Friday, October 19, 2018

On the road between Laos and Vietnam with the Wandring Writer

One thing I have learned during my journeys around the world is to never expect much when buying a bus or train ticket. Although with the train it is generally a question of how crowded it might be, on the bus, you really can expect everything.
On the paper, everything seems to be fine, but even those rides that read VIP might be deceiving.
And of course, you want to reserve a spot on a VIP ride, particularly in those countries where the standards are quite far from those you are used to. Nevertheless, also in those cases, the acronym VIP might be subjected to many interpretations, and not necessarily they meet your expectations.

In Tanzania, we were accommodated for a 10 hours ride on a rusty little bus where the floor was missing in a few spots, no air conditioning and it was sold for a VIP ride (I do not want even to know what would have been the normal ride).
In India, to reach Kathmandu, we had a bus which you could barely call it that way, and the windows wouldn't close.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, we were supposed to travel on a night boat with a private cabin. The actual boat was a small ferry so rusty that it seemed a miracle it could still float. No, there weren't cabins, but the captain was so kind that offered his own little sleeping "room" (I think I have thanked him one thousand times).
These are just a few examples on the topic "never trust a salesman when he is offering a comfortable ride."
To reach Danang, Vietnam, from Pakse, Laos, we choose another VIP ride, because we know the alternative can be a nightmare.
The ride was supposed to be relatively long, about 12 hours on a bus, and we sincerely hoped that for once in the lifetime, the trip would have been at least comfortable.
We were instructed to wait for the taxi to get us from the hotel lobby at 4:30 AM, but they arrived with a half an hour delay rushing like crazy to be able to reach the bus terminal in time.

So after the last goodbye to the beautiful night sky of Laos,

We were ready to leave.
 The bus was not exactly what we were expecting, but it had air-conditioned, and it was reasonably comfortable, at least enough to be able to fall asleep like babies.
Yes, we could have taken the flight that would have brought us to our destination in one hour, but we hoped to be able to see something more of the scenery offered by a road trip. This was true only for the part of the journey when we were awake, so to be honest quite few.

Nevertheless, something I could notice is that in the countryside, both in Laos and Vietnam,  people are building charming houses. I believe that, like everywhere else in the world, the prices to buy the land in those isolated areas might be way lower.
The journey went on flawlessly except for a small problem at the border. We had only a single-entry visa for Vietnam not really thinking that we should have paid for multiple-entry one (silly us).

Well, sometimes you just forget the smallest detail, and since this trip was mostly not planned at all, this kind of problem was to be included in the holiday package.

No problems at all, we just paid 5USD for the re-entry, and everything was solved, except for a small delay on our schedule, which seemed not to have bothered the other passengers, who could enjoy having more time to eat and stretch their legs.

Note to self: remember to think about the kind of visa you need in advance (and I should have seen that coming)!

So in the end, we reached Da Nang, which is one of the most important cities in Vietnam.
This is the commercial and educational center of Central Vietnam, as well as being the largest city in the region. It is close to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Imperial City of Hue, the Old Town of Hoi An... but for this, you will have to wait until next week.
Wish you a great weekend!


  1. In retrospect you'll look back and know the sacrifice of comfort was worth what you may not have seen otherwise.


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