My First Night Bus
Trip Start Jan 31, 2011
298Trip End Dec 15, 2011
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Where I stayed
20:50 Overall I did very little today. I had a good sleep in my own private room, got up at a reasonable time and had breakfast and then went for a walk through the town of Ninh Binh. It was as already noted in 'the bible' a small town with nothing particularly noteworthy about it, but I thought a short walk before the full heat of the day set in would be a good idea.
I went down the mainstreet and found an ATM in a tiny air-conditioned cabin. There was already someone in there, and seen as how there wasn't enough room to swing a cat I waited outside, until a lady on a scooter turned up and went in. I see, so you don't wait outside, you wait inside this cabin with the floorspace of a bath. Ok, so I went in, 3 of us pressed into a small space and then a 4th lady tuned up and stood on the other small space next to the ATM itself. I could see from the mounting number of people arriving that this was going to be a cooler but cosy affair getting cash out. Gone are the boundaries of personal ATM space. I wondered if I'd be mugged immediately after getting my cash out, or followed down the street although you can never take out more than 2 million dong- That's about £60. Having taken my 2 million out, (which you get in 500,000 notes) I had to go into the bank anyway and ask for smaller change as it's a ridiculously large note to produce for anyone, same goes for the 200,000 and 100,000 notes in a lot of cases.
I continued on my walk, always having to dodge parked scooters, wares pouring out onto the pavement, construction sites, small restaurants and so on. I remember seeing an advert on tv absolutely years ago showing an inconsiderate car driver who had parked on the pavement (you know 2 wheels up, taking less space on the road) and the woman pushing a pram down the pavement who couldn't get her pram past, I can't quite remember if she ended up going round it in the road an practically being knocked down or something, but either way, it stuck in my mind. Particularly as here - I see no pavement, but I also never see children in prams. Children that small are either walking holding a parents hand, or on the scooter-some clutching on to mum sitting behind her, or some standing in the footwell bit between mum's knees with hands upon the bars. None of them ever wearing a helmet (I've been told they believe it restricts the brains growth! I hope I was misinformed on that one as I'd hate to think anyone was that stupid!)
In hindsight I should have rented a scooter and gone out for the day, but this was what I had planned days ago until I was surprisingly put on a package tour - I honestly believed I was just getting a bus to Ninh Binh from where I'd sort put my own tour and exploration. But as I'd been booked I did it all yesterday and essentially I need to have a few super cheap days to bring my average daily spend down a bit. I did enjoy the tour, but I was looking forward to renting a scooter and taking myself out, like I said. Extra cost, so I amused myself today.
The street's shops sold many things- hats, bags, clothes, mobile phones, everything for your home shrine, fans, aircompressors, paint and all manner of normal and random things. The most incredible thing I saw was a man get on his scooter, then 2 people put a 5 foot fridge on the back sideways so it was balancing, and then not make any attempt to secure it! I hope he manged to balance it all the way home!
I then found the market. I had a small gathering of women appear wanting to know the usual question of how old am I, am I single and do I have a baby, along with marvelling at my skin and looking concerned and almost repulsed at how hot and sweaty i appear to be. I had one woman positively turning her nose up at me because I was wearing my shoes and not some sort of plastic flip flop, until I mimed that the sun makes my skin the colour of their bright red chairs and therefore hurts, well, she still turned her nose up! Lol!
I continued on and found some old women who I smiled at and called "sin chow" to and they grinned at me and one beckoned me over to shake my hand and said something, I had no idea what, but I gestured that i was 32 as it appears to be everyones first question, then she stood up and did some sort of belly dancing type movement which really did confuse me so I wandered on. I came to a part of the Market which had huge home made/hung bits of sheeting draped to make a shade, it was so low that the bikers passing through (got to watch those guys!) had to duck down a bit.
After taking this slow wander around the town I went back to the hotel and went back to the cool of my room to pack up my clean clothes and loaf about.
I had some dinner and waited for the night bus which arrived about 9.30. I got on and had to put my shoes in a bag. I had a top bunk. I've never been on one of these before, there's not much space, no overhead shelf, and only a foot well thing to put your bag and your feet in. There was barely room for mine and I could only get one leg in, so eventually I took my valuables out and put in a dry sack by my feet and my rucksack on empty bed next to me.
There were other backpackers on the bus but they had no interest in speaking me, and after listening to them for a while, I had no interest in speaking to them really. They were just totally not my sort of people, so I just kept to myself, put my earplugs and eyemask on and spent the next 9 hours attempting to sleep.
In the night the bag was in a different position than when it started. Suspicious.
Beautiful: the funny low coverings in the market