Honking Turrets

Vietnam is a long country and we’ve spent a lot of time traveling from Ho Chi Minh City in the South to Hanoi in the North. After a few shorter bus trips (around five hours each) we signed up for another night bus adventure. Immediately this one felt and looked a lot safer than the night bus we took in India.

Vietnam Sleeper Bus

As you can see from the picture, it’s quite a crazy set-up. We were on the second level and were thankful for seat belts. At least I was. Matt’s had been cut off; clearly someone had been annoyed by the invasive contraption. Seat belts haven’t been popular in the developing countries we’ve visited. While more comfortable than the night bus in India (I actually fell asleep for awhile and didn’t spend half of my time airborne), nothing could drown on the constant honking from both our bus driver and every one else on the road.

Honking. The incessant honking and crazy driving started in Egypt. We had a short break from it in Israel, but it started up again in India and has not stopped. As you can see from the picture above (taken from our bus – somehow we got through this five-lane mess at highway speeds) there are plenty of good reasons to honk. Riding around Vietnam (and just trying to walk across a street!) can be downright terrifying. Somehow drivers make sense of this chaos, weaving around one another and miraculously avoiding accidents. It’s a dance we can’t wrap our minds around.

The other day I tried counting how many times our bus honked (it went back and forth between the simple blast and the ever annoying fade away “echo” honk). Forty-five minutes and 80 honks later I gave up. So unless you’re equipped with ear plugs (most useful travel accessory, EVER), you probably won’t catch much shut eye. Every time I was awakened by honking I found I was automatically saying a prayer that we weren’t driving into a head-on collision.

But there was no need to worry. After coughing through the night, the next morning Matt discovered that Buddha had been watching over our perilous night journey. Tucked away in the front of the bus was a shrine of the female Buddha, complete with burning incense!

Thinking our luck on the road will inevitably run out, we’ll stick with the train for our longer journeys.

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[…] Over the last 24 days I first traveled in Vietnam, where I began in Hanoi and slowly made it down south to Ho Chi Minh City in just two weeks. While I learned a great deal, I think the most important lesson was to never, ever ride an overnight bus again.  […]

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