Thursday, 7 May 2009

Getting to the Chinese border, 6 May 2009

Sapa is just 38km (1 hour) from the Chinese border of Hekou. I found
out that there was a bus from Hekou to YuanYang (where I was meeting
Emma) at 10am, so I had to be in China for then, and given that China
is an hour ahead of Vietnam it was going to mean an early start.

There were regular buses from Sapa to Lao Cai (the border) that ran
all day, but I discovered that they didn't begin until 7.30am, and
they only set off for Lao Cai when they were full. The journey was
going to be an hour so after some calculations it was going to be a
big chance if I chose this option.

I looked into a taxi, but this was going to cost 300,000 dong
(16pounds!) Maybe not!

Steven suggested that we hire the bike again and he would take me on
the bike. He was happy to split the cost and this was a very welcome

After we had spent the day on the bike I was quite confident that the
38km journey by bike would be ok.

I woke up at 5.30am this morning and looked out to see nothing but rain!

That was that, I was getting a taxi for sixteen pounds.

As much as I trusted Steven's motorbike skills, I didn't like the idea
of travelling on such wet roads. It had clearly been raining all
night, and let's face it 16pounds isn't much to pay for peace of mind.

I went to the hotel reception and the girl started ringing for a taxi.
I explained that I needed to get there pretty qyuickly in order to
make my connection. There were just a few taxis in the area, and none
of them were picking up their phones. The girl had an idea.

She went out into the street and a few minutes later came back with a
minibus for me.

The driver had agreed to take me to the border, he wouldn't wait for
any other customers he would take me there directly, for 300,000dong.
It was the same as I would have paid for a taxi so I jumped in and was
on my way to China in my very own mini bus. I'd chartered my own bus,
get me!

Driving to the border I was so releived that I hadn't gone on the
bike, it was pretty much a downhill journey but the roads were so very
wet it was treacherous. I would have hated to have been on a bike. And
I also realised at this point that I would hav got very wet on the
back of a bike - something I hadn't thought of before.

I arrived at the border at 7.50am (Vietnam time) and managed to make
it through Chinese immigration in time to make the 10am bus (Chinese
time). Phew!

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