To Hue by sleeper bus

04/20/09

We are sitting, i.e. Jens was offered a deck chair, in the tourist information in Cat Ba, waiting for the bus and the ferry so we can then get on the sleeper bus that will take us to Hue. In the big photo in front of the door the bus looks as if each bed (there are three beds per row, two stories) at least 1.5 m wide – an extreme wide angle I’d say… So we are lying upstairs starting at 3 p.m. and we’ll take about 14 hours for the trip. Fortunately, there are pills for travel sickness…

The man from the tourist information is playing the guitar and singing, the other young men are singing along with him – we come across this quite a lot…
When we depart from Cat Ba many pictures come to my mind again, especially the national park. I remember the many different noises – sometimes they sound like a creaking door, sometimes like a cell phone, then like the buzzing of the telephone wires in the hot summer – and all of them are very, very loud. We went there many times, walking, by bike, by moped.

Yesterday, when it was still very hot, we climbed up to the viewpoint on the top of the Yen Ngua, it was very tiresome, sometimes we went on all fours… But we were rewarded with a view of the national park from above. And the woman at the hotel reception observed Jens taking a picture of the panorama up there she told us this morning…
When we arrived at the top we were also told by some fellow travelers that we had accidentally taken the “adventure path”. Well, we did enjoy the significantly easier way down after that…

Bild2

resting!

A sign is indicating a cave and we descend to verify if it is the cave that used to serve as a hospital when already we were greeted with a “hello” and a man came limping towards us. “Verrry nice cave, 60,000 Viet Nam Dong” So we replied: “Oh nooooo, 40,000″ and he again amused and pretending to be outraged: “Oh noooo, 50,000″ And we replied, again, in the same amused outrage: “Oh nooooo, 40,000″ Then, reluctantly, he gave us a handshake to seal the deal: “Ok.”
In the end he got his 50,000, it was surpassed myself – this time regarding my claustrophobia…

Of course, we could not resist the Quan Y cave’s overseer’s heavily advertised offers and, of course, we had to haggle again – if the haggling is done with humor even I enjoy it. And in any case the cave was part of our program: During the Vietnam War there had been a hospital in it, and Ho Chi Minh was also there once. We were given a very detailed description of his swimming pool, with a lot of body language. Anyways, I will keep a good memory of those pantomimic explanations during our trip, ours and the Vietnameses’…

A short summary of our 22 hours’ and 650 km trip: Taking the bus from Cat Ba to the port, then the speedboat and the bus to Hai Phong where we crawled up into our sleeper bus after two hours at 7 p.m. when it was already dark. All the time depending on the locals’ helpful advice. Here again, we are to take off our shoes, put them in plastic bags and receive some water and a toothbrush…

A comment on the real size of the beds: 1,8 m long and 40 cm wide, two stories and three beds in a row, one seatbelt. I feel panic. Jens is lying sideways across the last five beds and I lie down next to him. At the next stop a married couple got on and took two of the five beds… So Jens’ feet were dangling over the iron edge of the bed and soon fell asleep – unlike him…

Now they started playing some terribly loud music through the boxes which were directly next to our ears – even our great earplugs couldn’t muffle the sound. But all of the other people lay down, stretched!, pulled the blankets over themselves and were fast asleep – I’m jealous. We suffered and moaned silently on each chuckhole – and there were many of them… At 7 a.m. we had breakfast at a rest stop, wondering when we would arrive in Hue. Then at 10.30 a.m. and 25 km before Hue and after having had lunch in another rest stop we are told at about 1 p.m. It was a real adventure, and I’m not saying this in a negative way…

But now, you dear ones at home, we are sitting in a small hotel in the citadel of Hue next to the pool and we are happy once again…
Another remarkable and quite frequent phenomenon in Hai Phong’s crazy traffic and also hereabouts: The young women and girls don’t want to expose their skin to the sun. If they are wearing short sleeves they have very long, skin colored gloves, which they are constantly busy straightening, to go with them. If they are wearing long, mostly white blouses, the cuffs go over their hands. Their faces are protected by a mask and if there should still be a spot that hasn’t been covered they shield it with their hands. The reason for this behavior: Those who have got lighter skin show that they don’t have to do any lesser work outside, where they would inevitably be exposed to the sun. The men here prefer the wealthier women and they can immediately tell them apart due to the lighter skin… Surely tanning studios would not stand a chance of survival here…

So, now finally it is time to relax, swim in the pool, lie on the deck chairs, we have it all to ourselves… There is lots of green and thus the twittering of birds around us…

Enjoying our vacation and sending you warm greetings,

Hanne and Jens

2 Comments

Buster Woodrum

Hi I reach your site when i was searching Google for this

Freddie Pattee

Interessanter Post, vielen Dank.

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