So it's my birthday!! Would love to say I was swimming with turtles or lying in a hammock but plans are to spend 19 hours on a bus.. love it. Anyway we arrived at the Laos/Vietnam border around 1.30am and spent the night there (the bus just stops-apparently so the driver can sleep). We were woken at about 6.30 by the driver and had to go in to have our passports stamped. Borders are generally very time consuming and badly organised, and we stood waiting for at least half an hour. No one tells you what to do so it's essentially a massive group of confused English tourists. After getting our passports stamped we followed some people towards the Vietnamese border. All of our big bags were still on the bus underneath, and so we expected to travel across on that, given we still had 12 hours on it. Apparently not. No one knew what to do but an Asian man from our bus seemed to know what he was doing so we all followed him to the Vietnamese border, where we were stopped twice to have our passports checked and stamped. When we finally arrived the bus drove off and unloaded our stuff. We waited for the English speakers we'd befriended and all continued walking, not sure where we were going, and there 200m or so I'm front of us was our bus. So we loaded our bags back on and returned to our beds. The whole process was so bizarre and time consuming, by now it was 9.30ish.
We drove on through Vietnam, sleeping from time to time, and stopped at some services. Lauren got some food and, realising how dehydrated I was, I bought 2 cans of drink. By 'services' i mean a large room at the side of the road, a kitchen area at the back where people were cooking and a woman at the front at a till.
At the till a canadian guy from our bus and part of the group we'd walked with was complaining to the woman who was refusing to give him his change. He was refusing to move and she was just ignoring him. When lauren went to pay the woman hesitated as though seeing if lauren would notice but then did give the change. I'd had no issue when buying my cans so thought I'd get a couple of bottles of water for the rest of the journey. I picked up two small bottles and went over to the till and asked how much they were. The woman replied '10,000 each' (about 50p). I handed over a 100,000 note (roughly £3- this is similar to how much accomodation will cost me per night in Hanoi) as that's all I had. She instantly passed it to her young son who walked away, I presumed to get my change. After 10 seconds or so she repeated '10,000 each' I said 'i just gave you 100,000'. This continued for several minutes, but I insisted I'd given her the money and she'd given it to her son. They both denied it happening, but I kept repeating 'can i have my change, it's 80,000'. Eventually several guys in orange t shirts appeared (I think they worked for one of the coaches) and asked what had happened as I was blocking the till. I explained it really clearly and slowly, the woman denying I'd given her any money, but they spoke to her, and her son suddenly reappeared holding my 100,000 note. She handed me my 80,000 change like nothing had happened. Whaaaat. It was sooo weird.
The journey continued and seemed to go on forever. I didn't sleep at all but watched out of the window at the people working in fields. The driving here is terrifying which also kept me awake; couldn't sleep with the horn sounding every 2 seconds. Finally around 6pm we arrived. We were harassed by taxi drivers as soon as the doors opened and found one who would charge us a set rate, not metred for 600,000 dong (around £20) which seemed fair for a 30/40 minute drive during rush hour in the city. We found out hostel which is really nice and checked in. After showering (the nicest feeling ever, I feel soooo clean) we got ready and came to a taco restaurant for dinner. It's so nice and although the portions are small it's really cheap and owned by English people which is pretty cool. We shared churros for dessert as a substitute for birthday cake then came back to sleep
Also I have no idea if these are posting as blogspot is a banned website here in vietnam! Others include the BBC! Just a fun fact if these have posted