The event started off in a pretty normal manner we booked an overnight bus to take us to the border town of PingXiang from Yangshou. We found the notion of not ‘needing’ a ticket a tad strange but not completely unheard of. So as the clock struck 18:30 our taxi van arrived; we boarded the van with Jake an Aussie dude and headed to Yangshou. We arrived in Yangshou and the taxi driver walked us around to the CITS ticket office and relayed our information to the woman and then leaves, the CITS women (number 2 in the chain) gives us a business card with a hand written number on and told us to call the number on arrival at Guilin and someone will meet us. We were then taken to the bus station where a busy bus is waiting for us; we were ushered on, bags thrown underneath.
Then we were off Guilin bound, T is sitting in the front seat which was a ghastly experience, a full coach speeding at round 70km, overtaking, overtaking cars, horns blasting as we speeded down the wrong side of the road moving cars driving towards us moving out of the way. One hour later and we arrived at Guilin, we called the number jotted down on the business card and this dude appeared and took us to a hostel bar and told us to wait for an hour and someone will collect us.
On cue a lady appeared and off we go, we walk 10 minutes and stood on a street corner, here we waited for 20 minutes – still no ticket. The bus arrived and we boarded, no room under the bus so our bags go on top of the numerous sacks of ‘stuff’ commandeering the backs seats, we try to relax in some awfully uncomfortable seats and off we went, the bus was full, babies crying and the usual incessant honking of horns, thankfully we had ear plugs which provided some respite, and we fall asleep.
We stopped in an underground bus station, the time was 3:30am, another woman comes on gesturing us to get off, the three of us having just woken up, no idea what anyone is saying, where we were? No-one else on the bus appeared to be moving which added to the confusion. After continued gesturing from this lady we donned our packs and walked out into this bus station, we followed her to yet another bus and were told to board, our bags went into the hold and we boarded a sleeper bus was about a third full. We choose a bed each and fall straight back a sleep. We awake to the sun beaming through the window, the time was 7am and we pulled into to another bus station and the lights come on and the engine is cut. We discovered we had arrived at PingXiang bus station.
Yet another woman (woman number 5) came up saying something to us we determined it was a taxi driver and through the art of pointing we get her to take us to the Vietnam boarder for 30 Yuan. We were in the taxi for about 10 mins and we arrived at what looked like national park entrance, we got out and to our confusion, thankfully a Chinese chap happened to walking by who could speak English and explained that we had to walk 200 metres through the friendship pass and the boarder is there. We complete the short walk and arrive at the border at 7:30am.
We went through customs, noticing straight away we had left China and entered Vietnam, the Vietnamese are definitely not as organised as the Chinese!!!
Once the other side of the boarder we strolled down to try and find a way to Hanoi. We negotiate a taxi to the Capital – $20 USD each and off we go. 20 mins into the journey we turned off the motorway and drive into a court yard where we have to buy a ‘ticket’ so we hand over our negotiate dollars and get a ticket. We were then told we had to change cars as there was something wrong with the wheel. We changed into a minivan, and then proceeded to drive round the area collecting people and boxes for the next 30 mins before finally heading off towards Hanoi.
We finally arrived in Hanoi at 1pm and walked to our hostel, Little Hanoi Hotel $22 a night for a lovely double en-suite; on arrival the hostel lady gave us $5 each because we turned up. They provide free airport, bus and train station pick up as it’s the only way they guarantee that people will actually turn up and stay at their hostel. This hostel was fab.
So after 18 hours and some very strange experiences and earning $5 USD each we put our bags down in our room in Hanoi!!!!!!!
Bloger: Tony and George