Sapa to Hanoi, Vietnam
I don’t think bus rides agree very much with older Vietnamese women. There are two of them on my bus right now, both vomiting like sailors on a bender. And If there’s one thing that makes me vomit, it’s the smell of vomit. Thankfully I keep my breakfast just where I like it – down.
I’m taking the bus from Sapa to Lao Cai to catch the day train back to Hanoi, and as the driver circles through town, the tout yells out the window, trying his damndest to get bums in seats. When the older ladies board, pyjama-clad (because you’re never certain when the opportunity for a nap may present itself) they shimmy up to the window, open it full wide, and put on their best woman-in-agony faces.
They know what’s coming.
Shortly into the ride they gag like furball-choked Tabbies. A Duelling Banjos in retch. My friend Dave likes to call it “the throwing of the up.” Gratefully, there are plastic sandwich-sized sickness bags in each seat pocket, and they are on the receiving end for the better part of the journey. After use, like most things the Vietnamese have no further need for, they get fired out the window.
One chap is travelling with his grandmother. Or perhaps it’s a May-December romance, I’m not sure. I don’t think i could have held a bag while my nan threw up into it, but God love him, he did just that. Then, when her strength failed her, he fired it out the window. Now that’s devotion.
When we get to the train station, we go our separate ways, I search for my car, and then settle into my seat. It’s 9:30 am and we’re off to a rousing start. The gentleman seated across from me plays “I Don’t Want No Short Dick Man” from his phone.
It’s going to be a long ride.
- Buy your ticket from Lao Cai to Hanoi at the train station in Lao Cai instead of in Sapa. Hotels in Sapa will charge almost double the price if you are taking a soft seat train, and then staple a “Please arrive at the train station at least 30 minutes prior to departure” notice to it in an attempt to cover the actual train fare.
- Minivans leave regularly from Sapa to the train station in Lao Cai. Most hotels charge 40,000 Dong (around $2 US), or you can just walk to the main square outside the tourist information office and flag one down from there.