Vietnam is……Different

Don’t let them put other people in bed with you” was the advise from the travel agent in Vientiane, Laos as she stamped my sleeper bus ticket “No Refund”. She went on to explain when the buses are busy they will try to cram as many people as possible into each bed. My books are called “I Talked to Strangers – and I was not wanting to have to change it to “I Slept with Strangers”. Fortunately we had a new bus and there were three rows of bunk type beds? that are actually seats that almost recline – and no room for two or more in any of them – barely room for one. My journey to Vietnam was advertised as 16 hours, leaving at 5 pm and arriving at noon – my math said that was not 16 hours. Bus had blankets for us so we all settled in for a long ride. We arrived at the border about 2 am, but the border does not open until 7 am. Our bus was about 3 blocks back in the endless line. Driver explained we had to go to the Lao border, get our exit stamps, go to a checkpoint, then come back to the bus. A fine plan except it was so cold you could see your breath – and pouring rain. We have many Vietnamese on our bus going home for Tet. The locals in Thailand and Laos are small, quiet, gentle, soft spoken people, who line up and take their turn. Not so with the Vietnamese – I felt like I was back in China. You must push and shove your way to the counter – then throw you passport at on officer, and wonder if you will ever see it again. I saw an elderly lady about 4 ft. tall walk completely over a 6 ft. young man from Calgary. There is the same procedure on the Vietnamese side, but we also have to get our luggage from the bus and put it through a scanner. Once we are in Vietnam and back on the bus, they turn the A/C on high to keep the windows clear.I was sure I would never be warm again! We make a lunch stop at a huge rest stop. You pay for your food then take your ticket up to a big counter and someone dishes up what you have ordered. As we stand waiting we notice as they clear the tables, any food left on plates is brought back and dumped back into the pot it came out of. Waste not – want not?? Most of our group decided they were not hungry after all. Welcome to Vietnam – the adventure has begun.

2 thoughts on “Vietnam is……Different

  1. Daniele says:

    Oh gosh, this sounds terrible. The Vietnamese people in the south are different! Had the same experience with Northern Vietnamese people. I hope you will have a nice time there. We had bad experience at the lao/Thai border :-/ the Lao wanted me to pay 100$ because I had the visa on arrival but no stamp of my entrance in my passport. They “forgot” to stamp it when I entered Laos. Anyway it seems that it was my fault and had a 50$ deal >:-( back it Thailand! 🙂

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