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Landslides, Blow Outs, Lack of Petrol, Floods, Perverts and Riots

Hanoi Travel Blog

 › entry 11 of 20 › view all entries
I know it's only been two days since my last note but jesus... alot has happened and not much of it good!! Ok so later that evening (30th october) we headed to a bakery and got a beer and some chocolate cake and chilled before heading back to our flea pit and packing our bags, paying the hotelier in the process. We arose at 6am and frantically showered and bolted down the road to get a sandwich for our intrepid bus journey. Then eventually a jumbo came for us but not before we saw a nasty tuk tuk driver run over a big dog, he didn't even stop and all we could hear was the yelping of the dog and we couldn't see where he was at this point-well sad!!

We piled onto the jumbo and set off to the bus station with a couple of other girls who were also taking the VIP bus to phonsavan but they wanted to see the plane of jars-it does exactly what it says on the tin-shows you a field of stone jars and we couldn't be bothered with that so we just decided to go there cos it was easier to get to the border. We got to the bus station after about 15 minutes and were herded over to another bus. hmmm... how do i describe it???? a shell.. no air con... not VIP (like we'd paid) and just a rickety old local bus-all the westerners having to board it were fuming and some even refused to board it. We were crammed on and set off late due to the locals messing around, along the way we picked up a few more and eventually it was like cattle herding, too many people in one place-everyone piled on top of each other or the bags falling around.

About half way through our journey we had to stop because bags were falling out ontot the road, then again 10 minutes later. Then they too, were piled onto the back of the bus-just to make things more difficult!! Eventually, the bus stopped so we could get food but the meat was unidentified and there were a lot of puppies and kittens around so we refrained from munching at that particular place and just stuck to our sarnies. All around us though, people were vomiting their guts up for the entire duration of the bus journey so it was a case of ipod on and close your eyes, pretend you weren't there. Eventually we shifted some of the cretins from the bus and were able to relax and breathe in clean air-not petrol fumes or essence of vomit!

Then suddenly after twisting and turning and winding around the sharp corners, tight bends and forcing our way up huge mountains the bus suddenly came to a halt in the middle of a steep hill. Oh... guess what!? Some absolute muppet (namely the driver) had forgotten to put fuel in so we had broken down. The conductor, his 2 lacky's and the driver frantically searched for empty bottles so they could fill it with fuel from a nearby lorry that luckily had lots of spare diesel but still even the lawnmower type vehicles were going faster than us! Eventually we got our groove on after standing around for ages and after climbing back through the window for some and wedging the door open for others we all piled back on and flew off to phonsavan.

We arrived at phonsavan about 5pm and went to study the buses we could get to hanoi, people kept telling us that we had to either go via vientiane (back on ourselves) or via sam neua (which would take 2 days) and totally wasn't worth it but we found another bunch of people with the same aim as us and agreed to sort something out together as the other buses weren't running again til sunday. We hopped into a minivan and he took us into the centre but the guesthouse he had promised us was fully booked so we were in effect stranded. Me and one of the other girls went to go look for another one but it was atrocious. The sink was overflowing, the floors were not clean enough to was on-eurghhh! then we finally got into another place with some perseverence, then went for beer, we needed it after the day we had had. We wandered around the town, most of the buildings had been made out of bomb shells as laos in the most bombed place in the world they utilised this. A guesthouse even had a video on it and an ampty shell to show us!

Next day we got up at stupid o'clock once more and went for breakfast. The guy panicked when he saw us as he hadn't thought anyone would turn up for some-clearly! So he had to go out and buy eggs and bread, then simon and beth came down and we sat with them for breakfast. Simon and Beth are our adopted tasmanian parents who took us all the way to vietnam and looked after our unruly group-one south african, two canadians and us two british kids. After bartering with a guy about the price of a taxi to the border we finally got into the minivan after waiting for an hour and then we sped off into the early morn. All 7 of us wanted to get to vietnam as soon as possible and so figured it'd be safer and cheaper to stay together so we took our little family all the way to hanoi but first we had to master the border.

We had a 3-4 hour drive to the laos/vietnam border with a few pitstops along the way for peeing in the bushes and the like (mainly the men) then when we got to the border we were stamped out of laos and had to walk the rest of the way to the vietnam border, about 1km. The road.. well, how do i describe it?? a bomb site!! It could never be described as a road-even big trucks or 4x4 couldn't get up it without being pushed by about 15 laos locals!! It was a path of potholes, built up mud, big splodgey puddles and rock-beth and lindsay seemed to fall on the way down-it was that bad and we had to keep running from side to side to avoid the oncoming wagons attempting the pile of dirt. We made it to the border and did the big gay thing of standing in two places at once and taking pictures then we got inside and had to wait 1.5 hours while some guy played with our passports and the others sat outside like a lot of asians, doing sod all!!! Well... apart from staring at us girls and calling us beautiful but in a creepy way.

