The bus ride from Hell

(By Nate)

    The shuttle from the hotel to the ferry was right on time.  The ferry was air conditioned and pleasant.  The shuttle from the ferry picked us up just as the ferry arrived and took us to the bus station in Ha Tien. The issues stared when they pointed to our bus. A guy slid out from under the bus with a small pipe. He had his shirt rolled halfway up his chest, resting on his gut. I joked to McKayla, “haha, I hope that’s our bus driver.”  Be careful what you joke about. Our driver had a side-kick; we’ll call him ‘the conductor’.  The driver was a flat tire of a guy while the conductor was a noisy little guy that made sure everyone was on the bus and that the seat nearest the door was his and his alone. 

     Although the buswaited in the bus station for nearly an hour, as soon as we left, we stopped at agasstation to fuel up and so the driver could use the bathroom.  When the bus was done fueling, we began rolling backward. No one was in the driver seat, we just slowly began rolling backwards toward the road and oncoming traffic. Three men ran after the bus, the conductor jumped in the side door and into the driver seat to slam on the breaks. Our back end only made it into one lane of traffic before we came to a stop. 

      At this point, we considered trying to find another way to Can Tho; maybe we should have.  We started driving at about 15 mph with the conductor hanging out the open door with 20,000 dong stuck to his forehead and yelling at every stand we drove by. We think he was trying to buy cigarettes or trying to get people to ride the bus. The first two hours, I don’t think we broke 20 mph but in all fairness the bus driver was busy yelling at the conductor, talking on his phone, texting, smoking or a combination of 2 or 3 of those things at once.  However, once the driver realized we were running late, he woke up, his speed kicked up a few notches and we were flying. Anytime we went through a small town, rather than slowing down, he would just lay on the horn the whole time.  He came within inches of motos, huge trucks, kids on bikes, you name it. He was so close, the conductor would hang out the window and hit the trucks and moto drivers on the head while yelling something at them.  I honestly thought this would be my first witnessing of a homocide. Since we were in such tiny seats, we couldn’t really move around to see but I was sure this asshole was leaving a wake of wrecked motos. 

The conductor hanging out the door with money on his face


  Twice the bus pulled over and the conductor got out with a flathead screwdriver and did God knows what. Those two stops were only a minute. When the bus broke down for real, the driver and the conductor headed out with an old ammo box of rusty tools. Ten sweaty, smoke-filled minutes later, we were up and running again. I’d never been so relieved to see a bus station. We made it. We were 45 minutes late but we made it to Can Tho. 

      To my recollection, I’ve never been car sick, sea sick or air sick but I almost threw up twice on this ride. Mostly out of fear that the bus I was on was going to kill someone or crash head on with one of the several trucks he played chicken with. The worst transportation experience… ever? I hate Frontier but this company was certainly worse. I couldn’t even warn you to stay away from this company because there was no name on the bus or the ticket, just hell bus. 


4 replies »

  1. Omg, what an exciting read from the outside, however, not a laughing matter! Vietnam amazed me so much with their driving skills. One night I did an overnight bus and well let’s just say, I never did another!. I also did a local bus ride and had a very similar experience, the worst thing I can remember was running and jumping on while the bus was still moving and then when it was time to get off, we had to jump and run to keep up with ourselfs. I’m glad to hear you survived your ordeal in Vietnam.

    Liked by 1 person

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