Monday, 20 August 2012

Asian Adventure - Hue to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

I didn't realise Vietnam was so long!


So - when last I left you I was heading across the Laos / Vietnam border on a bus that had broken down four times, making my way towards Hue and a 7pm train connection!





Finally through all of the border controls we got back on the bus and drove into Vietnam - within 5 minutes the bus had broken down again, another 20 minutes later and we were on our way. Meanwhile, just as in Laos, I received a message from my phone network telling me that I had entered a country where I would be unable to make or receive phone calls - only texts. They weren't kidding - I couldn't even ring top up.



The first thing that struck me about Vietnam was how the scenery changed so quickly and dramatically from Laos. 

As a historian - I could see issues with the Vietnam War policy of Defoliation and I had only been in the country half an hour!




Well, the bus poodled on and on and on and didn't break down again but we didn't arrive in Hue until 8.30pm, far too late for the train connection to Ho Chi Minh City. So we were really left with one option - stay the night in Hue and reassess in the morning. Luckily there was a nice little guest house just along from the station and a nice little restaurant over the road.


The view from our guest house in Hue. 
The next morning when we should have been on a train halfway to HCMC (but lets not dwell on it) we had three choices:
1) Get a train - but it wouldn't get to HCMC until the next morning meaning we missed a night in our hotel that was already booked.
2) Get a bus - which at this point in time we thought was quicker than a train!
3) Get a bus to the airport at Danang and see if we could fly - now when I had checked out flights a month earlier there weren't many available so I was worried about this option.

Therefore we chose option 2 and jumped in a cab to the bus station where we had arrived the previous evening. There was a VIP bus leaving within 15 mins and we bought our tickets and hopped on!

It was a strange bus - it felt a bit like an ambulance at first.



Large comfortable seats - with a duvet. 


10.30am - All aboard and off we went. 
Again the scenery was lovely.



Lots and lots of rice fields

Lots of little villages. 
And the day went on and on - we stopped for lunch at a rest stop - back on the bus and we slowly wound our way through village after village.

Another rest stop at about 8pm - and we got talking to a Buddhist nun - we asked her what time the bus would arrive in HCMC - expecting her to say about 11.30pm. When she said "Oh tomorrow morning sometime" we were dumbstruck - now you would have thought that we'd asked that question at the bus station - but we didn't and so we were faced with a night on the bus rather than our lovely hotel waiting for us in HCMC. To say I was miserable and cross was an understatement but there was nothing else for it - so - knowing we would laugh about it one day - we got back on the bus and settled down for the night.

Eventually at about 8am the next morning we drifted into HCMC - my first sight of the Mekong since Mukdahan. 

The bus driver made a delivery at a morning market. 
And at 9am they deposited us at the bus station, we jumped in a cab and arrived at the Majestic Hotel at about 9.30am - thankfully just in time for breakfast.

Within minutes were seated on breakfast terrace eating the most amazing breakfast and the memories of the bus journey began to fade. 
We now had four days to look forward to in Ho Chi Minh City.

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