Much like in Thailand, mopeds and motorbikes are the primary means of transport in Vietnam. Our travel day, however, introduced me to a new phenomenon: Vietnamese, long-haul, sleeper buses. On Sunday, we took a bus from An Bang Beach to Son Trach, a small town just outside Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. Our guesthouse host was kind enough to get us tickets ahead of time and to take us to the bus station. The “station” in An Bang is a spot on the side-walk with no signs where all of the buses coming from Hoi An stop. I could probably find the stop again, but I wouldn’t know which bus to flag down.
I was quite amused by this system, but I was even more intrigued when I got on the bus. First, we had to take our shoes off. This is common practice when entering buildings across Thailand and Vietnam, but it was the first time I had been asked to take them off on a bus. Then, I saw the seats. These were adjustable, sleeper seats. I could sit down, stretch out my legs and tilt my chair back almost to a full 180 degrees. Suffice it to say that this was my most comfortable, long-haul bus experience. Of course, it helped that the ticket was only US$15. In Vietnam, $15 is expensive, but as a foreigner it feels cheap for a 7-hour bus ride.
The bus would have been enough to entertain me for the day, but fortunately we got to experience more transportation adventures when we arrived in Son Trach. Our guesthouse was about 6km out of the city. Our host and her son came to pick us up on mopeds. They brought two bikes, put our luggage between their feet and had us sit on the back. For me, it was thrilling. The sun was setting on the mountains and I laughed as I hung on to a young kid driving a bike with more skill than I have.