OK before once again heading on an 11-hour journey from Hanoi to Phong Nha, I have to tell you about the Sleeper-Buses. So the idea sounds just perfect: You get on a bus in the evening, go to sleep and when you wake up the next morning you’ll be in a different city. Plus the buses have those laying-down kind of seats, well you know they fold down almost flat so you can actually lay there and get some sleep.
So the idea sounds pretty good, right? Well let's check the reality. So the seats do sound great but only if you are small and travel with no carry-on luggage of any sort. If you are like me a bit taller then you won’t fit into the seats and the bag you take on board has to go onto your lap the whole journey. Ok still better than a regular bus and solved if you are just small...let’s get to the lights. The windows are surrounded by red and blue LEDs which might look nice but makes it rather bright if you’re trying to sleep next to them. Ok once again this can be solved easily by just wearing a sleeping-mask. Oh yea but the Vietnamese bus-drivers don’t really seem to like silence, I mean that would be really tiring. So they play some loud Vietnamese pop-music, talk (rather scream) on the phone and of course engage the horn several times every time you encounter any trace of another car.
Oh and you want to know why the journeys take so long? Well it’s not just the condition of the roads or the traffic. No the drivers just like to make some extra money by making unscheduled stops along the way to pick up or drop off some extra passengers that are just standing on the side of the freeway. Seriously is there some kind of secret timetable or how do those people know when to stand at what random place at the road?
Well enough of the rant, the buses to work and bring you to your destination eventually and in some sort of comfort. If you are backpacking in Asia it is just a must do to take one of these buses and if you have the time they are a really cheap way to get around the land. Just remember to take your shoes off and all will be fine.
I will continue using them from time to time but since my schedule in Asia is really tight and flights are cheap I won’t be using them exclusively. Oh and I stand by my decision for the 1 hour flight from Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh City (hey it’s just 20€) instead of the 17 hour bus-ride. I mean I want to see something of the city before leaving again for Thailand.