I have been on a few x-rated journeys in my time. Any overnight bus journey (especially Odessa to Sevastopol 2011), the freezing Nis to Sofia train that I have already recounted on this blog, a car breakdown a few miles outside Ipswich on the way back to Devon, a turbulence ridden flight on a Tupolev turboprop flight to Bulgaria and my attempt at paragliding that ended with a crash landing in the sea, again in Bulgaria, spring instantly to mind.
However the devil of all journeys was a minibus journey between Na Trang and Hoi An during Vietnam’s worst floods in living memory back in November ’98.
My travel buddy Hamish was sick from drinking contaminated water so spent the whole journey groaning, the driver insisted on playing wailing Vietnamese music on full blast, the road was badly potholed and flowing with surface water the entire route so we continually bumped up and down as well as hitting large puddles that made our minibus jolt uncomfortably, we dramatically aquaplaned a couple of times and nearly ended up in a ditch on both occasions and as night fell, we were dazzled continually by horn blowing juggernauts that seemed to be playing ‘chicken’ with us!
The seven-hour trip eventually took thirteen, in the main due to the fact that the prime bridge on the route had been very badly damaged in the floods making it too treacherous to use and a single pontoon had been put temporarily in its place.
The jams were of giant proportions and at one stage our tiring driver decided to pull out past the stationery vehicles that waited patiently and race along the empty road until such time as oncoming traffic headed towards us.
Somehow he managed to squeeze back onto the right side of the road to let the on-comers flash past. A hair-raising experience that had probably saved us ninety-minutes, but terrified us all in the process.
I could go on, but will save the full gory details for a future book about my travels in the Middle & Far East………
After The Floods, Hoi An, Vietnam