Travel Woes: The Night Bus

10 Feb 2011
Posted by Marisa
Marisa's picture

Getting around Vietnam has been somewhat more eventful than getting around in Taiwan. Not really more eventful I guess, just less enjoyable. We've done most of our journey by train, which was fine. The train cars are rather run down, but serviceable, and we still have a romanticized idea of train travel despite the long hours in not-the-newest cars. 


A train ride is always romantic, even if the toilet stinks.

Our first venture off the train however, was less than ideal. 

We were worried about being able to take the train south from Hue because Tet, the Vietnamese super-holiday, was getting started and we weren't sure how full the train was going to be. We tried reserving tickets through our hotel, but they wanted to charge a somewhat exorbitant commission, and were informed by several agencies around town that taking the night bus south was the way to go. The ease of booking tickets across the street and my imaginings of the Harry Potter night bus conspired to see us booked on a bus the next day, with the limitation that we would only take the 16 hour trip to Nha Trang rather than the 24 hour trip straight through to Ho Chi Minh City. Since this experience and a few after it we have since learned that if anyone says, "I can arrange such and such a tour for you at such and such a price" you should say "It is likely that that is a terrible deal, and in fact you should be paying me to go on this tour."


Me and the only person on the bus who actually fit in the seats, and thus the only happy one. My smile is fake.

Needless to say our bus ride did not fulfill my hopeful imaginings from Harry Potter. Unless you've always wanted to be driven around by the crazy driver who doesn't really understand the notion of a brake pedal and consequently get your face splatted up against the glass. I spent most of the night trying to cling to my seat, which was suspended in the air, as our bus driver swerved, yanked and stopped dead whilst leaning on his impossibly loud horn. At one point he accompanied his honking by singing and lighting up a cigarette. But it all paid off in the end, as we reached our destination an entire hour early.


Now imagine a stranger in between.

Not that anyone knew. 

The bus pulled over to the side of the road and sat there for 45 minutes, before I finally got up and enquired about our location, 

"Nha Trang?"

"mumble mumble"

"Are we in Nha Trang?"

"mumble mumble"

"Yes, we are in Nha Trang?"

"mumble mumble"

It should be noted that the bus was mostly entirely full of poor, unsuspecting travelers like ourselves who didn't know the joys that awaited them on the 16 hour trip. But everyone's heads came up when I was up front shouting with the bus driver about our location. 

"You mean we've been here for 45 minutes, but you didn't think to mention the fact?"

"mumble mumble"


Jordan never had a chance.

The entire experience can be summed up as going to a sleepover with complete strangers where you are given a bed that is neither long enough nor wide enough for you to actually fit on. Not that anyone mentioned this to us when they were selling our tickets. They should maybe say, "This is a ticket for hell." At least then you would be prepared. 



The ticket may be for hell, but the destination isn't.

Our first long-distance train

Our first long-distance train ride in Tunisia, we got on the train after all the seats were taken (because of all the people jumping in the windows while the train was pulling into the station), and had to stand in an open doorway (standing room only, too packed to try to sit on the floor), with hot air and dust blowing on us for the full 6 hours. (After which, we spent the night in a $4 no-star hotel that probably didn't deserve either the price or that rating.)

The experiences that make for memorable (unforgettable) traveling. :-)

And to think, in our case, that we could have gone first-class with guaranteed seats, for probably just a couple of $ more! :-)

You have to remember that in

You have to remember that in HP the beds in the night bus sweep across the floor, and in the movie Harry is also squished against the glass. I think he does fit in the bed though. At least you two have great adventure stories, keep them coming!

Wow. That is quite the story

Wow. That is quite the story (I especially love the picture of Jordan and his poor, poor knees).

That last picture of you on the beach is gorgeous. :)