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Love, Trust, and a little bit of Wanderlust If we don't try we will never know, in the end we only regret the chances we didn't take.

Clouds and Cold Weather.... Wait, What??

VIETNAM | Saturday, 29 April 2017 | Views [443]

The bus was due at reception at 6:30am. We were downstairs around 6:25. The bus arrived about 7:00 😴
This journey was about 6-7 hours long (they could never be exact because it all depended how insane your driver was) we had paid more than usual for the journey, £19 each, but it included a return journey a few days later as we needed to get back to Hanoi to move south. He originally wanted to charge around £25 each but we battered him down. So for £19 we expected a decent seat. We had watched a huge red and black bus pull up and collect some passengers and it looked like luxury, so we were hopeful. Then our bus arrived. The tiny 15 seater minibus, almost identical to the one we had done the Ha Long Bay trip in.
Not a chance!
We we're already complaining about it being a rip off as we were bundled into the bus and off we went. Great!
But 2 pick ups and 20minutes later we were all kicked off the mini bus at the side of the road were a huge crowed had formed. All waiting for a bigger bus. It became apparent that it was going to be a sleeper bus, these had top and bottom seats/bunks and we didn't want a top one. We knew it was going to be carnage getting a seat so I took the small rucksacks and the hubby took the big ones to put under the bus. I jumped in the cue as quickly as I could when the bus arrived. It was mayhem. We've noticed here that no one does anything logically and a lot of travellers are just plain ignorant. People were piling there bags up in the isles making it impossible to move, others were swapping seats as people were trying to sit in them, I even saw one person pick up someone's stuff and put it on the floor to take their seat! I rushed down a clear isle and climbed across the centre row of seats finding 2 seats near the back, close enough to each other that we could talk if we wanted. I dropped the bags in one and sat in the other. I only had to protest twice to someone trying to take the seat with the bags on.
The bus was actually comfortable, your legs could stretch out under the seat in front of you and the cushioned seat reclined back to allow you to sleep comfortably. You also got a blanket and the seats had little cushioned head rests like a pillow. The journey was quite pleasant. And we hadn't been ripped off after all!
As we got nearer to Sa Pa, we noticed a change in the weather. Hanoi was constantly smoggy, I assume mainly because of the pollution, but here it was different. We were so high up that we were driving through cloud. The roads were bumpy and narrow but heavily used. The beeping habit is obviously nation wide as it still goes on here, although it doesn't work as well! Our driver sat on his horn for about 3 minutes along one road that had a few turns in it (they also beep going around corners so oncoming drivers know they are there). Only our driver decided the vehicles ahead of us were going too slow, so he would use the opposite side of the road to overtake, while turning a blind bend, on an upward hill. I don't know how they keep this country populated!
Needless to say it ended badly, but not as badly as it could of been. Before the bus had managed to overtake the giant lorry in front of us, a mini bus had come hurtling around the corner heading straight for us. Horns sounded, breaks were slammed on, people were shouting, all while a few scooters edged through the little gaps to get ahead. The mini bus driver was raging, and his face was a picture, our bus driver kept trying to edge forward but couldn't manoeuvre anywhere, and the lorry driver must of had enough because he practically took the front of our bus with him when he screeched off ahead of us. Leaving our driver with his tail between his legs because he was still behind the lorry!

So we were pleased to get off the bus with all our limbs intact. When we pulled up at the stop the bus was surrounded by women and young girls in traditional village dress offering treks and home stays. They were persistent but not intrusive like the taxi drivers had been. They seemed friendly and when we said "no thank you" and told them we had a booking they left us alone. We walked for about 3/4 of a mile to get to our guest house, and realised that on that walk we had seen most of Sa Pa town.

Tags: bus journeys, clouds, cold weather, mainland, mountains, sapa, vietnam

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