Saturday, 20 July 2013

32 Hour Bus - Better than expected!

This morning we were out of the hotel by 11am and went to Gary’s bar, my favourite bar in Vang Vieng, and I had a cumberland sausage baguette. It was a total let down but I had a really nice chat with the bar tender as nobody else was around. He was telling me the only reason some bars are still allowed on tubing are because they are above the police, not the mafia but on a similar level. The police really respect the guy that runs the bar. He reckons in october, peak season, more bars will open but it’ll never get back to what it used to be, which in a way he’s thankful for because so many broken bones and dead teenagers :(. We then went and got stocked up on food for the trip, and went back to the hotel to wait for the mini bus. We changed all of our Lao money because we were told it was very hard in Vietnam as nobody wants the currency.
**Update, hour 6, 7pm**.
We left at 1pm and well I’m petrified and unable to control my laughter at the same time. We’ve just boarded our sleeper bus after enduring 4 hours of a mini bus driver who thought he was in grand theft auto and had infinite lives. I’ve never been so scared, his driving was reckless I wanted to pee myself. He overtook everything in sight and drove so fast. At times he squeezed between vehicles and motorbikes with a cm to spare, I seriously thought he was going to kill someone.
We got a tuk tuk to the bus station and saw lots of Vientiane along the way. For the capital, its seriously run down, really dodgy areas.  Its really sad because there were a few really beautiful buildings, all government owned by the looks of it. Must be a lot of corruption because they were the only nice areas, its clear where all their money goes! When we arrived at the bus station we stood around in a lost haze, staring around in the rain wondering what the hell to do until we were allowed to board the bus. When on the bus, we had no idea where we were supposed to be sitting. Nobody spoke English and all just stared at us as we’re the only white non-asians in the entire bus station. Eventually someone understood what we were asking and showed us to our seats. I say seats, I mean bed cubicle things. They are not made for fat people or people like me who have long legs. They are kind of propped up seats with a box at the bottom to put all your valuables in and your feet. That’s one thing I resent, having to carry anything valuable I have on me at all times wherever we go and keep a constant eye on your stuff. A man at the full moon party was telling me how some guy grabbed his penis, as he reacted, he was so focused on his penis that the man stole his iphone out of his pocket! Sneaky people.
Anyway, back to the bus, there’s about 50 people on here, and some clearly paid less for a ticket as they’re just laying in the aisle and you have to jump over them as there is little space to move anyway. I went to the toilet on board and almost vomited, there was urine all over the floor. It was a western toilet thank god, but still totally vile, I had to squat over the toilet anyway! I agree with Joe, going to the toilet on third world transport should be an olympic sport, such a difficult challenge, not half as bad as the ones on the over night train though. Vomit central. Ugh. But, I can’t complain, this is a pretty snazzy bus. The TV screen is directly in front of us but unfortunately they’re only playing Vietnamese music videos which are so cheesy and all the same, its also so noisy I had to put ear plugs in and it still hardly masks the noise.
**Update, hour 20, 9am**
I’m relieved to say it definitely doesn’t feel like we’ve been travelling for twenty hours but I think that’s all down to my new best friend valium. I don’t know what I would have done without it! I took two when I got on board, slept till 1am where we pulled into this lay by and then the driver went to sleep for a bit, but turned off the engine so I couldn’t sleep I was boiling hot! That many people on a bus without air conditioning is hell. Anyway, an hour later we set off again and I fell asleep till 6:30am when we arrived at the border and had to all get off.
As usual, nobody helped Olivia or I, we walked round like lost puppies, confused and again, with everyone speaking to us and chatting in Vietnamese or lao. The border was only just opening so there were huge queues. Men kept pointing us in random directions and trying to talk to us with little luck. We were surrounded by people pushing us around trying to get to the window to hand their passport to get their departure stamp from laos so they could get an arrival stamp from Vietnam. After a lot of confusion, we got ours back and wandered around lost looking for our bus or the Vietnam stamp. We ended up having to walk a few hundred meters up and down hill through some muddy construction work before we were at our destination.
Its weird that in order to get the new stamp you have to bribe them, give them an extra dollar, otherwise they wont do it. Hello corruption. Anyway, after we stood around for a bit longer, tired and stressed, still clueless what to do. I was slightly panicking as we still couldn’t find our bus, eventually it pulled up and  threw all our bags out, we had to take them to a scanner, but I have no idea how they could tell if there was anything dodgy in peoples bags because they were all thrown on, no queue, no order. We could have got away with not scanning it at all. Our hand luggage wasn’t checked either. Just chaos. Our bus then got searched for a while and we were herded around like sheep, pointed in every direction. Eventually sat on the floor and awaited to re-board the bus finally, 2.5 hours later and a hell of a lot of stress. We both smell so bad, yuck. Not to mention everything is muddy. Oh well…. not long left. The sights out the window re so beautiful its hypnotising, makes time pass a lot faster.
**Update, hour 24, 1pm**
I just slept the whole time again, as I’m sure I will do in a minute. Everyone just got off for lunch but we stupidly have no money and there’s no ATM, so we stayed on the bus and he locked us in! So we’re boiling to death right now. Thank god there’s not long left. Its actually gone far better than expected but if it hadn’t been for valium, right now id probably be crying my eyes out having a break down!
**Update 8:30pm**
Overall, the journey wasn’t half as bad as I had expected. Worst case, I’d probably do it once a month if I had to. It wasn’t so painful because I just slept. Being awake for that long though would kill me.
The Street Hanoi Backpackers is on.
We got a tuk tuk from the bus station but were really weary about being ripped off, it worked out fine though, about 3 pounds each. Most expensive one we’ve got but it took us to the right place and it was A/C taxi and it was actually a really far journey. 
Finally arrived at our hostel, Hanoi backpackers, the nicest one we’ve been to by far. It’s huge, so clean and very spacious and the toilets aren’t a mess and yeah. It makes me so happy. They also gave us a free beer on arrival. It has a rooftop bar and happy hours with 2 4 1 vodka and mixer for a pound. Also free beer from 3pm - 4:30pm every Sunday (which is a shame because we just missed it).
We went up to the rooftop bar but everyone was too drunk already it was kind of annoying, so we decided to go for dinner at 10pm, went just across the road, then chilled back in the room. I argued with Matthew (no change), and eventually just fell asleep.

1 comment:

  1. Hanoi Old Quarters offers a lot of things for foreigners. One stop shop for all your needs. A place where you find everything. A little bit pricey because most of the people who stayed here are foreigners.