After arriving in Tokyo, we had to rush through the airport to make our second flight. Side note: The Japanese were quite efficient at receiving us and ensuring we made our connection. They had a list of all the people and checked them off as we got out of the plane. Then a girl escorted us (at the pace she was going, it felt like we were in a walking race) to our gate. She and other airline employees were wearing a navy outfit, with a blue scarf around the neck and perfect hair. At security, the girls there wore red with funny little hats. Everyone we met bowed to us. They seemed all very nice.
At the gate was a roomful of Vietnamese people waiting for our flight. That is when it finally dawned on me: I was going to Vietnam and be among these people for six months. This is for real. I didn’t have quite this feeling on my first flight, full of Japanese people.
I also realized that I have a pretty narrow view of Vietnamese people, based primarily on my mother, family and friends. I don’t think they reflect all Vietnamese people. If anything, they reflect those who have left Vietnam, but millions remained; even though they share a common background, they also have big differences. I guess I will have a chance to find out who Vietnamese people are in the next few months.