It’s a two-day commute to Hue from Cat Ba island. So far on our journey of SE Asia we have travelled by day bus, bicycle, boat, airplane and car. We have chosen the sleeper bus option for this trip. Whilst I am under no illusion that it is going to be fun, I am hoping that it will be bearable.
We have a 3 hour wait in the industrial town of Haiphong. As with most bus stations around the world, this one has a couple of uncomfortable plastic chairs, a revolting, filthy toilet for which you have to pay for the displeasure to use and no food or drink vendors to make the wait just a little more interesting.
We scout the area for a semi decent place to wait and have something to eat, and find a “cafe” with a couple of tables and chairs and a friendly but non-English speaking owner whom we buy a coffee from. She allows us to while away some time. Bored, we move on, making our way back to the station and find an “eatery” right next door. With no idea as to when next we will be able to eat a semi decent meal, we dine on some flavored instant noodles and boiled egg, which fills us up.
We board our sleeper bus and settle into our top “bunk” beds which are made for midgets or Asians. I just manage to stretch out my legs and lie on my side, but my poor boyfriend has to spend the next 18 hours scrunched up like an accordion. Unfortunately, these are fixed beds so there is no option to sit upright and standing on the bus aisle is not a good option either.
As the trip progresses, the “squat” toilet at the back of the bus, which I have to make my way through the bed obstacle path to, a number of times during the night, gets more smelly and eventually runs out of flushing water completely. It now becomes a game of bearing the thirst and not drinking water in order not to need the toilet.
Based on the information provided to us when we bought the bus tickets, we are expecting to arrive in Hue at around 10am. We stop for breakfast at 7am, which offers a welcome respite from the horizontal position we have been forced to be in. Neither of us can stomach the noodle breakfast included in the fare, and we sit around waiting whilst our fellow travelers slurp, swallow and burp their way through their meal.
“Last stretch”, I think to myself as we board the bus again. 10am comes and goes and so does 11 and 12. The bus comes to a halt again, and this time, we sit around waiting for our fellow travelers to enjoy the lunch feast, again included in the bus fare.
Finally, with absolute gratitude on our part, we get off in Hue. A young lady student who also gets off the bus here, offers some advice and assistance in negotiating a taxi fare to our hotel. We are delighted when we arrive at the Canary Hue Hotel which offers a brilliant, welcoming service and great rooms.
Sometimes it really is just about the destination and not the journey, and I am delighted that this particular journey is finally over.