Overnight bus rant

Trip Start Sep 20, 2010
Trip End Dec 18, 2011

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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Warning: If you don't want to hear me rant move onto the Hanoi entry!

Our journey to Hanoi was a little interesting/horrific.  Now the reason we see it this way could just be because we’ve been unusually lucky so far in our transport experiences on this trip because there have been no real crashes, delays, breakdowns etc.  Some may say that we’re finally experiencing real travelling and in that way it was a good thing.  However we don’t feel like that and liked our luck up until then!! Instead of going back to Hue after the DMZ tour our Hue-Hanoi bus was actually booked to pick us up in Dong Ha – 70 km north of Hue.  When we booked it we were told 7pm, however the guy who dropped us off there said it would be around 6.  Although we were convinced he had no clue we were still a bit worried so were sat outside from 5.45pm.  At around 7.30pm we started to get worried – I was quite impressed with our control although we put it in reason and assumed the time was supposed to be 7pm and it was really only 30 minutes late and not 90 minutes late.  Kevin called the people we booked the ticket through at around 7.45pm who sounded worried and asked us to call back in 5 minutes.  Kevin did and apparently the bus was late leaving Hue and would be with us in 15 minutes.  At this stage I would like to defend ourselves to people who would say 30 minutes isn’t really late.  Although in most cases we would agree the problem was that we didn’t even know we were in the right place! Right town, sure.  But nothing was open, no one was around and it wasn’t obvious that buses regularly pick people up from the address we were given.  So anyway at 8.30 still no bus.  I was obviously agitated by now because I wasn’t convinced still that we were in the right place as we hadn’t had a reassuring answer on that.  Kevin called again.  The booking place seemed worried.  However whilst we were waiting for them to call us back miraculously a bus showed up.  Woohoo we don’t have to stay in Dong Ha! The bus driver rushed us onto the bus and went to the back supposedly looking for a bed for us and then turned round, put a mat on the floor in the aisle and said 'no seat you sleep here’.  My response was ‘Not a chance. I’ve paid $16 (each) for this bus you had better get me a seat on this or another bus’.  After my initial response I handed the complaining over to Kevin – far more tactful than me! Now again in defense to any hardcore traveller readers who want to give us abuse for this and not just getting on the floor, this was a tourist bus booked in advance, your name is on a list so they know how many people they have, and its expensive.  If we had booked for $5 under the knowledge our bed would be the floor, fine, we can rough it, but this is just simple double booking of a very expensive seat at our expense.  Kevin’s initial plan was to talk nonstop to the guy all night until he either got us a bed, another bus, or gave us a phone call.  Eventually the guy called his boss and Kevin had a word with her.  She told us we would get a bed in 2 hours when someone got off.  As this still meant a fifth of the journey on the floor Kevin tactfully suggested they should give us $6 back.  We got $5.  Victory…or so we thought.  So we settled ourselves on the floor for 2 hours.  3 hours.  At around 4 hours the driver who was asleep on the floor (there are 2 of them) got repeated kicks from Kevin but wouldn’t wake up, even when he was poked in the face a few times.  After 5.5 hours we stopped for the drivers to eat and they got a tirade of abuse from Kevin.  He didn’t really understand much English but seemed to deny ever saying 2 hours and started saying ‘5am’.  Needless to say we weren’t happy.  We were also very tired and had achy hips etc.  At around 4.30am a lady got up and I got a seat.  30 minutes later Kevin got one when someone else less.  The irony is we found the sleeper seats less comfortable than the floor!

Sorry for the rant.  Thanks for listening :)
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