The overnight budget sleeper buses in Vietnam can be pretty alright, especially from Ho Chi Min to Muine, and from Muine to Na Trang. However, going from Na Trang to Hoian can be an interesting experience.
It started off almost normal: The bus swung by our hotel and picked us up. There were other Westerners there. One kept laughing with an odd sporadic laugh reminiscent of the laugh Dax Shepard affected in Idiocracy, probably watching something similar to what Dax's character was watching in the film.
At one point a few Vietnamese were either yelling or speaking very passionately to one another about something for a good 15 minutes. I couldn't tell which. Maybe they were acting for us, doing an impromptu drama? If so, the acting was excellent; I could feel the heat from their fiery shouts.
This was all normal. The first thing that was not normal, at least for me, was the fact that they put all of our stuff at the back of the bus instead of under it.
What was under the bus? Cocaine? A dance party for HATH (hobbits accustomed to heat)? Used socks? Another dimension? No-one knows except for the bus people. That was okay. I was ready for the 12-hour ride.
Then it got a bit weird. And not weird as in people started morphing into cartoon drawings because someone slipped some ground peyote into my fun dip.
It got weird because suddenly it seemed as though we were stopping a lot and picking up more people than the bus could hold.
Stop, pick up. Stop, pick up.
As I’ve stated in previous posts, I’m no mathematician, however by counting the number of available beds against the number of passengers boarding I wondered how the hell it was going to work.
No matter. Just as I didn't concern myself with annoying chuckles and fighting Vietnamese, I didn't concern myself with this either. I've never been very good at math anyway.
I went back to my computer. My travel buddy asked what the sign said at the back of the bus. I told her it said “No Smoking.” Note: I found out later that she wanted to know if it was a bathroom. I knew that it was a bathroom, but I didn’t know that she didn’t know that, and thought she was just curious about what the red sign said. Sorry Lo!
About an hour later I realized I should use the restroom before I tried to get some VBS (VietBusSleep), however, when I looked down I noticed that the floor had people sleeping on it.
So this is where they were putting all those people. Well, fuck.
I hadn't yet mastered the art of floating at that time, so I was essentially stuck. I was on a top bunk, every bed was filled, and the floor right under me had sleeping humans on it. I was stuck.
So what did I do? Did I just say “fuck all of these crazy societal norms, I’m pissing my pants!” No. Not yet. I'm still hanging on to the fundamental societal customs, especially when it comes to personal hygiene.
As I'm still in my semi-sane years I decided instead to just become a Vietnam Sleeper Bus Gymnast. That's a thing, right?
I pretzeled my body and deftly (I’d like to think) maneuvered my way between beds until I could gain access to a part of the floor that didn’t have sleeping humans on it. I'm not sure how I did it without climbing over a lot of people, but I do know that if I had not succeeded I would've have made someone either very unhappy or happy, depending on whether they needed some physical contact.
Other than that it was bearable. I mean, it was uncomfortable as fuck, but I expected as much in certain places.
I'm telling you this story so that I can say this: I would rather be in an uncomfortable-as-fuck bus in Vietnam with annoying Westerner laughs, fighting Vietnamese, dancing hobbits in the storage, people-sleeping-on-the-floor-making-me-become-a-gymnast-just-to-use-the-bathroom, rather than being stuck in a cubicle.
No joke. No offense to those who love their jobs and work in a cubicle; that's actually beautiful as long as it isn't slowly killing you emotionally and physically.
Next up: I'm Just a Guy Trying to Buy Maxi Pads in a Remote Northern Vietnam Village