Trip from Hell via Thanh Hoa

Trip Start Sep 03, 2007
Trip End Jul 03, 2008

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Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Monday, October 1, 2007

Hey everyone this is just a quick input to describe our journey from hell in to Vietnam!!!

We got up at 6am in Viang Xai on the Border of Loas and Vietnam!  Our Aim was to take the less travelled border crossing Nameo. In order to ge there we had to get a small pickup style van to the border which we achieved after 3 different attempts. (My dream came true and I got to take public transport with live chickens and ducks!!!) We arrived at a very quiet border crossing and after some relaxed baggages checks we got to Nameo. Firstly we dicovered that buses to Hanoi do not leave on a Monday and in order to get to Hanoi we had to get lifts on Mopeds (with Backpacks and no helmets) for 65km to the next town... This was going to cost us 10 dollars each. We decided that if that was all we could do then so be it. THe ride actually turned out to be great fun and we managed to arrive on time for the bus and in one piece. The drivers were very careful and we thought maybe our opinion of Vietnam drivers would change....

On arrival at the town we we ushered into a mechanics shop and surrounded by 6 guys and told that there was only 1 bus to Hanoi and it was going to cost 30 dollars each! Well this we knew was completely untrue but in the circumstances and after some words decided we had to take this option.

So at 1.15 we boarded a rather tatty bus for our trip to Hanoi. If you look at the map then it isn't that far. But alas we were in Vietnam and had already firmly imprinted mugs on our foreheads and as we boarded (having already paid 40 dollars of the 60) they apparently changed the destination to Thanh Hoa. We later learnt that we were to change bus there to get to Hanoi! (The pin point for this blog highlights the detour!) Now in UK the buses are slow and I would say on the whole safe. Not in Vietnam. Our driver thought he was a character out of an action film and his two buddies thought that egging him on quite amusing! So off down 1 car width roads on mountainous routes we tore off at about 60 mph with the horn blowing. In vietnam it seems that the bus rules the road. If you happen to be on it when it goes past then bad luck... One old lady and her cows found this out when she was driven into the ditch and her cows chased down the road! Anyway half way through this journey we realised our error amd at 5pm we ended up about 4 hours south of Hanoi! We decided that out of principal we would not take the next leg of the journey. So off we trekked with our backpacks much to the annoyance of the driver who was missing his cut of the deal. After about 20 mins the driver actually found us and forced us back on to the bus and on our way north.

On the bus we decided to ask a girl the real value of the trip. It was half what we were paying. When the ticket guy found out he grilled the girl for messing up his plans. We unfortunately didn't have any money so on arrival at Hanoi the bus was cleared and we were driven to the ATM where we were made to draw the 200,000 dong. Caroline decided to make a stand and gave him 100,000 (the true price) The ticket guy thought that I looked like the weaker of the two and started to shout. I was in silent mode as was getting very angry and maybe a little aggressive. We decided to end the drama and pay. However it was not over. Stuck 5 km out side the town centre about 50 taxi and motorbikes set on us and pestered us... I very nearly had had enough! In the end we got into a taxi (metered) and got the apparent 15km drive in for 118,00 dong. He decided that from 200,000 dong no change was expected. After pressing he gave 50,000 back, then after more pressing another 20,000 and so forth till we finally got our money!

Found a nice little guesthouse and settled in for a beer. but not a great start to our vietnamese adventure!
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