I left Nha Trang ill. Maybe because I have just been in a new country on a different continent in a climate, which I have never experienced before in my life. Anyhow, I was there and had to continue my journey. My plan was to go to China and I thought that it would be the best to get there from Hanoi, which I visited before, just at the beginning of my adventure.
I couldn’t get a direct coach to Hanoi, because most of them (all reasonably priced) were stopping in Da Nang, which was great, I loved Da Nang last time. However, this time, the bus journey was different. It was the first time I have travelled with other foreigners. This time drivers were acting unusually unfriendly and it was strange experience. The bus was clearly divided, half-full with tourists (back) and half-full with locals (front). If you ever travelled in one of these vehicles you’d know, that in the back the sleeping seats are connected, so that people sleep directly next to each other. I don’t mind that, but there was Aussie girl who did. She occupied one of the “separate” seats, which frustrated the driver to the point he started shouting at her to leave the bus (in Vietnamese with clear gestures). We were all trying to persuade him otherwise, but he was too stubborn and she had to change seat (btw. she was stubborn too). Funnily enough, driver asked the next tourist who came in to occupy the place she forfeited.
That’s not the end to the differences in experience from my previous bus trips. It was the first and only time when we didn’t get free water and dinner, and someone stole my blanket :(. Somehow, this one was not a pleasant journey apart from a lengthy and positive conversation with the couple seating next to me.
In Da Nang I had few hours to my next departure and in this time I found befriended a Vietnamese and Japanese guys. The first one was a local engineer and the latter a backpacker who was going to Laos. Had a nice cup of Vietnamese coffee and a chat.
The next twenty odd hours I spent on another coach, this time with only two westerners, an Italian couple. Together, we arrived in Hanoi, only to find our stuff soaked in water from luggage container. It was extremely cold in Hanoi at 5 in the morning and we just got wet from the backpacks. It did not help with my illness, so I felt even worse.
When you don’t feel well it’s not easy to stay positive and enjoy travel. That’s what happened to me in Hanoi. The day was cloudy and the city grey. I found local people rather annoying, because everyone wanted to sell something to me straight away or after two minutes of conversation. Most importantly, after some time in Vietnam I knew roughly what the prices are like for certain things and I knew that they were at least doubling them for me. The funniest thing was the advice I got from Hostel receptionist. I wanted to get to train station by local bus and she said there are no buses running in Hanoi on this day (just after one drove past) and I got to the hostel by one. She said I had to take a taxi and she knows cheap driver…
Eventually, I found the way to buy tickets for another coach. This time to Nanning, in China, for $25. That’s how I left Vietnam the next morning, but more about it in the next note.
To summarise, my Vietnam experience I have to say that it was the best country I have ever been to and I will surely go back. There’s plenty of things I have not seen or done there, so I can’t wait for the next opportunity to explore it. There were some drawbacks, and most of them were shown in this note, but don’t misjudge the big picture by looking at this small one. Vietnam is great and its people fantastic. GO to Vietnam if you can! See you in few days, in China.