Adventures riding the bus in Vietnam: Part two

ben thanh bus station ho chi minh vietnam travel
Ben Thanh bus station, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Not that the unreliable transportation system in Vietnam doesn’t get me down sometimes, but riding the bus sure makes life interesting! As Reannon Muth said in November’s travel quote of the month, “Every boring or mundane activity you experience at home…is, when you move to a foreign country, suddenly transformed into an exciting adventure.”

So, ask yourself: If your bus broke down, what would you do? Would you sit there, irritated with the world? Or would you make the memory worth it?

Your average situation

Two hours after publishing the first installment of my bus adventures series, I found myself pushing my broken-down bus off the street.

Wait. I’m getting ahead of myself.

When I start telling people this story, it’s good to leave the best part for last. Because, I start by saying, “My bus broke down.”

The other person’s reaction is usually, “Ah, that’s normal in Vietnam.” And they shrug it off.

Then I say, “I helped push it off the street.”

And then they’re like, “You WHAT?!”

It all started when, uh, actually I’m not sure what happened. One moment we were going down the road just fine, then the driver slowed down for some reason. I don’t know whether it was to go over a bump or to maneuver through traffic. Next thing I know, the bus is drifting to the left, into the path of an oncoming bus. I could tell the gear was stuck in neutral, because the bus beep-beep-beeped at the driver as he tried to switch the gear again and again.

Drifting…drifting…Really?? You have brakes. You’re going to let us drift this far into the other lane?

At long last, we came to a halt. Our bus hadn’t left much room for the other bus to get around. Watch this video to see for yourself.

Not your average expat

Neither the driver nor the ticket lady paid much attention to me. I tried asking questions, but they were distracted. Hopping on and off the bus, they were saying things I didn’t understand.

Finally, the driver sat back down at his seat. At least four men, plus the ticket girl, banded together to push our huge bus off the street.

I was the only passenger on the bus, but I felt like a selfish foreigner, just standing and watching these people work so hard. That’s when I decided.

“I’m getting down,” I said to the man pushing from the second doorway. “To help.”

He didn’t say anything. He was probably in shock.

I was kind of in shock myself. There I was, a tall white girl in a full-length dress, pushing a broken-down bus off the street in Vietnam.

Here’s the thing: I had to help! Until I got OFF the bus, it wasn’t going anywhere. Which either indicates that I am super heavy or super strong.

Don’t worry, this story has a happy ending. Though I was running out of time, I was able to catch another bus that passed by the same road. And I still had time to catch dinner on the way to my destination!





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