Saturday, February 21, 2009


Day 344
We got up at 6 am so that we would have light to pack in and still be able to make it to the 8am boat listed in our guidebooks. When we went to pay for our hut there was some confusion. Most families here have a few huts they rent out to tourists. The three here were run by the wife in the family. She spoke limited English, but wasn't anywhere to be seen. Instead we had to pay her husband. I handed him the money (120,000 kip) and told him that we had been there for 3 nights. He then looked at the money and told us that it was 40,000 a night. I said that I know and that's why I had given him 120,000. He then said ok, ok, fine fine. I think he thought that we were trying to bargain with him. In the end we just had to leave, we didn't' want to miss the boat.

When we got to the ticket office we found out that the boat didn't leave until 9:30. We sat down at a nearby place to have breakfast and continue writing. Three days of limited electricity was just about as much as we could handle and we were ready to go. The boat this time only took an hour. Once at the pier we found out that we had 15 minutes to run up the hill to the bus stop to make the bus that we wanted. This was a big hill, but we were determined.

The guy at the ticket office told us to come back and buy the ticket at 12:30, we would have two hours to kill. We grabbed snacks at a nearby place and kept writing to pass the time. At 12:30 I walked back to the bus station, I was now told that the bus had gone and that we would have to wait for the night bus that came between 7 and 8 pm. This was really irritating and basically killed our ability to be in Hanoi the next night.

A nearby hotel had some small rooms that they rent out to watch movies in. With no other options we went there and watched Hancock and Borat. Around 5pm we had some dinner and headed to the bus stop. There was no way we were going to miss this one.

There were a bunch of kids hanging out there and we seemed to be their evening entertainment. Nicole and I played Uno while the kids watched. They wanted to play as well and we let them, this was pretty hard though as they all just wanted to put cards in the pile and not play by any rules. Eventually we gave up and taught them the chicken dance and played rock paper scissors for an eternity. One by one the kids were called home until there was only one left. She kept asking us to give her money.

During this time we had different people tell us different times for the buses. One said 8, one 9, another 11 and one guy said that it would come tonight. Great. We passed the time chatting about anything we could come up with and with anyone who wandered by. A creepy local guy with his zipper down hovered around us for a while and asked for money. We held our bags close.

Around 10 we had begun to lose hope. The town had shut down and we were sitting in the dark. All of the guest houses had closed for the evening. We had no place to go. At 10:30 the bus arrived, we had waited for 5 hours. The bus was full and we ended up with middle seats. This meant no seat backs for 12 hours. The people here are short, most of them shorter than me, even the men. Despite this they felt the need to have their legs out in the isle, taking up what little space we had. The guy on my right hand side seemed to think that my hip bone was his arm rest. It took a huge amount of wiggling to make him stop. Eventually I gave up my desire to not be touched and just laid down.
There was a box a few inches shorter than my seat that I was able to rest my head on.

After a few hours annoying arm rest man got off and I got his seat. Not too much longer Nicole got a seat as well. My seat mate kept opening the window no matter how many times I shut it or how loudly my teeth chattered. Nicole's seat mate didn't like the way she was sitting and smacked her on the bum a few times. When the bus was emptier she told Nicole to find another seat. How rude!

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