31.05.2014 - 01.06.2014
When you first step onto one of the overnight sleeper buses in Vietnam you think they’re pretty smart. They’re clean, look fairly new and have nice reclining seats for you to sit or sleep on. When I first began the trip from Hoi An to Nha Trang I even started to enjoy the journey as I listened to music and relaxed while watching the scenery go by.
It’s only when you try to sleep that you find the problems occur. Firstly the seats don’t fully recline. Instead of folding back fully horizontally, the back half of the seat stays 30 degrees upright to allow storage under your seat. This must also save space in the bus and allows them to fit more passengers in, but my advice to them is BUY BIGGER BUSES because it makes it incredibly difficult to sleep if, like me, you never seem able to fall asleep on your back.
I tried sleeping on my back in a reclined position but that didn’t work and I kept getting an incredibly sore neck as my head flopped sideways with the movement of the bus. I tried sleeping on my side, but the angle of the seat and the cramped conditions made it uncomfortable and the hard seat below made it feel like I had been punched in the ribs due to lying on them for several hours. The fake leather upholstery makes you sweat and stick to the fabric and the lights in the bus, that they switch on just before making a stop, wakes you up just as you think you’re about to drop off.
About an hour before the bus arrived at its destination (5am) I found the comfiest solution – I laid on my back and supported my neck on one side with my hand luggage. It was cramped but it helped. However I still couldn’t get any proper sleep knowing I’d be getting off shortly.
All in all I think I got less than an hours sleep but it still ranks better than being chucked off the bus at 2am in an unknown spot in China with no idea how to get somewhere safe.
Needless to say, I have now booked a flight to Ho Chi Minh City to avoid another sleepless night on a bus.
On the upside, I don’t feel too tired and I did get to see this in Nha Trang…