Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Night Bus to Hanoi 21st February 2012

Hanoi Again...and confusion.

The bus is only three quarters full - an Italian, a few English, two Indians and seven Israelis. The rest are Vietnamese. Clear sky at sunset as the bus rolls out of town and down into those clouds hanging around in the valleys. It's a good bus, quite new and for once I seem to have the best seat - it can recline completely flat, much better for sleeping. Plenty of room to stow away bags, although as always, passport and money is kept at close quarters.

A stop at the border town for about 15 minutes, a toilet opportunity since none is provided on this bus. The Israeli contingent seems rather excited, perhaps slightly inebriated as the journey to Hanoi begins proper, about 10 hours from now. Driver number 2 has to put a damper on the exhuberance at the back, lights out as we all settle in for a long night. Quite a comfortable ride, actually the best so far on these open tour sleeper busses. A pit stop at midnight, just as I had nodded off into a deep sleep!

Hanoi at 4.45am and confusion. Some had been told the bus stops in the old quarter and quite clearly this hasn't been the case. Infact the bus has stopped at Gia Lam bus compound, just next to the public bus station. Since this is where the bus started from, it's was a fair assumption beforehand that ending up there again was a high probability. Bus driver says take a taxi to old quarter. Taxi drivers say it's 200,000 vnd to the old quarter, and I say no thanks, walking off as they beckon to negotiate. I only take taxis as a last resort and I'm defiantly not going to pay anything like 200,000vnd, about £7 for a 10 minute journey. Another traveller has the same philosophy as we discuss the situation at 5am. Thankfully, having studied the Hanoi bus map at length, and a little web research, there is a bus, the number 34 stops on the highway, opposite the old quarter, about halfway between the two bridges. A short walk towards the public buses,  to the taxi drivers obvious dismay.

Bus 34 is there, waiting. 3000 vnd, about 15p and 10 minutes later we are right outside the old quarter. I don't know what happened our Israeli friends, last I saw they were huddled, on the road outside the bus station looking somewhat confused. They didn't like the taxi idea either then!

Night bus recovery for a few hours, after tucking into eggs and coffee of course..

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