | Off To Lisbon, Portugal

Since we didn’t know if we would make the flights to Lisbon, we decided to book once we hit the ground in Portugal.  Upon landing, we booked the Lisbon Chillout Hostel (shown above) & grabbed a Uber and checked in close to 2AM. Great price and the breakfast the next morning was great in the self-serve kitchen shown above.  We decided to walk downhill towards the water and check out the Rue Augusta that is lined with shops and patios.  This pedestrian friendly road leads you down to the water and into Praca do Comercio square, which is where we headed to sample the city and let the kids get their sense of direction.

I also wanted to take them on top of on a hill to get a good view of the city at sunset.  Miradouro da Senhora do Monte is an excellent place for this. (shown below) Bring a blanket and a bottle of wine and some food and sit and hang out with the locals also doing the same.  It’s best lookout since you can see the castle, city, river and the bridge in the background.

 

The next day we moved over to The New Hub Lisbon Hostel, which I booked in advance using HostelWorld.  Excellent place with great amenities and excellent location.  They even have a ball pit room.  I had the top bunk, so after two pitchers of Sangria… it was hard to climb the wooden ladder to get into bed.

In the video above you will see us take a Tuk Tuk, which is also recommended after you negotiate a great price.  We also tour the city on the famous Tram 28 that takes you east across the city towards Belem.  We loved this tram and it was included in our 24hr city metro pass that is good on the subway, buses, tram and also ferry if you add that extension to the ticket.  Advice for the Tram is go early in the morning to make sure you get a seat with a open window.

A great place to eat is the TimeOut Market shown below with so many food vendors surrounding the many tables that allows you to taste many little yummy things.  It’s down by the water and easy to get to from the city square by the river.

 

 

 

 

Euro2019 Trip | Leg Five | Zurich, Switzerland & Innsbruck, Austria

On our last night in Lisbon, we were going to have dinner at midnight and chill on a patio and taxi to the airport for a 6AM TAP flight and maximize our Lisbon time and save some money by not getting a room for a couple of hours.  But when looking at flight options, we found it was better to try and leave on TAP in the evening.  Why?…  If we ended up not getting on the plane we would be “airside” and through security making it easier to sleep in the airport overnight and we would then be going for the 6AM flight to Zurich.  Also, if we make the flight, we will land at 11:30pm and our goal is to sleep “airside” in the Zurich Airport and leave in the morning.  This keeps 200CAD in my pocket since places in Zurich are quite expensive with last minute accommodation options.  Plus, who wants to book a room if you don’t know if you will make it on the flight.  So, by doing this, it will give us the full day tomorrow in Zurich and I found a place by the water for 131CAD for the night when planning the trip.

Zurich was just used as a gateway to the mountains.  Our goal was to take a train to Innsbruck to spend three nights in the mountains and the famous mountain coasters.  Video above shows us landing in Zurich and sleeping in the airport.  My daughter had no idea who “Bernie” was 😉

Zurich tip: Don’t buy anything from Starbucks or even pop which is crazy expensive.  TripAdvisor recommended eating at Manora which is a rooftop restaurant which had excellent food at a great price.  Also, we picked up the 24hr transit pass that allowed us to get into the city from the airport by train and all the trams and also the water shuttle that we used as a free river cruise.  Zurich was a quick stop for us and we had just the one full day.

 

 

The video above covers our train from Zurich to Innsbruck, Austria (23CAD pp).  We would spend three nights in a cool little AirBnB apartment for $62CAD per night.  Kids loved taking a train through the mountains.  Noah slept.  We had a little compartment all to ourselves, so Drizzy made it 4 of us.  After arriving in Innsbruck, we decided to get the Innsbruck Card that you can buy for 1, 2 or 3 days.  We decided to get the two day pass (65CAD pp) that gave us all trains and buses in the city and also the gondola for about 8 mountains to go up and a whack of museums and a free 3 hour bike rental.  You can google what the card will give you and show you what the normal price is.  To go up the mountain you see in the video above.  The cost of that alone would have been more than the cost of the Innsbruck card.

My Son was scared to go up the mountain.  We told him it was like winter up there and I packed him a jacket and long pants to change at the top to scare him.  I made him pack his sleeping bag in case we get stuck up there and would have to sleep overnight hugging the side of the mountain.  My Daughter was in on it with me.

Innsbruck is sweet.  It’s about a hour south of Munich by train.  The mountains are incredible.  In the video below you can see us going down the Mieders Alpine Slide (14CAD per ride) and the ride itself takes about 7 minutes to go down.  We bought 15 trips.  This trip was built around going to Austria to ride on these coasters.  My kids loved it and worth the money.  If you watch the video below… you will see that I almost was not allowed to ride it.

After three nights in Innsbruck, we had “train day” back to Prague to fly home.  We took a train to Vienna (4hrs + 30CAD pp) to stop and have a short 3hr layover for lunch.  Then we took another train (4hrs + 19CAD pp) to Prague to spend a night at the same hostel we stayed previously to start the trip.  We were sad to head back to Canada with our backpacks.  Our phones were full of photos and videos.  We went over “our story” of what we would tell the “Mom”.  She wouldn’t like us sleeping in airports.  40 open spots on Air Canada Rouge and they upgraded us to a row with more room.

We also talked about our next trip next year to Thailand and Vietnam to rent motorcycles and ride the countryside.