Friday, 18 March 2016

32 hours on a bus

The dreaded 32 hour journey to Vietnam arrived. I like long journeys, well I did before this trip, but around the 12 hour mark I've listened to all the songs i like, eaten more crisps than should usually be consumed in several years, had some broken, had sleep, and generally just am not feeling it. Our first part wasn't too bad to be fair. We got picked up by a minibus at 9 and we're the first on. Lauren was feeling sick so I'd got a couple of bags in my rucksack just in case. We set off and the bus quickly filled up. The tickets are so vague; ours said 'bus 9-5 VanVieng to Vientiane' 'bus 7pm-7pm Vientiane to Hanoi' but by 2 we'd arrived in Vientiane and we're given our ticket to Hanoi (not that you even have to show tickets; they just know how many people are coming from each hotel, and this said that out bus would depart at 5pm. There were no details of where from so we just assumed it would be from where we were dropped off.

We were opposite a steak house so went in for a drink and decided to stay there until the next bus. The street had a lot of shops down it and i saw a samsung sign so set off to see if I could get an sd card reader for my phone. There always seems to be way more staff than customers so I ended up in a phone shop trying to mime what an sd card reader was to about 10 Laos members of staff who were attempting to find the right product and try it on my phone. I ended up getting the shop's WiFi password and googling it, and after all that they didn't stock them.

The time passed quickly and at 5 a tuk tuk pulled up, asking if we were going to Hanoi. We got on and drove around the city picking up an English couple, 3 Canadian guys and a European couple who were all friendly and funny. We got stuck in bad rush hour traffic and I'm not sure when we arrived at the bus station, maybe around 7, but it was pretty much full (I think we were actually the last 3). We were handed tickets at random on the way in, fortunately all next each other.

Thi is a very weird bus, though probably better than the last night bus we got. We each have an inidividual bed, and everyone else had a little table thing (guess who doesn't- me). And we each get a blanket. The only issue is that you have to keep your small rucksack on the bed with you and mine is massive and doesn't fold down, making it virtually impossible to find a comfortable sleeping position. Also when we first got on it seemed to tbin

Combined with a screaming baby- yep, someone has genuinely brought a tiny baby onto a (apologies for the language) fucking 24 hour bus journey (suddenly babies on flights seem like nothing) and someone who's snoring was so so so loud I've heard 3 different groups of people discussing it (It woke me up because I thought someone was being sick- that's how intense their snoring was) it hasn't been the best night's sleep.

This is probably making it sound horrific but at least this time none of us are sleeping next to a stranger and no one's been sick (except the baby maybe 1oo times- it's been quite quiet to be fair, but not as quiet as if there was no baby). The roads also weren't too bad, but the driver beeps the born approximately every 10 seconds so I'm pretty much always prepared to plummet to my death. Prior to coming travelling the idea of spending this long on a bus would have horrified me, but it's interesting to look out of the window at a new country; I've seen 2 monkeys, a truck full of piglets, and hundreds of normal people going about their days. Maybe I'm just really nosey but I find it pretty cool. I've also had enough time to discover that I can differentiate between the tastes of bottles water brands. Practically a party trick. Also with so many English speakers there's a kind of 'we're all in this together' vibe so I do feel pretty safe (and a little sad that they'll probably use an ugly photo of me to report my death of the news because there's so many of us). I'm joking, but it's all character building right

Laura x

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