The Journey From Hell
Trip Start Jan 24, 2009
138Trip End Dec 08, 2009
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Got collected from our guest house at 5pm and dropped off at the main bus station only to find out that the bus didn't actually leave until 7pm. We were in a group of 5 - one guy from Kerry and a couple from Sweden. As we were one of the first there all our bags were put in the luggage compartment of the bus. Told to get on the bus and get our seats only to find that the aisle was filled with huge sacks of rice and the footwell of each seat had 3-4 pallets of carnation milk in it (clearly that's why you don't see it in Europe any more as it's all going between Laos and Vietnam by bus!). When we tried to complain they just gestured that we should sit with our feet on the milk - the fact that we're 18 inches taller than the average Vietnamese passenger didn't sem to matter
The closer it got to 7pm, more and more Vietnamese arrived for the journey along with, on average, 3-4 bags of food/oil/rice each. As it was clear that the bus was going to be full, they then decided to take all the westerners bags off the bus and then pile them up in the middle of the aisle - i.e. the whole bus had to walk right over the top of them every time we made a stop.This was extremely frequent as the Vietnamese have pretty small bladders judging by the stops every 90 minutes or so. To say it wasn't the most relaxing journey is probably the biggest under-statement this year. Whilst we tried to get them to store the bags elsewhere - a little witch then decided to pinch Jim's seat and refused to move as she wanted the whole seat for herself and 2 big bottles of oil. This then proceeded to leak so she tried to put it on the top of our bags. Not happy!!
We must have stopped for the 3rd time at around 1am which we thought was for another food stop. We didn't bother getting off the bus (as per the other westerners) only to doze off and realise at 6.30am that the rest of the bus had called into a motel and had had a good night's sleep! No-one told us!!
We finally crossed the border at 8.30 am - with an extra $1 for the pleasure which went straight into the guard's trouser pocket. The border region was really mountainous and slow which was followed by more paddy fields then we've ever seen.....mile after mile after mile. We finally arrived in Hanoi at 7pm. Not a journey I'd be doing again in a hurry! We did however save $200 and get 20 or so Vietnamese footprints imprinted onto our bags.