Photo Courtesy Beto O'Rourke

O’Rourke joins President, Fellow Lawmakers on trip to Vietnam

After an invitation from President Obama, Congressman Beto O’Rourke and a handful of fellow legislators made their way to Southeast Asia for a first-hand tour of the region.

Via his Facebook page, O’Rourke outlined the trip and is posting updates on his travels there. In addition to visiting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the tour will include other Asian countries.

O’Rourke added, “I welcome this opportunity to learn more about the conditions in Vietnam and how trade impacts Southeast Asia and the United States.”

Below is an update on day one of the congressman’s long journey to Southeast Asia, including a chance meeting with Chef and World Food Traveler Anthony Bourdain.

We took off from Andrews Air Force Base at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. It’s now 8:33 a.m. Monday morning in Hanoi, Vietnam and I’m having breakfast in the hotel restaurant. Eggs and noodles. The coffee is good here.

Photo: With Senator Tom Carper on Air Force One
Photo: With Senator Tom Carper on Air Force One

It was a really special experience to fly over on Air Force One, but it was a really long trip. 8 hours to Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska. Another 8 to Japan. And then 6 to Vietnam. The President came back towards the end of the flight and told me and my colleagues, Congressman Joaquin Castroand Senator Tom Carper, that this was the longest flight he’d taken in his presidency.

It’s a big crew that travels with the President. Aides and advisors like his National Security Advisor Susan Rice and his Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes. Press folks, foreign trade people, security detail, doctors, cooks, attendants, etc. We sat in a nice section, two tables, four of us to a table. You could make calls from your seat. I called Amy and my mom and a good family friend.

We landed in Vietnam last night, drove back with a team from the embassy to the hotel and tried to sleep. Ran into Anthony Bourdain at the hotel bar. Told him I was a fan of his book Kitchen Confidential and just saw him in the Big Short which I watched on the plane. Up at 5:30 a.m. and went for a run in the gym, tried to call the family.

Now for a day that will involve some events with the President and some on our own.