Bussing it through Vietnam

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May 9th 2006
Published: June 22nd 2006
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My luck was running thin in Vietnam. I'd left myself a measly 10 days to travel from Hanoi all the way down to HCMC. I spent the entire time catching buses and covering the highlights. My first hour in Vietnam was most eventful, indeed. I caught a minibus from the airport into town, arriving fashionably late at around 11.00pm with no pre-booked accommodation. Hell, I'd done it before, what was another multi-million over populated big city... By the time the driver had dropped off the other 6 people at their hotels, I was the last one left on the bus. Slightly uneasy about finding a free room this late at night, I told myself it would all be over in just a few minutes... They dropped me off out the front of some building and I went inside to enquire. I was met by 3 men at reception, eager to be of service... Too eager, I thought. They explained the hotel (?) was booked, but "not to worry" they had another hotel nearby and would take me there... I enquired about the price, which 'not surprisingly' was higher than my guide book suggested. Alarm bells started to ring in my head, I decided to go outside and take a look at the hostel's name, just in case... Call it intuition, but sure enough something was amiss... The sign said 'Hotel" (no name).. So I proceeded to ask why the sign was missing the name I'd given the bus driver. The 3 men told me that the sign had been taken down for repairs. Aha! So I proceeded to ask them why the street sign had a different name to the one, which their hostel was supposed to be on. They told me that what I was looking at wasn't the street name. Then I asked them why the next building had the same sign but with a different number on it? Aha! Major alarm bells! They saw I'd seen the light and all started talking at me at once, how they could help me (me, the vulnerable-solo-female traveller. right!), how they had a room for me,... Crap! The Scammers. That was it, I'd lost it and in a few words summed up exactly what I thought of them. Furious, I hopped on the first 'moto' (with my massive backpack strapped to the front of my driver) and headed off to look for my hostel. Along the way my new driver tried to sell me 'a really nice hotel he knew of'.... No thanks! I demanded he take me straight to the other place. We pulled up in front of a building, just 2 minutes around the corner. This time I checked the name, all was in order. As I jumped off the bike, some guy approached me and said that the place was full, but 'not to worry' they had another hostel nearby... Meanwhile my driver starts the bike and starts to drive off. I shouted at him to stop and pulled my backpack off him (cursing), telling the first guy that I would go inside and ask at reception whether the place was full. So I made my way down the world's narrowest corridor and was greeted by a friendly face (finally). Sure enough, that guy out the front was a con-artist, working for some other hotel and trying to steal their clientele. I was furious. I left my pack and went outside to look for my moto driver. He had disappeared.

Additional photos below
Photos: 37, Displayed: 24


Her name was...?Her name was...?
Her name was...?

Friendly girl from my hostel in Hanoi.
Halong BayHalong Bay
Halong Bay

..view from the entrance to the Amazing cave.
View from boat, Halong BayView from boat, Halong Bay
View from boat, Halong Bay

You can just see a small beach in the distance.
Inside the lagoonInside the lagoon
Inside the lagoon

We kayaked through the opening in the rocks... and found a lagoon inside the island, completely surrounded by vertical rock faces. It was beautiful and quite surreal, hard to believe that a place like this exists.
At the beach, Hoi An At the beach, Hoi An
At the beach, Hoi An

We had the beach to ourselves. Odd!...although it looks very calm, we experienced the likes of a mini sand storm. Never knew a grain of sand could cause so much pain.
At the beach, Hoi An, 2At the beach, Hoi An, 2
At the beach, Hoi An, 2

We were surrounded by a group of Vietnamese ladies, who insisted on us getting our legs waxed... They performed this using a piece of thread only. It was fascinating to watch, though quite painful.
Hot Springs, Nha TrangHot Springs, Nha Trang
Hot Springs, Nha Trang

Sylvie and I soaking ourselves. A well deserved break after another overnight bus ride from hell. I'd been so motion sick that the sandwich I'd had along the way ended up in bits on the sidewalk behind a bush. Lucky the bus driver made a cigarette stop at just the right time, otherwise I might have decorated the aisle floor instead.
Hot Springs, Nha TrangHot Springs, Nha Trang
Hot Springs, Nha Trang

Sylvie and I enjoying a mud bath with a couple of Russian scientists.
Sylvie & I on a Tuk-tuk, HCMCSylvie & I on a Tuk-tuk, HCMC
Sylvie & I on a Tuk-tuk, HCMC

...our driver spoke great English and gave us a guided version of your typical tuk-tuk ride. bonus

6th July 2006

Hey Zoe!!! Really nice to read your story and have a look at the pictures. It makes me wanna go back, even if the people aren't always that friendly or trustworthy. I hope you're having a good time in Bulgaria. Let me know when you're somewhere around Belgium/Holland! Enjoy! Cheers Sylvie
13th September 2006

Your pictures are the best...always!!! kisssssssss

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