Chapter 20 of our short travel stories, shares some funny and exciting anecdotes from our times backpacking in Vietnam.
If you want to read more, click on the menu and go to the “Short Travel Stories” section!
Chapter 20: Backpacking Vietnam
We were arriving in Ha Noi after an incredible weekend in Ha Long Bay when I remembered I had to book a hostel for us that night. I took out my card and phone and booked a nice cheap hostel for the five of us. It was Andy, Kyle, John, Alex and I.
After I was done with the task I fell asleep and they woke me up when we arrived in Ha Noi. Getting off the bus here was a taxi driver offering his services right on the doorstep. Everybody said no but he kept his good mood, so good that I saw him spank the guy in front of me when he got down. Weird, I thought.
Once outside I was checking everything in my backpack when I felt that something was missing from my pocket. My wallet. And just like in movies, the moment I realized I didn’t have it on me, the bus left. I tried to chase it and yelled at it to stop, but nothing.
I had left my wallet in the bus with my credit cards, around two hundred dollars in cash and all my ID’s. Fuck. Fucking shit! I had never lost my wallet before and I didn’t want it to be in Vietnam for the first time.
The spanking taxi driver saw me worried and offered to help. I told him what happened and he said he knew the driver and knew where he was going. Andy and John left to the hostel and Kyle and Alex came with me.
Once inside the taxi I found the number of the bus company and phoned them to tell them what happened. Thank God a receptionist with really good English answered, I told her everything, described my wallet and all, and she told me that when the bus arrived at the terminal she’d personally look for the wallet and let me know. Great.
It was possible that they would steal the money, but I wanted the cards and the ID’s.
I then asked the taxi driver if we were headed to the terminal.
“No, not to the terminal. I know the driver. First he’s taking the bus for a car wash at another place, it’s like twenty minutes away from here”, he said.
That was strange. Wash the bus where? Why not at the terminal? Twenty minutes away? That’s far.
I started getting nervous, not because they were gonna hijack us or something, but because the taxi driver could be bulshitting us just to get more money. In the meantime, my wallet was in no mens land.
Just in case, I texted the receptionist telling her the taxi driver was taking us somewhere else. She called me and asked me to speak to the guy, so I gave him the phone and they spoke in Vietnamese and he then hung up.
I didn’t understand anything of what was going on. Kyle and Alex kept looking at me with worried looks.
“What do you want to do?” they asked.
“I’ll wait”, I said. Inside I was really worried though. How couldn’t I be? I had just left my wallet inside a bus going who knows where in Vietnam.
Then I got a text from the receptionist:
“The taxi driver says he knows where the bus is going. Afterwards, the bus has to make it to the terminal. Just in case here’s the bus driver’s number. If in fifteen minutes you don’t get anywhere, call him directly and then call me to let me know”.
Excellent. Now I felt more relaxed. However, that text meant that not even the receptionist trusted the taxi driver.
The trip was eternal and I was really nervous the whole time, processing in my mind what to do in case I didn’t find it. I would have to call the banks to cancel the cards, etc. It wasn’t the end of the world, but clearly a hassle. Plus, I’d lose a lot of money, and backpackers are not well known for having the luxury to have money to lose.
The taxi went into a badly illuminated neighborhood, where the houses looked sketchy and run down. Kyle kept looking at me every ten seconds as if something was going to happen. Shit.
Then, at the distance I saw the bus, parked right in front of a run down building. I looked at Kyle and Alex with hope and excitement.
When we got there I ran out of the taxi towards the bus. The bus driver looked at me puzzled, but the taxi driver explained everything and he let me in. I went to my seat and there it was, between the seat and the sidewall of the bus. My wallet! Safe and sound and with everything, absolutely everything inside it.
I breathed out with relief. I didn’t lose any money, didn’t lose my cards, didn’t lose my ID’s and I have yet to lose my wallet.
I got back in the cab really happy, and the taxi driver seemed super happy too, so he turned up the volume of the radio. The Titanic song by Celine Dion was playing, and he started singing and clapping really loud. We just started laughing and that excited him even more, so much that he turned around every now and then and grabbed Kyle’s leg really hard. I don’t know if he did it because he thought it was funny, or if he enjoyed doing it, since he had spanked another guy and all. But who cared? He had saved me.
I texted the receptionist to thank her for everything. It really was a nice feeling to see that people had been so kind and honest. Not only the receptionist, but also the taxi and the bus driver, they had all been honest, hadn’t robbed me and were trying to help all the time.
One gets usually scared when traveling in other countries where there’s a language barrier and big cultural differences. One thinks the worst possible outcomes can happen, but one forgets that even in the most remote corner of the world there are honest, humble and authentic people. Real people that make one feel at home, safe and confident. People that make the trip to their country worth it.