We finally managed to negotiate a taxi after the security guys suggesting we get on the back of motorbikes-yeah... sure, with our big backpacks-that'd be a blast!! We clambered into the minivan and set off down the dodgy roads into the town where we could get a bus, the driver wanted to charge us 500 dollars to take us up to vinh so we told him to sod off and paid what we owed and piled our bags into the local bus before heading to an outside station to eat some soup but the fact was-i couldn't face unidentified meat-possibly dog or cat plus a foul smell was coming from the spittle bucket underneath the table so we were all pretty much without appetite bar the men who ate everything!!

We finally got onto the bus and a vietnamese guy got his phone out and proceeded to take photos of me-i turned away and told him to jog on in my best scary voice but to no avail and eventually i had to put a cover over my head just to hide away!! While lindsay got harassed, she too turned away in horror! After about and hours drive we heard an almighty bang and had a blow out so 15 minutes later we stopped at a garage to get it fixed where we all fussed over the baby animals-puppies, chickens etc. Lindsay, Simon and Beth went off into town in search of a toilet while me and kenna stayed by the bus, the boys-justin and andy were taken by some random vietnamese man to his family's house where they had tea and fruit-jealous!!

All of a sudden this guy went to grab me and I saw what was coming and pushed him away, then he did it again and scared the life out of me so i ran over to kenna to hide. She was shocked cos everyone else may have been pervy but were harmless-this guy, while his old wife fixed the blow out and took the tyre apart was busy trying to grope the young girls but she laughed while we were scared but eventually everyone came back and we able to get on our way again but as kenna leant against the window a wrinkly old hand flew threw the window to try grab her but the boys noticed and shouted at him to get away and caught him just in time. Then we flew away from that disgusting pitstop and got on our way to vinh, rain clouds loomed overhead but we were pretty sure we could get there that night even after all our trouble with getting to and from the border! We drove over moor and mountain like maniacs-the driver was on a mission-no wonder we had a blow out! The only time we stopped was when we had to negotiate diggers and the like cos of a landslide on the top road which had partially cut off the road and made it unsafe.

After ploughing through floodwaters and over mountainous terrain we finally reached vinh and some guys grabbed our bags and put them underneath another bus which would then take us to hanoi but while we dined we felt that we were getting ripped off and so we enquired with another bus company as to the price of the trip to hanoi, then with another woman who also told us we were getting ripped off so we tried to move our bags but the guy got angry and locked the luggage compartment so we couldn't have any other choice but his bus and then the cheaper bus were threatened by the security so we stood angry as hell trying to think of a plan of action.

We were just about to go get some biscuits and chocolate for the bus when out of nowhere a minivan sped into a crowd of people where we were stood and the guy looked angry. The minivan came towards us and we ran for cover but he hit two vietnamese men. Some woman told us the rioting was because of us and our price negotiations but in fact it was mafia related and the woman was just a drama queen-they all stood fighting and not one member of the bus station security team intervened. Eventually things quietened down and we were herded onto a bus once more but given set seats by some angry driver but we still all moved about-just to wind him up to be fair but least this bus wasn't local and it was very comfortable.

We slept all the way to hanoi and 6 hours later we were.. you guessed it, stranded again in a very bleak city because of the flood waters but no one nearby spoke english so we had to draw pictures in a notepad. Nothing was getting in or out of town so we were effectively screwed. Simon took his group of children to an outside cafe again but i saw her chopping the meat on the road and couldn't face food again. Last night's food was meant to be mixed vegetables but instead i got a plate of beansprouts with noodles-pretty naff to say the least!

After the others had finished their soup, still sat on kiddy chairs, oh yeah-these were really made for midgets, we contemplated what our next plan of action should be. We wandered down to negotiate a taxi and came out with a price around 500,000 vietnamese dong (20-25 pounds) but split between 4 was ok, the other's wanted to wait for the rainwater to subside so we decided to go down and see if it would drain away but the filthy water was killing the pavements and was about waist deep. I even saw a dead body with a blanket over get carried through the flood waters-my first ever dead body!!! Not pleasant!! Women were dragging vegetables through the filthy water and we even saw a man with a dead pig and a bag of intestines riding his bike through it-eurghhhh...

The guys waded through to see what the story was but everything was backed up so beth, simon, linz and i got the taxi to the old town threw lakes of water-we figured that our bags were already wet from the water we went through overnight so we braved the water and got to old town about 10 so our attempt to get to hanoi in one day was pretty effective. 2 local buses, 1 vip bus, 2 minivans and we're finally here but we may have to leave as the rain won't let up and it's not safe or worth it. Now me and lindsay are alone again so we have to figure the rest of the way but we have a route similar to the rest of them so lets hope we have more luck down south!!

the end....!

We have checked into a mini hotel and it's clean, happy and had cable!!! We went to go eat earlier but when we were leaving it began to rain heavily and all of a sudden the road became flooded-we had to take off our shoes and walk through the raw water and possibly sewage of hanoi-yack!! Then we figured we'd go wander and get chocolate-lindsay getting very excited when we finally found some, then we went for fattening cakes and large coffees to cheer ourselves up-mintness!! But the rain keeps on coming and soaking us to the skin-still covered in black from walking through earlier so lets hope our roof doesn't leak tonight!!
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photo by: mario26