Day Three – First Time at the Factory
Duyen picked me up from my hotel at 09:30 Thursday morning, and we made our way to the factory. Though it’s not a long distance to get to the factory, it takes close to an hour with the traffic. Now when I say traffic, I mean mostly scooters and small motorcycles, as they far outnumber the four-wheeled vehicles on the roads!
Everywhere I looked it was just scooter after scooter! The people who ride them appear to be fearless, zipping in and out of places that often made me cringe and wait for a collision. Surprisingly, I saw no accidents of any kind! At any given time, there was a scooter, car, or bus within inches of our car – Duyen handled it all with a calmness that I could never compose.
We finally made it to the factory, and a security guard greeted us and opened the gate. We drove in and went to the conference room. There were a lot of very ornate wood and stone pieces, and many live plants as well! Outside the windows, I could see that we were in what we would call an industrial park. Lots of manufacturing facilities making many different products. There was also ample vegetation everywhere I looked, breaking up the buildings and adding to the landscape. This was when I met Duyen’s longtime friend Catrina. She lives in the US and travels to see Duyen a few times a year. It was very nice to finally meet Catrina, as she had helped me get everything in order for my trip.
I felt honored that the small gift I had brought her made its way onto the shelf with the beautiful artwork. My wife had created a wood burnt bamboo cutting board as a one-of-a-kind gift for Duyen. Now, a small piece of Minnesota resides in her factory, and we couldn’t be happier about that!
I took a few photos of some of her current aircraft on display in the showroom. Some are older designs still in production, while some of them are brand new, releasing yet this year! At this point, we had to leave the factory to head over to the convention center for a little indoor flying practice for the celebration on Saturday.
A hand full of us were there to get in a little ‘stick time’ in the convention center. I have to admit, that due to the windy and wet conditions in Minnesota, I had not flown yet in 2018. So, you can imagine how anxious I was when I learned that I would be flying the E-flite UMX P-47 inside for the celebration! Typically designed for small outdoor areas, the UMX P-47 runs on a 2S LiPo battery. It’s pretty heavy, and doesn’t like to fly very slow! I did find a good flying speed that kept the plane just above stall speed and still able to fly in a small space, but not before running the P-47 into one of the chandeliers hanging from the ceiling… To say the least, I was a bit embarrassed, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly. With practice done, it was time to head back to my hotel room for a quick shower and a little downtime before dinner.
They picked me up for dinner at 19:00 hrs (7 PM), and we went to an upscale Vietnamese buffet. This place was beautiful! This was where I first met some of Duyen’s other guests for the celebration. S K Tan was a rep from Singapore, and he was a very funny guy! He was entertaining with his stories and made everyone laugh. The other guests were Mike and Janine O’Reilly representing Australia for the week. Their company, ModelFlight, is the Aussie dealer for Seagull Models. Mike and I hit it off right away, and had a good time sharing stories from ‘back home’. Janine is a wonderful woman, very soft-spoken and sweet. they were both a joy to meet and share company with on this trip! Also joining us for dinner were Duyen’s two children, and Catrina. We all had a great time! I tried a lot of new foods as well – some were delicious, and some not so much. I was glad it was a buffet, and I could take just a taste of the foods without committing to an entire plate! Still suffering a bit from jet lag, I was happy to get back to my hotel after dinner and get some much-needed sleep!