Today, we had to travel in towards the city to teach our kindergarten and high school – age English classes. Which meant (as we are still too chicken to get with the program and get a motorbike), taking the bus. Interesting thing about the public buses in Vietnam (or at least around Hanoi), they don’t stop. They slow down, and you are expected to run alongside them and jump to get on. Same thing when you are getting off, the bus slows, you jump out and then run a few meters (that’s right, meters, not yards) while you wait for you momentum to slow. It’s basically like Divergent (the audio book we listened to while driving across the country). And, we have survived. Our French roommate informed us that we are now off to a good start in Vietnam.
On the way home, however, we were so proud of our new bus boarding skills that we jumped on the first one we saw, which was, unfortunately, going further into the city. We looked like the confused gringos we were, pointed at a couple of things written on a piece of paper, and then began to actually freak out as the bus got on the big bridge headed into the city. But then, a nice man in the back of the bus saved us by using his English skills and familiarity with the bus schedule to redirect us. They didn’t charge us for that first ride, and the gentleman told us where to get off the bus to change lines heading back out of the city, and another man even jumped (yes, jumped) off with us to ensure that we didn’t mess it up again — gesturing to where we needed to go. Boarding our next bus, we said the name of landmark by our stop and everyone nodded indicating that we were in the right place. They gestured for us to take a seat by them and proceeded to take care of us the whole way — helping us get the right bills to get the fare, and making sure that the bus slowed down so that we could get off at the right stop. Thanks to the English-speaking gentleman on bus 53 headed into Hanoi this evening, and his friend who got off with us, and to the entire group of helpful folks on bus 56A — you all rock, and we are so grateful. We wouldn’t be sitting in our apartment drinking a beer (which you can buy from apartment #206 downstairs for 10,000 dong — 50 cents) right now without you.