I don’t sleep well on busses. We have taken night busses before but we haven’t taken a sleeper bus (well Kristi has but she’s seen and done more than me). Our bus is leaving Sapa at 10pm and supposed to arrive in Hanoi at 5am. Not a great time to arrive but it seems the busses only leave for Hanoi later at night so it will do.
It’s super cold and damp in Sapa this time of year so naturally time is crawling by as we wait for 10pm to roll around. We booked our tour through Camel Travel who tried to charge us 300,000vnd each to take the bus. We negotiated with the girl at our hotel and got the price to 250,000vnd without much hassle. We couldn’t get her to budge lower though.
As we are waiting to board the bus, they have a very inefficient system where you stand outside in the cold and have to write your name, nationality, what year you were born, and where you’re going on a sheet of paper. Because you couldn’t write on a clipboard in your bed on the bus. Also, why the shit does it matter what year I was born? They don’t serve alcohol on the bus and they are just showing Vietnam tour promotion videos on the TV.
You also have to take off your shoes and put them in a bag to take with you to your bed before you get past the stairs on the bus.
As we walk onto the bus, it’s has red and blue lights running the length of the bus. Three rows with a bottom and top bunks. We both pick top bunks side by side because all the cool kids take the top bunk. duhh. There’s space to stretch your legs out and your seat reclines far enough back that you’re almost laying down completely. You’re slightly inclined because the person behind you’s feet are under you. You also get a blanket.
Since it was so cold, I kept my jacket on as I attempted to warm up. I can’t help but feel like I’m in a spaceship with there lights.
Unfortunately, my legs are too long for this “bed”. If I point my feet sideways and bend my knees out like I’m bowlegged then I can fit. If I point my toes straight up, my legs aren’t too long but the little box my feet go into isn’t tall enough for my feet. I’m 5’10”. If this bed is too small for me, I would hate to any traveler that is actually tall!
As the bus drove down the very windy road, I almost felt like I was going to get motion sickness. I think my bed may have been swaying with every turn. Also the sudden jamming on the breaks and honking is not reassuring as you try to sleep. I wish I could just zonk out and that way if I die, I won’t know what’s happening.
I am proud to admit I got a solid 90 minutes of sleep on this bus. I spent the rest of the time watching shows and dicking around on Facebook. The bus stopped a couple times on the way. At one point around 1:30am it stopped for about 30 minutes. Other than that, it just kept going. The worst part about not sleeping on the sleeper bus… no food. I didn’t bring anything to eat and by 3am I was pretty effing hungry.
We arrived early in Hanoi about 4am so we got the fun of wandering aimlessly as we look for our hotel amongst the almost deserted streets. I say almost because there are a couple Vietnamese people driving random things like garbage or dead pigs down the street. There are also a handful of wasted tourists testing their driving skills in the otherwise deserted streets.
I bought a pork bun from a grumpy lady who had clearly dealt with one too many drunk tourists tonight. Then we continued walking. We were definitely regretting not taking screen shots of the map. Finally we gave up and hired a bike taxi to take us. Normally theses guys charge around 50,000vnd for 1 person but I was determined not to pay extra. I got him to 40,000vnd for both of us and our backpacks. It’s 4:30am and it’s not like he’s gonna make money off anyone else.
Poor guy had no idea how much weight he was adding. As he huffed and puffed on the slight incline, I was waiting for him to kick us off and tell us we’re on our own. But he didn’t. He got us to our destination and helped us find our extremely poorly labeled hotel. I gave him 50,000vnd as a thank you since that’s what he wanted from us.
5am we finally climb into bed. I look forward to sleeping as some asshole rooster picks this moment to wake up and start crowing. Doesn’t matter, I’m out.