At 5:20pm I was then called by the guesthouse owner, asking me was I going to Vietnam, I said I was. He told me that there was a motorbike waiting outside to bring me to the bus station. So I hopped on the motorbike with my two bag's and we drove the 8km's to the bus station. When we got to the station my driver sorted out my ticket to Hue. It was Vietnamese bus, with very uncomfortable seats and very little leg room. Only half the bus had seats and the rest was used for storing luggage. There was about 10 people on the bus, plus 3 drivers. I think half the people were Vietnamese and the other half were from Laos. I was the only foreigner and the only one who spoke English. :-)
A Laos guy sat beside and we tried to talk, but only through smiles and drawings could we communicate. Along the way the bus made a few stops at check points, I noticed that the bus driver had to pay off the guards to let us through. Later another man sat beside me, but he could not speak a word of English either. He offered me some Lao Whiskey (made from rice), I gladly took some. There was a storm outside, with allot of heavy rain and thunder and lighting. At one stage, one of the side windows came crashing in and shattered all over the floor. The bus also killed a dog, all I could hear was the screeching of the dog as he got hit by the bus.
At midnight (Thursday 13th) we stopped at a street restaurant. I guess it was the best restaurant in town, since even the dogs and pigs were there :-). They gave us chopped up chicken, but they even cooked the chicken legs with the claws. Back on the bus I had some more Lao Whiskey and listened to U2 on my CD player. I allowed the man with the Whiskey to listen, he really enjoyed it. We got to Lao Bao (the border town between Laos and Vietnam) at around 3:30am and had to wait here until 7am in order for the border to open. Up to this point the bus journey had been fun, but now it was dark and I had to give my passport to stranger (who seemed to have everyone's passport) in order to get my stamp out of Laos. I fell asleep in the back of the bus, only to wake up to a Vietnamese woman in my face wanting me to change money. I was still half asleep and so I agreed just to change US$5, of course she ripped me off.
Anyway I got my passport back and walked the 1km between Laos and Vietnam. I thought I was entering the richest country in the world. The entrance to Vietnam was a big, massive golden arch, which was beautifully decorated. They took a long time looking at my visa and passport. Eventually he threw my passport at me, I then had to walk up to another guard, who also took about 10-15 minutes examining my passport, looking at me and the passport again and again. Anyway I got through, :-) I was in Vietnam at about 8am.
Our bus had to go through with only the bus driver on it. All our bags were taken off and put through a scanning machine. The guard then held one bag in the air and said something in Vietnamese, everyone just looked at me, and I guess I was meant to say that it is my bag. At this moment I thought the worst, did someone put drugs into my bag. The guard brought me into the office and asked me what was in the bag (it was my hand luggage), books and other things I said, he told me to open it, he asked me did I have Cd's in there, I said yes, he asked me were they music or movie Cd's, I said music, he had a quick look and noticed that they were all original. So he said, that's OK.
A sniffer dog was then let loose onto the bus and around our bags. He found nothing. We eventually got through the border, then I noticed that one of the bus divers took a bag from the glove compartment and handed it to one of the passengers, when he opened it, it was full of money :-). Best bus journey ever, but it was not over yet.
Driving in Vietnam was crazy, the bus driver had to beep the horn every 2 seconds, motorbikes and other vehicles were coming at us on the wrong side of the road. By this stage I was sitting at the back of the bus listening to music. One of the bus drivers came down to me as he wanted to listen to some music also, I played U2 and Pink for him. We got to Dong Ha and the bus was going no further, even though I had a bus ticket to Hue. Shit. I got off the bus in the rain only to be swarmed by people asking me where I was going and did I want to buy anything.
A Vietnamese man on a scooter told me he could take me to where I could get a mini bus to Hue. I decided to do this. He brought me to a place on the side of the road where we waited for the mini bus. He tried to charge me $10 for the mini bus, but I only gave him $7, even that was too much. At the same time 3 or 4 of his friends came along, just to add confusion to the situation. They were encouraging me to get onto the bus while they put my bag in the back of the mini bus.
I was only a couple of minutes down the road when I realised that my bag may not be in the back of the bus. The more I thought about it, the more stressed I became. I realised there is nothing I can do, nobody spoke English, and if I asked to get out I would probably be left on the side of the road. I hoped and prayed that my bag was on the bus. I got to Hue at around 11:30am and sure enough my bag was there, it was a great relief to see it. I got a motorbike taxi to the Binh Duong hotel. Tip: always agree on the price before you get on motorbike taxi or tuk-tuk. He wanted $5, I gave him $2. In the hotel they showed me a very nice room with air-con and free Internet in my room for $12. I took it, and now my journey from Laos to Vietnam was over, thank god.
I had something to eat in the hotel and slept for the afternoon. That night I went for a little walk around Hue and had pizza for dinner. I also booked a city tour at my hotel for the next day. Later I watched TV. CNN were showing a report on all the earthquakes in Indonesia, 5 in total, and the beginning of the marches in Burma (Myanmar). I also watched an animated movie called Robots or Robotics. It was nice just to watch TV for a while after my long trip to get here.
Go to next page ------->>>>>>>
I had breakfast in the guesthouse and checked out at 12 noon on Wednesday the 12th of September. Since it was my last day in Laos I was determined to get some more post cards. I walked to the post office, which only had a small collection and bought 3 post cards. I mostly spent the day waiting for my bus to leave at 6:30pm. I was been picked up at 5:30pm. I talked to a Laos guy who was standing outside a hotel encouraging people to stay in the hotel, me included. While walking back to my guesthouse I seen a very strange animal in a cage (see photo). I had dinner back at guesthouse, since my bag was left there.