Travelers Notebook: 24 Hours & $24 to Hanoi – Part 5

In the most recent post in this series, our funds have been largely depleted and we’re still a long way from the nearest ATM in Hanoi. But after 12 hours and saying goodbye to most of our $24, we’re hungry and without enough to pay for a room tonight… I’ll pick up the direct transcription of my notes where we left off last time:

We pack into the minibus and pass through tiny Kay-Son, with a brief stop at an office where we have a bit of pho, do some paperwork, pay our fare and then head down the road. Things are looking up. Suddenly the driver pulls over just beyond the the town limits, demanding another dollar for each of our bags. We’re insulted and exhausted with bargaining, but also nearly out of cash. We politely refuse at first, and the crew explains again and again, growing more frustrated with us until our driver finally throws a bit of a tantrum, shoves our packs into our laps, curses, pounds his fists and turns the bus around. Our Swedish friends panic a bit and we agree to pay extra. The bus then continues returning to the office to fill up with gas, making it clear they never actually planned to leave and it had actually all been a dramatic play to extort a few extra bucks from us.

Despite our constant badgering of the bus crew, we wait in front of the office for two and a half hours while they eat dinner and drink inside. They tell us we should go find some dinner while we wait. We give up a little more of our precious Dong for more pho, water and a bag of crackers and we also loan the Swedes a few small bills to eat. After dinner, we return to badger the crew a little more aggressively. Our driver tries to load our bags into a yet-unseen luggage compartment, but we refuse to let him since we had already paid extra for them to ride in the bus. This leads to more fist-pounding.

The Young Crew walks away from me when I ask again about our departure, but the father invites me in for spring rolls and shots of lethally strong rice whiskey, served from a jug that at one time contained either antifreeze or motor oil, which I think might explain the burning. I feel a bit bought off by his kind gesture, but am too hungry and tired of Pho to care. But the drunken conversation that our driver is now having with his father is quite disconcerting, even though I cant understand a word…

It’s now dark, our driver is drunk and we haven’t made any progress towards Hanoi in the last four hours. A tide of resignation comes over us and we wonder why we didn’t head back to Thailand instead…. TO BE CONTINUED….

Related Posts:

Travelers Notebook: 24 Hours & $24 to Hanoi – Part 4
Travelers Notebook: 24 Hours & $24 to Hanoi – Part 3
Travelers Notebook: 24 Hours & $24 to Hanoi – Part 2
Travelers Notebook: 24 Hours & $24 to Hanoi – Part 1