If you know me, you know that OneNote is, by far, my favorite Office program. It’s not that I don’t love (and probably use more) the ever-present Outlook, but it’s OneNote that is so versatile, so flexible. and frankly, a lot of fun. So when the “Around the World in 40 Days” project launched, I was immediately smitten.
In a nutshell, this is what the project is: 40 bloggers write about traveling to a world city within the scope of a OneNote “TripBook.” Then you can download the city (or cities) of your choice, and when you open up the notebooks in OneNote 2010 or 2007, you get sections and pages regarding where to stay, where to eat, places to play, and more. And those sections are really just suggestions; it’s YOU who makes that notebook about your dream trip come alive.
One of the reasons I’m writing this post is that one of the TripBooks that are available for download is for Hanoi, Vietnam. As many of you know (if you’ve been following me for more than a few years), I have a daughter whom I adopted from Vietnam in 2002; she’s almost 9 years old now. We’ve been planning a trip back to Vietnam for quite some time now, and it’s been a little overwhelming. Where to start? How to get around the country? Where to go? Where to stay? What to do? Of course I had some ideas about it all because of the two trips I took there in 2002, but I was in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) and didn’t really get to leave that city (what with a child who wasn’t technically “mine” yet). So now we’re both terribly excited and thrilled to be going. And the research has begun.
Our plan is to travel the length of the entire dragon-shaped country by train, bike, by hoofing it, and even by hitchhiking. The people of Vietnam are unbelievably friendly and gracious, and I want my daughter to know the people she comes from. My Vietnam TripBook was written by the blogger Amanda Doan (Self Sagacity.com), and her TripBook offered facts (and opinions) of the city itself, links to book your stay at the swanky Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel, and ideas of what to eat and what to do. It’s also filled with images of Amanda and her fiancé within the city, surrounded by the things she writes about.
I’ve decided to take what Amanda started, add some more pages to the Hanoi trip (the five-star Sofitel probably doesn’t fit within my budget), and then create new sections for other regions and cities such as Hue on the central coast, Dalat in the central highlands, and Vung Tau and Ho Chi Minh City in the south. And of course a couple of days on the Mekong Delta (also known as the “rice basket” of Vietnam) are a must.
Whatever trip you want to take and however you plan it, I highly recommend starting with one of these OneNote TripBooks. They’re organized in a straightforward way, they’re free, and they and leave a lot of room for your own notes and ideas. And remember: If you don’t want to lug your laptop around the country, there’s always your SkyDrive, where your notebooks are always at hand, whether on your phone or perhaps from one of the many Internet cafés that Vietnam has.