The Crash

Trip Start Jul 11, 2005
Trip End Apr 04, 2006

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Monday, September 12, 2005

If God had really intended men to fly, he'd make it easier to get to the airport

- George Winters

A special occasion
I don't normally include a Travelpod entry for bus journeys but this one was a tad special and had to get its own entry. And seen as I'm still alive to relive it I tho..... actually, it wasn't that bad.

I'm sure you've probably guessed from the title of this entry that our overnight bus crashed. Yep, crashed. I know Vietnamese roads and the drivers who use them are a bit... umm.... erratic, but I still never expected to be involved in any sort of 'incident'. I know some of you might be interested in the details because it's true that the only thing that interests others about ones travels is stories of disasters and accidents. So here goes. Buckle up.

The Details
Those who know me well know I have difficulty sleeping on buses (something about the sitting position and motion I guess). That's probably why overnight bus trips bug me so much. That and the fact that I get to look enviously at people who can sleep. So I was awake listening to music and noticing that the driver was weaving unnecessarily from one side of the road to the next for no apparent reason. Nothing alarming there as they seem to do that over here. 4:40am. Suddenly the bus veers to the right and we fall into a ditch, possibly 5-6 feet deep. The bus bounces along the wall of the ditch for about 10-20 meters producing chaos and deafening noise in the cabin. Because I was alert I could see the terrain ahead, including the ditch we found ourselves in, so I knew we were in no danger of anything bad happening, such as rolling over or, worse still, falling off a cliff! (without over dramatising the situation we found ourselves that was a distinct possibility as there were plenty in of cliffs in the area including a large one on the exact opposite side of the road to where the bus came to a rest). But others, who were asleep, including the boys and most of the bus, were unawares that we were not in any real danger so while we were bouncing along the ditch there were a lot of nervous screams as people woke up in the midst of us bouncing along the ditch. Pretty scary. For a split second. I guess the driver weaved too far to the right (which incidentally he had no need to do as we were supposed to be driving on the right anyway), lost the wheels in the ditch and the rest of the bus just followed. Needless to say we all just wanted out once the bus had come to a stop. But the door couldn't be opened as it was resting against the ditch. So we all had to clamber out the little windows on the other side, the road side, of the bus. It was funny really, in a strange sort way. So there we all were, standing on the side of this highway in central Vietnam at 5am, about 3 hours from Nha Trang. The worst part, probably even worse than the crash itself, was how the Vietnamese bus staff members handled the situation. They never once tried to communicate to us what was happening, if there was another bus coming to collect us, where the nearest town was etc. And they refused to open the luggage doors on the bus to allow us get our bags. Eventually after a lot of foreigners started shouting (there were a lot of, unlike me, argumentative foreigners on the bus, mostly Israelis) they opened the doors and we stood on the side of the road waiting for local busses to come along and take us to the nearest town which, amazingly, the buss staff guys tried to stop us doing. We eventually hopped on a local bus for a 20 minute trip to the nearest town where a group of about 8 of us managed to charter a minibus the rest of the way to Nha Trang. We arrived about 2 hours later than the bus was scheduled to arrive so that wasn't too bad considering the delay for the crash and the tyre change we had to stop for earlier in the night.

Talking Point
An eventful night indeed, I'm sure you'll agree. And now we have something to talk about regarding the normally boring, nondescript bus trip from Hoi An to Nha Trang. Pat and Dave. Good choice for getting the bus guys. Any regrets?
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