Published: March 19th 2012February 22nd 2012
So another day, another early rise and another bus. This time, a 15 hour ride in a so called "sleeper bus" to Da Nang (Vietnam). We weren't really sure they meant "sleep" literally as it wasn't much of an option on this ride. Once again, karaoke blared from the early hours of the morning and a thin full reclining chair with a small angled metal box that our clunky Western legs had to perform contortion acts to even think of squeezing in. However, when you catch an international bus for less than $20, you really can't complain.
Border crossings can be a little tense at the best of times. Today's was no exception. Having made a slight miscalculation with our remaining funds, we realised we were going to be $2 short with the departure tax (The total for two people being a massive $4).
The bus pulled up just before the border and we decided that we could quickly use one the rare ATMs in this part of the country. We jumped off the bus and tried to withdraw money to no avail. To add insult to injury, the bus suddenly took off and parked on the other side of the border, taking with it all our belongings.
There were flaying arms from the crew telling us to go back and us (Adam really) putting up our hands in a, "What the...." gesture. With the assumption that our passports had crossed the border with the bus, it was a difficult couple of minutes pointing at the bus and trying to explain the situation to the border police. The only English they knew was "Passport" and they didn't really seem in the mood for charades.
Just when it was beginning to appear that we may have a problem, a guy we hadn't seen before, rocked up with our passports in hand and with all the required stamps. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow when travelling coz there is no other way.
A quick motorbike ride on the other side of the border to an ATM that actually worked and our debt if $2 was repaid.
Hours later, we arrived in Da Nang. We had been told by other travellers (invariably the best source of information) that the place to go was Hoi An (about 30 to 40 kms away). Tired of buses, we figured that our miniature-sized backpacks would allow us to take forms of transport that other backpackers wouldn't be able to (safely at least). With this in mind, we engaged some locals hanging around the bus station and negotiated a ride on the back of a couple of motorbikes to Hoi An for only a few dollars.
I think these guys would probably have driven us there for less as they sped down the highway along the coast enjoying every minute. It was one of the most exhilarating events of the trip. They were a gang of speed demons. Overtaking all other traffic, we gripped to the back seat or whatever we could hold on to as they whipped millimeters around all other things on the road. They just laughed the near misses off while we clenched our teeth in a tight smile and thought somewhere between "Never again" and "Man, this is fun!"
After a massive day of travel we checked into Greenfields Hostel. Although marketed as a hostel and full of backpackers, it is much more akin to a Hotel with a swanky pool and free cocktails during happy hour. All for as little as $6 a night. We did our usual Scrubba wash bag routine, had a shower and called it a night.