Third World Problems

Piece of real Vietnam.

Almost two weeks in Vietnam, and to tell you the truth, the city-girl in me is starting to miss some things of comfortable western lifestyle (like normal toilets, not just a hole in the ground that you get here in many places…).

Getting used to the night busses has also been a lot to take. If you ever consider taking a bus from Camel Travel or T.M. Brothers Cafe, don’t. Run (or walk) instead, you’ll be there probably faster. We’ve come now over 1700 kilometres down from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) through Hoi An, Nha Trang and Mui Ne, and our last “sleeping bus” experience ended 30 minutes ago. I couldn’t be more relieved. Imagine 13-16 hours drives in an overcrowded bus. Usually the buses carry some other stuff too (like sugar or rice) so sometimes the luggage has to be taken inside, even if it’s so crowded that some people already have to sleep on the floor. My first thought of sleeping bus was: cool, adjustable bed-like seating! The reality is stinking seats made for short people and backrest stuck in one position. So you either sit or lie the whole way.If you’re lucky enough to fall as sleep, the crazy bus driver makes sure with honking horns that you wake up every 5 minutes. At 5 am when you’re thinking the sunrise and the view on Vietnamese countryside is okay, the thing you’ve feared because of odd sounds, happens: bus breaks down in the middle of nowhere. Then you’re left for hour(s) without air conditioning. It’s always a plus if the bathroom in the bus works.

Mui Ne by night and a nice restaurant with a sand terrace by the beach.

And that is, if the bus ever comes. The night bus always has to be confirmed a day ahead and two times we asked our hotel receptionist confirm them for us, but the reservations never got through. That’s why we were left in Mui Ne last night because the bus was full, and they hadn’t got out reservation (But I was actually happy we got to stay in Mui Ne. It’s a beach paradise. Who would complain about a moonlight swim under the palm trees?). Today our bus was supposed to leave at 1 o’clock in the afternoon. We got on the road at seven…

One other thing that bugs me, is that when something happens, like a bus is delayed or broken, nobody tells anything unless you keep asking. Nobody is sorry, and then in the end, when the bus finally leaves, everything has to happen in a speed of a lightning, like we were supposed to know all the time what was going on. That’s kind of what happened with our motorbike tour to Da Lat too. At first, we were going to take motorbikes from Da Lat to Mui Ne, but because it’s a long way, our guide suggested the minibus. We we’re clueless of were to get the tickets our guide had bought for us and the departure time of the bus also varied a little bit, so a bit more info would have been welcome.

Our guide and J’s driver Tai.

This sunny beach we left behind in Nha Trang on thursday when we hopped on motorbikes.

Anyway, getting from Nha Trang to Da Lat on a motorbike on thursday was an amazing experience. Even though, I was scared most of the way and wished in some mountain road turns that I were home with mom. đŸ™‚ But the view with the small mountain streams and water falls was just something unforgettable. And our drivers Tai and Huan drove very well. Tai (who was also our guide) wanted to show us the real Vietnam, so we saw for example making of rice paper (that’s from what they make fresh spring rolls), coffee plants, flower farms and we even got to taste sugar from the ground. The next day in Da Lat they took us to a silk factory and to a pagoda with a big, happy buddha.

On our way up to the central highlands.

Vietnamese women by the pagoda in Da Lat.

Now I have to get some sleep to get the most out of tomorrow, our only day in Saigon before we fly off to Singapore on Monday. Wish I had more time later on on this trip to write about everything, maybe I get back to for example Hoi An later… This time in Vietnam has just been hectic because of the tight schedule we had (because of the flights to Singapore and Bali already being booked), but I think it’s about to change when we reach Bali on tuesday night…


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