Don’t do it!
Is it acceptable to start and finish a blog with one line ? It should be, but I will fill you in on some more info so you can decide for yourself.
*This is an extremely bias blog, purely from our point of view and everyone on our bus. Some of you may have had amazing trips from Hue to Savannakhet (I doubt it) and we hate you. I really wanted this to be an uncensored blog but Georgi said I wasn’t allowed to swear on the internet, so fuck it I’ll keep it clean.
So the story begins, ourselves along with 6 French, a Canadian and a couple of Americans had all purchased sleeper bus tickets for around 400,000VNDpp from our hostels/hotels. The bus left at 8am so we had been picked up by provided taxi (cheers hostel, as it was pissing down) and dropped at the bus station in Hue.
A local who worked for our hostel then went to the ticket stand and purchased our “sleeper bus” tickets for 300,000 …. so instantly screwing us out of 100,000 in front of our faces. What a way to set the tone. *Tip to anyone traveling this route / any route where a bus station is within walking distance – Just buy your own tickets , it WILL save you money.
We then proceeded to get onto a usual 52 seated coach, when we asked if we needed to load our luggage under the bus, the driver pointed (didn’t speak english but we knew what he meant), to bring our bags onto the bus.
We were the last to arrive, and what came next was just pure madness. The bus had been transformed from a 52 seater into a 30 seater. All seats from 31 back were stacked to the roof with fruit and other cargo, the isle was completely packed up as well, with every single footwell filled with pomegranate boxes! We had to sit with our knees to our chests. At first I was laughing, making jokes and attempting to silver line it, for anyone who knows me they can probably imagine that.
As with most journeys we thought that this bus was probably taking us to another station, where we then would get our sleeper bus for the remainder of the journey. Oh I was so wrong, little did we know that this was the situation for the next 11 hours. But better than that, we kept picking more people up! We had people sitting in the isle on boxes, a family of 4 were sitting on the 2 chairs in front of us and to add to the “fantastic” atmosphere the bus was leaking from the roof, as the downpour was seeping through every crack and crevice possible.
On a couple of occasions the French ladies attempted to ask the driver “are we changing busses? Are we going to a sleeper bus?” But me and the rest of the men had realised that when the driver laughed and pretended to not understand, our fate had been decided.
To throw a couple more details in for you:
We had one toilet stop in 11 hours, and this was only because we had a flat tyre. At one point I was eyeing up our 2 litre water bottle for relief, but couldn’t bring myself to aim and fire into the vessel whilst a Vietnamese family of 4 starred on.
To add fuel to the already fierce fire, when we stopped at the Laos border to get our visas and pass through, the driver and his team decided to strap all our bags to the roof to make room for more fruit (I think it was to stop the bus from leaking myself).
BEWARE at the border the government officials will decide on the spot how much they fancy charging you for your visa!
We were told before hand it would be $30 per person for UK citizens to gain a 30 day Visa (baring in mind we were only staying in Laos for a week) so we were prepared for this charge. What we weren’t prepared for was when he looked at me and said $35 dollars, then chuckled to his mate before saying “$40 per visa for you and your friend”.
We watched everyone else on the bus pay between $25-35 without querying. I was being stubborn so our passports sat behind the desk until we were the last ones in the office. We ended up agreeing on $72 for the both of us, as that was the entirety of our wallet … it’s a joke, at least in Cambodia and Vietnam there were signs telling you how much. In Laos unfortunately it’s just roulette.
After we passed into Laos we pulled over, a bit of me actually thought we were changing busses, a sleeper bus pulled up along side our bus and the anticipation started to rise, was this the answer to our prayers? Was it fuck, they loaded it with more pomegranates! We then sat in this crowded, luggage filled bus as the temperature increased from 24 degrees in Hue to 32 degrees in Savannakhet.
I can’t even describe to you the relief when we stepped off that bus! I guess this is all part of the experience, but I wouldn’t have wished that trip on my worst of enemies.