a 24 hour bus ride
So we climbed into a mini van to get to the bus station for our bus, already in the mini bus was a ridiculously tall man (from my point of view, he is 6"6 so thats a good foot and two inches taller than me) called Nate and a girl from Holland called Michelle. Nate had already done the journey to Vietnam once, however as he didn't have a visa he was kicked out at the border and had to get a mini bus for 11 with 22 people and 2 pigs back. With this great experience under his belt he was able to tell us all the joys of 24 hour bus ride... in the middle of his story we got on to the bus and he sufficiently scared some girls sat in front of us so they "went to get some food" and were never seen again... They obviously took their bags off and decided to fly! The bus itself was not the worst we've been on but that doesn't say a lot. I was in the corner at the back due to my lack of stature Leanne next so she could get her legs near the central isle, Nate in the middle with his legs straight out in front and michelle with two seats. In front of us was an Irish girl who got a double seat after the other girls ran away... The rest of the bus was locals. The bus drove through the night to the boarder. However we arrived just before the boarder at 4 and it didnt open till 7 so we pulled up at a guest house that opened its doors for the driver and then closed them... we were all left to sleep on the crampt warm bus. Eventually Leanne gave up and went outside to read giving me two seats!
We got to the boarder and were the second coach but it still took forever to get through. Armed with our tall knowledgeable guide whose arms could reach above crowds to the windows we were able to leave laos very speedily, then a 10 minute walk up a hill in the drizzle to Vietnam. Once there we joined the foreign que to find out we had to fill in a form first and then que again and hand all our passports over and were not given them back till we gave in $1. Luckily we had $4 in one dollar bills so were able to help out Michelle and Nate who had no US. We then got our bags off the coach passed through an x-ray walked around a scary Alsatian with a muzzel on and back to our coach and that small journey took us 2 hours till the bus left again and we were in Vietnam.
They obviously saved one of the drivers for this section of the journey as driving in Vietnam bears no relation to driving anywhere else in the world. While in Laos they didn't drive on any one side particularly, in Vietnam they drive all over the road over take on corners with on coming traffic and honestly don't use their eyes or wing mirrors ... instead they use the horn. for example you should use the horn when:
about to over take
having just over taken
if you are being over taken
if you need to speed up or slow down
if you pass a pedestrian
if you pass a scooter
if you pass a bicycle
if you are turning a corner
if you are passing a train
if a train is passing you
or if you feel like it and none of the above apply!
So there was no sleeping on the rest of the journey at all but it was still funny given our various states of lack of sleep.
Nate had some friends waiting for him at a hostel from his first boarder trip so we knew we wanted to get a taxi there as they said it was a good place to sleep, while waiting in the biggest traffic jam to reach the bus station a woman zipped up on her scooter and climbed aboard, she asked us if we had somewhere to stay and had a piece of paper with Nates name on. The travellers ahead of us had mentioned Nate was arriving today and so she had come to the bus station to collect him! That sold us on what a lovely person she was so we all decided to stay there.
Once we arrived we met Sarah, Gene (pronounced jeneee but there are no accent keys here and i would hate for her to be called Gene as in Kelly as she gets that a lot!), and Martin. They said they were headed straight out for dinner so we joined them and had a huge boiling pot that we threw beg and meat and seafood and noodles in, very very exciting! They told us about a tour they were doing the next day to Ha Long bay on a Junk boat and so we decided to join them on that as well.
I have to go and wake Leanne up for breakfast now so will have to write about that later today hopefully... I'm trying to catch up on how behind i am and how much we've done since then.