Number of Questions: 40

DIRECTIONS for Questions 41 to 80: Read the passages and answer the questions based on them.


On a Saturday afternoon in late May 1993, I flew north from Ho Chi Minh City - the former Saigon - to Hanoi on a Vietnam Airlines Tupolev 134B-3. A Soviet-built mid-range jetliner, the airplane had a proletarian blue and white exterior, but the cabin hinted of something different. Hand carved, darkly varnished cabinets in the forward bulkhead and circular portholes beside the seats created the illusion of an Art Deco sky-going yacht. It would have been the perfect setting for the opening scene in a remake of Lost Horizon, updated to jet but retaining an austere, 1930s panache.

That brief echo from one of the great survival classics was the first clue to what lay just ahead. A twice recycled boarding pass directed me to Seat 1A. In the Tupolev, all four positions in the first row allow a scant five inches between the seat and the polished wall. This was going to be a problem.

The cabin was stifling. When at long last all the passengers were seated and the boarding ladder had been rolled away, the air conditioning system erupted. Billows of frosty air blew down diagonally from spigots in the ceiling and crisscrossed in the aisle. In moments the windows were opaque and the walls ran with condensed moisture. Shangri-la had vanished in the vapour.

But the flight attendants were beautiful, dressed in powder blue skirts, stylized neckties, and impeccably white blouses. It was a minor matter that not one of them knew a word of English, or that when a friendly translator in the next seat asked about the type of airplane, they told him they didn.t know. All the smoking and seatbelt signs, at least, were in Vietnamese and English; until a few months before, the second language had been Russian. One of the smiling attendants emerged from the mist with Saigon Coke. It tasted like the old soft drink Moxie.

Ten minutes into the flight, the vapour dispersed, the porthole cleared, and far below the airplane, smoke from farms and factories rose up to join the general haze. To the left, the mountains drifted off toward Cambodia in folds of green and purple velvet. Here and there, patches of more brilliant green suggested rainforest, and one imagined tigers. The landscape was so vast and serene it was hard to reconcile it with the labour that took place there building and traversing the Ho Chi Minh Trail. From 25,000 feet there were no signs of the war, nothing to connect this land to remembered images of the long-ago struggle, the noise, the suffering, the terrible assault on the earth that made a moonscape of the DMZ. Now it all appeared to be washed over with new growth and salved by the haze of heat and altitude and time.

The Tupolev flew over the long barrier beaches north of Hue, where the river waters flowing down from the Annam Cordillera are filtered in the tidal marshes before they mix with the South China Sea. Then the shore bends inward toward the west, nearing the narrowest section of this hourglass country, and the jetliner headed out over the Tonkin Gulf.

I visited Hanoi two and a half years ago to observe discussions between Vietnam Airlines and Continental, one of several U.S. airlines then exploring business opportunities with the Vietnamese flag carrier. Even before President Clinton lifted the trade embargo in February 1994, Continental, Northwest, Delta, United, and American had all sent representatives to Vietnam, each hoping to share with VNA the traffic that would be possible between the two countries once diplomatic relations were normalized. Which of the U.S. carriers will prevail, however, depends not only on VNA.s preference but on a tangle of bureaucratic procedures.

First, the number of routes available must be determined by negotiations between the Vietnamese aviation authority and the U.S. departments of state and transportation. Once that number has been announced, the airlines will file applications with the DOT, and the department will either make a ruling or send the case to an administrative law judge for a recommendation. The process is long and complicated, but so is the establishment of a business relationship with a state-owned institution in a communist country. So the American executives started laying the groundwork for cooperation in 1992, and they found through the course of their negotiations that both sides had a lot to learn.

41. The author of the passage could be any of the following except:

(1) A professional belonging to the airline industry
(2) A bureaucrat belonging to the aviation and transportation ministry
(3) An executive belonging to an airline company
(4) An aircraft engineer

42. The Tupolev aircraft was built by:

(1) The Vietnamese
(2) Continental
(3) The Soviets
(4) None of these

43. It can be inferred from the passage that .Lost Horizon. was a/an:

(1) Name of World War II aircraft
(2) Movie
(3) Yacht
(4) None of these

44. It can be inferred from the passage that the author.s opinion about the Tupolev aircraft was:

(1) Appreciative
(2) Negative
(3) Disinterested
(4) Uninterested

45. The journey mentioned in the passage was undertaken in the year:

(1) 1930 (2) 1993 (3) 1994 (4) 1992

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