Sometimes at the beginning of a flight segment Mrs. Clinton will come to the press section to chat for a bit. It's all off the record. There are also some background briefings on the various stops by State Department officials also on board.
Our first stop was Paris. We flew during the day which meant we arrived at our hotel after midnight. It's very frustrating to be in Paris when you arrive so late and you have to check out by 8 am. The US government can usually negotiate a good rate at foreign hotels. Not in Paris.
My room at the Westin Place Vendome cost $1,000 a night and it was nothing special. The four hours of sleep I got came to $250 an hour. At least breakfast was included.
By evening we were on our way from Paris to Kabul, a stop we could not make public until we arrived there. The security situation in Afghanistan is not good. We had to ride in armored vans, each one with a security agent in the passenger seat holding a machine gun in his hands. You must go through several armed checkpoints to get to the US Embassy, NATO headquarters and the Presidential palace.
We didn't spend the night there, instead heading off to Tokyo. It was along first two days of the trip. From Thursday to Sunday most of us only got a few hours sleep.
The events in Tokyo go off as planned. We stayed two nights at the hotel which means we had an opportunity to get laundry done. Only two times on this trip did we stay more than one night in a hotel. So you plan your packing on where you will be able to do laundry.
Next stop, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, where the TV pool faces its first problem. Mrs. Clinton was to make a big speech to a women's group. One of the guards at the Government House noticed our camerawoman was wearing jeans and sneakers, both prohibited in such an important place.
There was no way he was going to let her in. In a bit of quick thinking one of the State Department staffers had her carry-on bag in the motorcade that contained pajamas and a pair of slippers. So after a dash to the car and a quick change the jeans and sneakers are replaced by pajama bottoms and a pair of slippers two and a half sizes too big. She's in.
Where did we eat in Mongolia? A British pub, of course. It turns out that the Mongolian beef barbecue we think of in the US is not available in Mongolia. So the Embassy recommended a British pub near our hotel, owned by a Scotsman and managed by an American. It was a great experience but certainly one we never expected to have in Mongolia.
The next day we're off to Hanoi. I had been there once before a few years ago. If you're old enough to remember the Vietnam War, like I am, there's a certain feeling that comes over you when you first go there. My camerawoman had lost friends in the Vietnam War. Landing in Hanoi was something she had never expected to do in her lifetime. She had tears in her eyes as the plane touched down.
Mrs. Clinton made an otherwise un-newsworthy speech to the American Chamber of Commerce in Hanoi. It was the end of another long day and almost near the end of her speech Mrs. Clinton began a coughing fit that would not stop. She had to end her speech early.
Later, as I looked through the video of the speech to decide which parts to feed back to the US, I felt the coughing fit was good television so I sent it along with the other news elements of the day. It was the only piece of video that got used in America.