The “Hell Bus”

Well, I made it to Laos on the notorious hell-bus. Lonely Planet describes the Hanoi-Vientiane bus ride as only for the truly masochistic. I guess that’s me.

I had been dreading the ride for a month from the moment I entered Southeast Asia, and spent the day before Googling “Hanoi-Vientiane bus ride” to psyche myself up for the ride. It really was not that bad, though- no worse than the ridiculous rides I took in Bolivia and at least there weren’t that many cliffs to fall off. And once we crossed the border into Laos, the scenery was a slice of heaven (on the hell bus).

Our bus driver stops to light incense and pay homage to spirits along the way

Our bus driver stops to light incense and pay homage to spirits along the way

I think the person that had the most hellish experience was this poor Swedish guy. We got to the Vietnam-Laos border at 6:30 am after riding the bus for 12 hours (it would be another 12 hours to Vientiane), where we proceeded to get stamped out of Vietnam and stamped into Laos, walking across the border. The poor dude had a smudged stamp on his Vietnam visa as a result of a wet passport and the border official told him his only option was to go back to Vietnam. Which meant another 12 hour journey back to Hanoi. And paying $40 to get back into Vietnam. And then re-doing the 24-hour bus ride after that. I would really really hate to be him right now.

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~ by ceciliabien on June 5, 2009.

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