Experiencing life through a bus window

Trip Start Jul 22, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Friday, January 14, 2011

Time to move on. Up at 8 am, pack-up, then grab a taxi to the bus station.

I walk downstairs to the main level and I find KIm, Adrian and Chris asleep on the couch. What goes? I'm quite sure I heard them in the room coming back from the bar at 3 am. When I woke up after that I never did hear the girls stirring in their bunks. They wake up and tell me they decided to watch a movie and then sleep on the bus. They never did watch the whole movie. Which movie? 2012...the same movie that was being watched the morning I arrived.

I head out to the store & bakery for some breakfast items and snacks for the bus ride. I get back to the hostel and Mary is already waiting to go catch a taxi to the bus station. It's not even 9 am yet. She heads out to try and find one. A taxi won't take more then 20 minutes. I eat my breakfast, get my packs and head out to meet Mary. She's waiting by the entrance to the complex where the hostel is located. I arrive, we walk to the street and I notice a taxi stopping and dropping some people off. Perfect timing. We have our taxi. Isn't my life amazing?

At the bus station and Mary shows me her ticket. She's sitting next to me. About 15 minutes later the others arrive. We check their tickets. They're also sitting with us. Now that's odd. I bought my ticket at the station. Mary bought hers through the hostel (she paid a commission so that they would get it for her) and the others purchased theirs at a travel office. What are the odds of us all sitting together?

On the bus and two hours later we're almost at the Vietnam border. We stop for lunch. We get hassled to buy some Vietnam money and cell phone sim cards. Some of think about it but decide against it as the odds are that the money is counterfeit and the sim cards won't work.

Through Chinese immigration to exit the country and then through Vietnam immigration without a problem. Now that was easy! We had to walk across the border. Another bus is waiting for us in Vietnam. The road in China was a high speed expressway. The roads in Vietnam are completely different. Slower two lane, buildings, towns and twisty, curving roads. The scenery is amazing. But the going is slow. We have 170 kms to Hanoi. It takes a long time to do that distance.

We arrive in the outskirts of Hanoi and it's dark now. Traffic is almost at a standstill. We finally arrive somewhere where we are told it's the end of the line. It's basically a street corner. No bus station for this route. Four or five guys are already hassling us to be our taxi driver. One guy grabs my bag when I say I'll go with him. I didn't even have a chance to say goodbye to the others.

I have a map of the "old town" and know "approximately" where the hostel is. It's easy to know we are close because there's a big lake in the middle of old town. We go around the lake and then the driver heads off in what seems to me as the wrong direction. We make a long detour before he drops me off about a block from the hostel. It's a one way street and he can't get any closer without going around once more. I get out and walk. I've barely walked 20 metros when I hear my name being called. At the corner of the street is a woman from the hostel in Nanning who took the 9am bus. We had chatted earlier there. She's from Winnipeg teaching in China. What are the odds of running into her?

Check into the hostel then decide to go exploring and try and find a camera store for a new lens. This place is NUTS! Thousands and thousands of scooters zooming around in every direction between people walking and cars, trucks and buses. You can't walk on the sidewalk because the scooters that aren't zooming are parked on them. And so, everybody is in the street. Check out the video I took on another day. And this is a tame corner compared to other intersections I've barely survived.

Back at the hostel and I'm on a hostel computer (only way to access Facebook) when Kim, Adrian, and Chris show up. Their hostel is at the other end of town. They've been out exploring and having supper when they stumble upon where I'm staying. They're looking for a bar. I had seen some and so we head out.

First evening in Vietnam over.
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