The Bus Ride from Hell

Two things about our visit to Quy Nhon that really stick out about the trip. First, we embarked on a hellish six-hour bus trip to get there, and second, we ended up being the only Westerners in this coastal city located in Central Vietnam.

The bus trip from hell…

Everything about the bus trip started out great – we were the only passengers in a 16-passenger van when we boarded in Hoi An. And even as we headed out of the city, only four other passengers joined us. We had plenty of room to spread out, we’d purchased extra Bahn Mi sandwiches for the journey, and we had A/C – which was cranked. But then the passengers kept pouring in, and the driver kept going faster – all while talking on one cell phone and texting on another. I knew we were in for a bit of trouble when the locals sitting behind me started throwing up. About half way through our trip I counted 26 passengers crammed into the van, which equaled number of red lights and stop signs we failed to stop at. I’m sure it also equaled the number of pedestrians he’d run over during his “career”, but thankfully we didn’t kill anyone on the drive (amazingly… I pegged us going about 85 mph through a village right as school let out).

Except for screaming Jesus’s name in vain at the top of my lungs as we almost hit an oncoming semi head on (and the night terror’s that still haunt me), I handled it pretty well (no vomiting!) – but my limits were stretched when darkness descended upon us and the driver cranked his hip-hop/techno music and synced it to a laser light show that started thumping  inside the bus. Grace and I simply couldn’t believe it was happening – and I kept waiting for someone to pop up shouting “you’ve been caught on Candid Camera… in a Foreign Country : )”, but it never came. Thankfully, neither of us had a seizure, but had it been dark the entire trip, you wouldn’t be reading this blog right now.  I’d share the video with you, but I don’t want you to lose your lunch : )

Grace in the lobby of the Saigon Quy Nhon

But we made it! And because we were thankful to be alive (but really because we didn’t want to have to end up staying at a hotel that, for whatever reason, blared hip hop/techno music and ran laser light shows all night), we splurged and stayed at the tallest, ritziest, hotel in town (the Saigon Quy Nhon – $59).  The king-size bed was nice, being across the street from the ocean was even better, but the greatest feature was the hot shower that worked. Grace and I tease each other of our first world problems, which having hot showers that work with consistency and for long periods of time is a priority for us.  I think we could have had a more local experience, but the bus ride had done me in.

And did I mention that our hotel was across the street from the ocean? Except for our views from the train, this would be our first real time glimpse of the Pacific looking east. We’d get to see the sun rise over the Pacific Ocean rather than setting into it (which tends to be a favorite activity of ours when we’re vacationing on the Oregon Coast).

Grace and I stood out in Quy Nhon. We were truly the only Westerners in the city. Our first walk along the boardwalk, motorbikes would slow and heads would turn as others saw us. We had a car stop to take a look at us, speed off, then stop again to get a closer look. We went to our first restaurant where there was no English translation of food items. We successfully chose chicken, but somehow had the proprietor “talk us into” ordering some crazy dinosaur fish, as well. She laughed at us a lot.

We spent less than 24 hours in Quy Nhon, but got to see much of it thanks to sweeping views from the hotel roof, and from our hike in search of secluded beaches.

If you look closely at the photo below, you can see the giant statue of Tran Hung Doa in the background, giving China the finger.

And in our final moments in the city before we caught a cab to the train station, we ran across a local market, which really shows the heart of a community. It was a great way to end our time in Quy Nhon, and we happened upon the best food of the trip – rice noodles with veggies and peanut sauce!


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