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Published: October 8th 2010
After spending my birthday whiling away the day alone in Muon Khua I was definitely ready to head out of Laos and into Vietnam where I was to meet Carrie in Hanoi. I was a little aprehensive about the bus journey from Muong Khua in Laos to Dien Bien in Vietnam as the Tourist Office info stated that it was 100km but would take 7hrs! Talk about out of your comfort zone, comfort didn't even come into it!
So in the wee hours of the 25th I prepared myself for the worst. I was told to wait at the boat dock at 4am for a boat the short distance across river in order to meet my bus. Me being me I was there at 3.45am diligently sitting atop my backpack and waiting for my ride. It was still dark and the only noise was coming from some pigs who were tied up in the back of a truck, this only worried me slightly. By 4.10 I was starting to worry but told myself we're on Lao time here, just relax. To my relief a local guy rocked up who was also catching the bus so I knew we were on
the right track. Eventually by about 4.40am a few more people had arrived, including a Japanese girl who informed me that actually the boat leaves at 5am and the bus then leaves at 5.30am! Oh well at least I didn't miss it.
Eventually we are on the bus and heading off. I had taken a motion sickness tablet, thinking the roads would be extremely windy - I needn't have bothered, we were travelling so slowly you couldn't even feel the bends! I passed out fr the first 2 hours, waking intermittenly to see the bus struggling over rocks and through mud. I woke up properly in time to get out and wath as we were stalled by 'roadworks'. This consisted of a backhoe on the hill above us pushing dirt onto the road. Not sure what the objective was, but it meant we waited for him to finish then another back hoe came in and cleared enough room on the road for one vehicle. It only wasted 20 minutes and was quite comical really. Underway again it was both a scenic and sometimes scary ride. At one point we drove through a river deeper than the tire height and
then halfway up a hill we got a puncture. After stopping on an incline(?) and failing to be able to get the wheel nuts off the driver just decided to go on as is, with the flat - no worries!
After a few more near misses and once almost rolling backwards down the mountain we made it to the border crossing and finally entered Vietnam. My fellow travellers and I felt pretty good when we arrived in Dien Bien, really dodged a bullet there! However upon stepping off the bus I was mobbed by Vietnamese touts trying to sell me a ticket on their bus to Hanoi. After being poked and pushed around I finally went with the quietest one and told everyone else to rack off. The bus left at 6.15pm so I spent the next 6hrs wandering around town before boarding my first Vietnamese sleeper bus. It was an improvement on the Laotian version as all the seats/sleepers were individual and although I was the only whitey on the bus it was a fairly uneventful and easy ride.
I arrived in bustling Hanoi at 6am and after getting lost a few times eventually my moto driver
found the hostel I needed and I managed to rest up a bit before meeting Carrie at her hotel in the arvo. Hanoi is currently celebrating 1000 years of existance and there are events and things going on all over the place, so one of the craziest cities in the world has become even crazier! It was a shock for me after coming from peaceful Laos but it was an even bigger culture shock for Carrie, coming direct from Mandurah!
After catching up over a few Bia Hoi's (beer on tap - local specialty) we wandered the streets until we were both exhausted and filthy. I cannot even describe the colour of our feet after a day out, its gross.
The traffic is so bad here at the moment that people think its ok to drive their moto's on the footpath! Then they look at you like you, the pedestrian should get out of the way! After two days of wandering and enjoying the festival atmosphere of Hanoi we were well and truly ready for a change and so to Halong Bay it was!
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