Sunday, 10 November 2013

11 Hour Bus Marathon

The boy at the desk had told us that the bus would arrive at 8am, but since the sign in the window said 7.30am we thought we should be ready by then just in case, good thing too since the ‘bus’ did indeed pull up at 7.30. ‘Bus’ should have been reworded to be ‘crappy old decommissioned minivan’ but maybe that’s too long for the sign…

The van was already full of locals and we barely squeezed into the broken back seat, shoving our luggage at our feet, making zero leg room – we had a sinking feeling it was going to a long trip. However, before leaving town we stopped at another hostel and picked up four more tourists – and the only place for them was also on the back seat. To say we were uncomfortable was an understatement and it was a long, slow, bumpy ride that took 11 hours. 

We finally pulled into Dien Bien Phu at 6.30pm and everyone gratefully unfolded themselves and stretched their numb and tingling limbs. The first thing all the tourists did was to buy bus tickets for the following morning to cross the border into Laos, and none of us were happy to learn that it departed at 5.30am which meant there wouldn’t be much of a break between bus trips. 

The second thing we did was book into a room directly across from the bus station as it was cheap and meant we could sleep in as long as possible, well till 5.15am if we pushed it… Thirdly, even though we’d been sitting for 11 hours we hadn’t eaten or drunk much (means less toilet stops are needed, and it can be a long time between these!) so we all walked over the bridge into the small town and found our last phở gà, we were going to miss those. We also bought 1kg of litchis to take on the bus for breakfast, since we wouldn’t be hungry at the early hour we had to rise at. The last thing we did was shower off the day’s grim and crawl into bed for a few hours sleep.

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