Yesterday was one of those moments when you have to take a long, hard look at yourself in the mirror and admit that you're not as hardcore as you thought you were. It all began when we decide to come to Vietnam during Tet. We thought "It's like New Year's, so maybe a few places will be closed." Nice try. In fact the entire country effectively shuts down as 90 million people all flock home for what Lonely Planet humorously describes as "Christmas, New Years and birthdays all rolled up into one." And it's totally plausible that all 90 million Vietnamese people are trying to take the same train as you. So on our trip down to Hue from Hanoi, we booked a pretty comfortable "soft sleeper" with two sets of bunk beds. I was on the top, Whitney was on the bottom. A friendly French girl was on the other top bunk. We all snuggled into our sleep cocoons and speculated who would be our final roommate. After a few minutes, a family of four stepped into the cabin (I say stepped but really, two had to jump on the bed immediately because there was no way four humans could stand at once). We thought "Oh, how sweet, the kids are sharing a bed and the parents are tucking them in." Wrong again. The whole family had exploited what seems like a pretty egregious loophole where you can book one bed and then have a family of four sleep in it. The mother and daughter were on the bed and the father/son graciously took the floor. After a moment of shock, we all got over it and fell asleep, with Whitney to wake up a few hours later to the nine-year old boy standing on the table and staring at her sleep. Hilarious. They were really sweet and we all shared some food and wished each other a Happy New Year.
But that's all backdrop for our true backpacking fail, which occurred after we arrived in Hoi An (gorgeous, pictures to follow and also on Instagram). We thought we could casually book another train to Saigon. NOPE. No trains for three weeks. No flights. The sleeper bus only had reclining seats and would take 22-hours. We could hire a motorbike and driver to escort us down the Ho Chi Minh Trail, but that would take five days and extremely sore butts. The last resort was a business class flight on Monday, three days after we intended to leave.
Faced with the choice between a 22-hour "sleeper bus" ride (which there are some hilarious descriptions of here and here) and an expensive business class flight, we caved. We tell ourselves it's because we're really safety-conscious, but in reality, we're not as hardcore as we thought. Oh well.