Hanoi via Nanning…

(Lack of Internet access and a week off of the blog has led to a major backlog in writing. I’ll try to get caught up before I leave Vietnam, but no guarantees…)

They say it was a typhoon. I haven’t read the weather report myself, but it certainly looked and felt like one. We took a seven hour bus from Yangshuo to Nanning and mostly saw beautiful scenery drenched in rain.

We arrived in Nanning in a covered station, grabbed our bags, bought a ticket for Hanoi the next day and searched for a bus in the pouring rain. To hell with this. We took a cab although our paper map was now soaked and torrn. The driver was not impressed with Sara trying to put the clumps of paper together to form an address. But, again, it was a typhoon we walked through.

Eventually, our drenched bags and bodies made it to the hostel. Dry clothes, a mediocre supper, a lame movie on television. Bed.

Up at 6am and out at 7. Walk through the rain and get on a packed bus. Arrive at an even more packed station and, for our first time in China, there’s no English whatsoever. But this is China and helpful people point us in the right direction.

The ride was uneventful with a nerviousness of what was coming up to the south. A brief stop for lunch, one military checkpoint, 15 minutes later, the actual border.

Our bus drops us off and we take a shuttle to passport control. The Chinese side is clean and efficient. We go through, get our stamp and we’re out of China. Done.

We walk about 50 metres alone to a gate where a couple guys in uniform are chatting. They usher us through, glance at our passport as though this is what they’re supposed to do, but they don’t really care.

Vietnames passport control is not clean and efficient. It’s a counter with guards sitting behind glass and a packed cluster of angry Chinese people on the other side. One woman who spoke English told us the guards were asking for a 10Y bribe. The Chinese stick the money in their passports. One lady refused and was told there would be a one and a half hour wait plus medical checkup. Yikes.

We don’t pay and nothing is said. Instead our passport is thrown in a pile in front of a guy with his uniform unbuttoned, head back, yawning. Sara sits down with our bags. I wait at the counter. Finally, he slowly looks through and scans our passports, another guy stamps and passes back.

Brief medical check requiring us to look into some sort of camera. Baggage scan. On another shuttle (Chinese give more money) and on a bus to Hanoi.

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