Road Trip To Die For

I have been on holidays and so has my brain. I really intended to write more but too much relaxing and then too much sightseeing took hold. I am back now and so is my brain.

There is so much to write about Vietnam, it’s hard to know where to start. Of course, food is high on the agenda but I have to say that Vietnamese food in Australia is just as good, maybe even better.  The highlight of our trip is the Mekong Delta and homestay although at the time, I probably wouldn’t have said so as the heat and humidity really got to me!

But first, I would like to write about one experience that will be impressed in my memory forever. Fortunately, it only ruined my day not my holiday.

The spectacular road from Nha Trang to Dalat

The spectacular road from Nha Trang to Dalat

At first, we are giggling. Sliding about the vinyl seats from side to side every time the driver swerves around a corner. No seatbelts of course. Dean is in the second row of seats. Harvey and I are in the third.

It is even a little fun. Up the seemingly never-ending mountain steep inclines and sharp turns, we are on our way from Nha Trang to Dalat in a private minibus. Overtaking trucks, cars, motorbikes, bicycles and people around bends. Little children, who look no more than 4 or 5 years old, walking home from school along the side of the road, never ever straying beyond the lines. The driver only slowing down on potholed roads damaged by landslides and roadworks. Passing breathtaking mountain waterfalls every few moments, climbing higher and higher.

Driver about to pass motorbikes around a bend

Driver about to pass motorbikes around a bend

Then no sooner as we reach the top of the mountain, we start the downhill run. My moment of utter panic. Speeding through villages with more little children running along the side of the road. Children who never bat an eyelid, going about their daily business. We screech sharply around a corner towards an oncoming truck. We are close to hitting countless motorbikes.

All the while my mind is racing and thinking, this guy knows what he is doing. He drives this return trip every day. He knows every pothole, every turn, every village like the back of his hand. He is not working for some dodgy company. It has all been arranged by our travel agent.

I ask Dean to tell the driver to slow down but Dean refuses, says he is driving safe enough and this is the way it is. By this time, Harvey has climbed over the bench seat and sits with Dean. Unbelievably, Harvey is trying to sleep. Dean is telling me to move to the side by the window but I can’t. I feel superglued to the centre of the bench seat and am about to cry. I am really scared by the stage.

For a fleeting second, I gain some courage and manage to shuffle myself left towards the window. I notice the driver peer into his rear vision mirror. He must see how I am reacting and yet he doesn’t slow down. So now I am thinking if I ask him to slow down (and how on earth do you say it in Vietnamese? I have a list of words in case we needed them but slow down and stop are not on the list), what if he decides to go faster? Our lives are in his hands. If he has to stop suddenly, we will die.

We eventually enter the town of Dalat. The relief I feel is so overwhelming, I want to cry some more. It is impossible to speed now as there is a lot of traffic.  And when we reach our hotel, it takes a few minutes before I am able to budge. I plop myself on one of the reception lounges and keel over. I feel like I am about to throw up.

Did I over-react? I really don’t know. I am simply glad Harvey was not scared. And I am angry at myself for putting him in this situation and for not opening my mouth. It isn’t the way I imagined we would die.

NB. The 140 km or so trek took us 2 hours and 50 minutes. I found out afterwards that the driver was allocated 3 ½ hours to do the trip.

Beach scene from our resort in Nha Trang

Beach scene from our resort in Nha Trang

Motorbikes are not just for going from A to B

Motorbikes are not just for going from A to B

Traffic in Ho Chi Minh

Traffic in Ho Chi Minh

Not often a child has a helmet - this is unusual!

Not often a child has a helmet – this is unusual!

It's a balancing act

It’s a balancing act

Dressed for work - the rain doesn't stop anyone

Dressed for work, heels and poncho – the rain doesn’t stop anyone

My favourite image of Vietnam - so peaceful (near Can Tho floating markets)

My favourite image of Vietnam – so peaceful (near Can Tho floating markets)

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One Response to Road Trip To Die For

  1. jeannie says:

    I don’t think you were wrong to react, our bus crashed in Vietnam and we saw plenty more road accidents. Fair enough to ask him to slow down.

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