It all started well. I woke up late this morning, showered, ate a couple of teeny weeny bananas for breakfast, read some, and then I decided it was time to face the world and attempt to buy a bus ticket. And so I sallied forth, blithely unaware of the misadventures which would befall me.
I should have aborted my mission when I was informed that the guy who works in the hostel who speaks some form of English was away for the day and wouldn't be back until 5, but I was confident in my ability to get a bus ticket so I pressed on. The lady who had been left in charge did not speak English, so I tried my handy dandy piece of paper that my tour guide had given me, sadly she could either not read, or had trouble with the hand writing. But I was undeterred, I have not been playing charades every Christmas for nothing. Charades for "I need to go to the bus station so I can buy a ticket to get to Tra Vinh on Wednesday, and then I need to come back" is not the easiest one but I won out.
I should have given up when my potential Xe Om driver showed up dressed only in boxer shorts, but I waited for him to put on a shirt, then I saw his vehicle, it was held together with tape, I really should have given up at this point, but I was filled with blind optimism following my successful game of charades, and I had an unfounded good feeling about the day, so I set off regardless.
It was all going quite well until I got to the bus station, the Xe Om guy was singing to me, and the sun was shining, life was rosy. When I got to the station it all started to go drastically down hill. First of all it became patently obvious that no one spoke English, second of all everyone was shouting at me. It was a little a lot terrifying. So I decided to call Violet for a pep talk and advice. Unfortunately, despite the fact that I was carrying out the conversation entirely in English, my Xe Om driver decided that the person on the other end of the phone was clearly a Vietnamese individual who would be able to explain the crazy white girl who he had driven half way across town. So clearly the only thing to do was to take my phone and start talking to poor old Violet. Sadly, when she did not live up to his expectations he started shouting at her too.
After some more careful charades, I managed to ascertain that the bus to Tra Vinh on Wednesday leaves at 6am, and that I would not be able to buy a ticket until the day itself.
Thankful that the ordeal was over, I climbed back on the Xe Om ready to be taken home. The bike had other ideas, a large part fell off, and I fell of with it. Most of the bus station laughed at me. I got back up, and the driver picked up the portion that had fallen off and drove me to the repair shop. Thus my charades for "if you decide to take 150lbs of white girl on your motorbike and it breaks, this white girl is not going to pay for the damages" started. I'm not sure he really understood, but he got the picture.
I wound up paying 150,000 Vietnamese dong, which is about $7 or a fiver or so, for the whole horrible venture. The driver promised to take me to the station on Wednesday morning. I am going to try to figure out how to get a taxi.