Monday, March 2, 2009

Stress Test

Day 353
We were up early and quickly packed our things before heading out to get the bus.

The bus was short and we were at the dock in no time. We were worried that our bags would fall over the edge as there wasn't a guard rail. Luckily this didn't happen. I did manage to slip on the gangway and bruised my knee. We then had to take two more buses to get to Hanoi, it took forever.

Our bags had been put wrong side down on the bus and the part that went against our backs was covered in dirt. We attracted quite a crowd as we tried to wash them off on the street. When we were slightly cleaner we got a ride to the train station and found an internet cafe to make a phone call. The person who had our train tickets would meet us there at 8 pm.

We were pretty hungry at this point and wandered off to find some food. We sat at the restaurant for ages killing time. We felt the need to have some local food. It was a bit funny though and we ended up not being able to eat it without gagging.

Before 8pm we were at the train station sitting at the ticket office just as we had told them we would. By 8:15 we were still there without any tickets. I stayed with the bags while Nicole ran over to the internet cafe to try and figure out where they were. About 15 minutes later I grew worried that she didn't have enough money on her so I carried all the bags across the street. She was close to finding the guy and told me to hurry back. About 10 minutes later she found me with the ticket guy. As far as we knew the train left at 9 pm and we had to really run for it.

The guy then asked if he could have a tip for all of his running around. Nicole handed him 10,000 dong. He told us that that wasn't enough. This made me pretty angry and I told him that I found it very rude that not only would he ask for a tip but that he would then demand more money than we offered. He seemed pretty offended at this and told us that it would be free and put the money on one of the beds and left. I was really appaled that he would ask for anything at all. How hard is it to find two blonde women in a sea of locals? We had also been charged a 50% fee on the tickets for booking them from Cat Ba.

As it turned out the train didn't leave until 10 so there hadn't been any need to run. We lucked out and shared our cabin with an Israeli couple, the locals tend to spit and smoke in theirs so this was really good. I soon fell asleep as the train rattled on.

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