Ho Chi Minh is a defibrillator.
I got to the city sleepy and drowsy from the twenty-three hours of bad bus and felt like someone needed my heart to be rushing again.
The dream of riding the train from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh had to be replaced my the necessity of taking the bus if I wanted to get going as tet holidays had it all booked up.
I am glad I took the bus, you don’t really sweat (quite literally) the destination if a plane drops you. But it hurts to think that you can cover the distance of a 38 hours bus journey in 2 hours by plane (thoughts you have when you are actually on the bus and cannot take it anymore).
The pros of the bus:
the travellers from everywhere that you get to meet (my fav a couple from Chile studying film in Melbourne, travelling for 3 months on a backpack that was half the size of mine #shame)
the first two hours when you really believe that your ride is going to be comfortable because you think you have decent leg space
the view out of the window: sheep, buffalos, hills with green topknots, straw roofs, brick roofs and plate ones, river beds, stilts villages on water, goose, green and yellow and tall grass, horizons broken by unexpected bell towers.
staff seems rude (maybe a few cultural misunderstandings) and speaks very little English, so when you get dumped at 5 am at the back of a gas station in the middle of nowhere it is a bit frustrating not to know when your next bus will come, if you have to wait here, if you have time for toilet and if there is one, and if we are talking 15 mins wait on the side of the road or one and half hours.
you get overcharged because you are a tourist but there is not much you can do about it
people, especially locals, will fill up the once empty corridor and end up sleeping on the floor very very close to you
sometimes the bus has no toilet but you won’t know it in advance, and sometimes they don’t stop very often.
when they say they provide for hotel pickup to the bus stop, what they mean is that a motorbike guy will stack you and your fifteen bags on a scooter and take you to a random sidewalk corner, with twenty or thirty other foreigners and His Majesty the bus will show up one hour later, if you are lucky.
It is worth researching the bus company to pick before embarking on a day long trip -lesson learnt and shared with you.