So recently I spent almost 3 weeks in Asia for international tournaments. I went to Vietnam and Japan with spending some brief time in Korea.
The flight to Vietnam was a long one taking me 24 hours to get there; I had to transfer in Vancouver and in Seoul, Korea. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get an upgrade to executive first on my flight from Vancouver to Seoul so that meant 9 hours in economy class (not the worst I know). I was able to sleep on the plane according to the time in Vietnam as to try and avoid whatever effects of jet lag that I could which did work to my advantage a bit.
The first stop on the tour was to Hanoi, Vietnam for the 2012 Vietnam International Challenge March 26-31. I was originally in qualification with just 1 person above me in qualification but due to some last minute withdrawals I was bumped up to main draw. There was 128 men's singles players present at the tournament. The greater majority were from Asia with a few from Europe (Slovakia, Russia, Italy, etc) and me the only player from the Pan American region.
The tournament started the Monday with qualifications but I didnt have to play a match until Wednesday. I didnt get into Hanoi until Saturday night pretty much Sunday morning though. I was only able to hit in the main stadium hall for 30 minutes of which 10 minutes or so of that was trying to find somebody to have a hit with. After I found somebody it was a different expirence hitting in such a large venue the depth perception was not helped by the giant stadium lights which made it impossible to see the shuttle when looking left or right.
After practicing at the stadium Sunday I would not be able to play in it again until my match on Wednesday which was not ideal. I met a friend in Vietnam (Quang) and he took me to a local hall to play which was nice I was able to adjust to the shuttle speed and everything. Shuttles at the tournament and playing in general felt a lot heavier and very different than playing in Calgary. Wednesday came around and my match was scheduled to be on the TV court (Court number 2) but the matches were delayed quite a bit so an hour and a half after my match was scheduled to go on the match before me was still on court 2 so they moved my match to court 3.
I played a player 14th seed from South Africa and it was an interesting game. In the 1st set I was completely shell shocked I could keep a rally but simply could not win the points. In the 2nd set I felt a lot better and started to settle a little more into my game playing the net and winning some points there. I felt alright moving and playing the net but anything that went up I didn’t feel comfortable hitting down and attacking that was ultimately my downfall.
After that I was knocked out of the tournament in round of 64, I got to watch all the rest of the matches including finals which was amazing. As well I went out a few more times to play with my friends at the local hall they played at and met even more amazing people. I got to play against a former Vietnam International player as well, she was still very talented. In the mornings there was a training hall and I was invited to train there with the Vietnamese players that were no longer in the tournament that was a great experience.
The food in Vietnam was great, I had Pho of course but there were quite a few cafes on my street which served fruit drinks and food as well. It would cost about $2 Canadian for a meal and $1.50 for a fresh fruit smoothie which was delicious. So I was able to eat all that as well as experienced many unique Vietnamese foods as well when going out with my friends that I made there.
For some reason the hotel Wi-Fi did not work for me during the day and would only work in the lobby as there was no Wi-Fi in the room’s only LAN cable. I brought only my Toshiba tablet so I could only use Wi-Fi for that. Anytime after the hours of 11pm and 7am the Wi-Fi in the hotel lobby would work for me. So I spent a lot of nights in the lobby after I was knocked out on my tablet catching up with people or doing some school work or simply browsing the internet. The guards got very familiar with me and one night we all sat together watching a soccer match on the TV. Although we didn’t understand each other we all shared the common bond for the love of the game and it was a great time. I also got to watch a lot of badminton on TV both in my room and on the TV in the lobby as well which was incredibly nice. Not many English shows were on but there were a few.
I did get to do some sightseeing in Vietnam; I made it out to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum which was only about a 15ish minute walk from my hotel. Walked around that entire area and saw all the government buildings and monuments that were dedicated to Ho Chi Minh. As well walking around the area near my hotel seeing a lot of stuff for sure. I ran into tons of players from the tournament that went exploring through the city and made some friends to browse with and have lunches with (mostly Indonesian and Malaysian players). The weather was nice, it was around 28 degrees Celsius but it didn’t feel hot at all which was both nice and not as nice. I left Calgary which had snow hoping for some sun and heat but can’t complain I was happy for the week without snow.
The time soon came to leave Hanoi, Vietnam and make my way to Osaka, Japan for the Osaka International Challenge. Overall I enjoyed my time in Hanoi, Vietnam the city was great and the people were friendly and amazing. I would go back in a heartbeat.