For anyone wondering why we took this route to Hanoi from Hong Kong, I have to say that unless you want to fork out $500 for a one way flight, or board three trains and have two overnight stops, this is the best way!
The first part of our journey was a simple two hour bus ride from the centre of Hong Kong to the border. Once we were through customs and back in China again (doh, you could smell the toilets from the immigration queue!) we then boarded the overnight bus! Have to say, this was class!! Everyone had there own little bed, with loads of leg room and a pillow and blanket! The bus was very clean and spacious so was well happy with it! Met a guy from Hong Kong, Wallis and he was good craic and very helpful! We chatted with him for hours about China, its people and their various chinese-isms (hocking, spitting, toilets etc). One of the funniest things Vinny quized him on was the whole chicken situation. You see, every time we have ordered a chicken dinner in China, instead of pieces of white chicken meat that we are accustomed to at home,
we would get lumps of bone and grizzle and you would have to dig for meat! Vinny spent ages trying to explain this to Wallis who could not believe we expected chicken "with no bone?!" This led to Vinny actually, step by step, explaining to poor Wallis how to cook a roast chicken , i.e. buttering the skin and to quote vinny " sticking an onion up its arse!" Was really funny!
The bus stopped at 1am for 30mins in what has to be the weirdest place I've ever been. Its basically a big rest stop for buses, with maybe 20 buses pulled up and 100s of chinese people eveyrwhere. Could feel everyone staring at us as myself and Vinny were the only westerners there. Apparently, China are known for their fakes and this place was no exception! Right in the corner, was a fake McDonalds, with the famous logo turned upside down so it was a W and was called Wichael Alone! Even had a blue Ronald McDonald outside!!
The overnight bus arrived in Nanning at 8am and Wallis was able to tell us how much a taxi to our hostel would cost and even helped us
buy our bus tickets to Hanoi for the next day! He was a lifesaver! Made it to the hostel, which was a bit of a dump but we were only there for the night. Slept all afternoon and then headed out for food. Not easy! Many street vendors and little open air eateries along the road but the smell of shit coming from the public toilet at the end of the street permeated every single one of them so we ended up in a Pizza Hut where the waitresses and some of the customers started laughing when they saw us!! I think one of the waitresses was afraid of us cos she kept getting one of the waitors to deal with us and would run away giggling!! Was weird but funny!!
Up at 6:30 the following day to head to the bus station. Stood on the side of a really busy road trying to flag a taxi. No luck, after about 10 mins started getting a little panicky! Then a taxi FINALLY pulled up and some chinese guy jumped into it ahead of us! Vinny went ballistic!! He just started roaring at the man saying it was our taxi
and to get the hell out if it!! Wouldve laughed only just as that happened, a girl on a motorbike skidded on the road and came off her bike. Was scary, it happened so fast. She seemed to be ok though, she hopped her head off the ground but she had a helmet on. Got a taxi shortly after and made it to the bus station in plenty of time.
The bus took 3 hours to get to the China-Vietnam border. We stopped for lunch before the border, but the food was a bit manky so we ate very little. When we arrived at the border, we all bailed into a sort of 9 seater golf buggy that brought us through these really nice grounds with fountains and everything and through immigration. Once officially out of China, we then got the golf buggies again through the grounds and on to the Vietnam immigration section. A couple of minutes there and we were offically on vietnamese soil!
We boarded the bus to Hanoi straight away and after waiting for it to fill, which took a while, we were on route to Hanoi. Immediately, the scenery was completely different to
China. There were mountains and palm trees and gorgeous scenery for a good bit of the journey. Vinny took loads of pictures, I fell asleep!! Stopped for a 15 min break along the way and then on to Hanoi, which took about 4 hours total to get there. We knew we were coming into Hanoi when the number of bikes on the road increased and the traffic got a bit mental! We met an English girl and French guy on the bus and shared a taxi with them to our hostel, where I have never been so happy to sit down and have coffee and a plate of bananas!!
It was a long journey from Hong Kong to Hanoi, but way cheaper than the other options and we got to see some random places we would otherwise not have seen. Also, the scenery from the border down the mountains on route to Hanoi was nearly worth it just for that!
For all the negatives mentioned in this blog about China, I must say that I really enjoyed visiting the country as it was somewhere I had always wanted to see for myself! The day spent on the magnificent
Great Wall will be hard to beat and the Terracotta Warriors were amazing as well! Overall, we really enjoyed our time there but we were also ready to move on to more backpacker friendly places!
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