The Five Stages of Sleeping on an Overnight Bus
That 24 hour bus from Hanoi to Vang Vieng sounded like a good idea at the time you booked it: saving you a few bucks over the flight, which just means more buckets and beers in your future and less calling home to have mom wire you more money. Until you realize you have to spend 24 hours on a Vietnamese bus crushed between a man who smells like beef noodles and a lady singing along at deafening decibels to the karaoke music (and not even Taylor Swift) while freezing your ass off on the frigid air conditioning and semi-reclining back in a “bed” made for a midget.
Overnight buses are never fun, but they are always cheaper than flights and save you a night’s accommodation. All backpackers will take an overnight bus or twenty on their ‘round the world trips. You can’t even call yourself a real backpacker if you’ve never taken an overnight bus.
They always sound like a good idea at the time, but sleeping on buses is nearly impossible and you’ll always experience these five stages:
One: I’ve got this.
Maybe you brought one of those neck pillows. Maybe you took some illegal-in-the-western-world sedatives. Maybe you’re just one of those people who can fall asleep anywhere. The first stage to sleeping on buses is always, “I’ve got this.” An overnight bus is the best idea ever, sleep will be no problem.
Oh, you’re going to blast music or play some shitty straight to video movie that’s dubbed into Spanish at midnight? Oh, my overnight bus leaves at 11pm and gets in at 4am? Oh, you’re going to push your seat so far back that I’ve lost all circulation in my legs? Oh, you’re going to turn the air conditioning up so high that it feels like the arctic even though no where else in your country has air conditioning? Oh, you’re going to try to have a conversation with me in a language I don’t understand? Oh, you’re going to bring all your bags on the bus and push them under my legs?
Ok it’s been…one hour. Only 23 to go. I’m going to sleep…now…
Four: Acceptance, I’m not going to sleep.
Fuck it. I’m not going to sleep.
Five: Making the most of it.
Crack open some beers. Sing along to some karaoke. Accept whatever weird snack your neighbor offers you. And enjoy the bumpy bumpy ride. Only 22 more hours to go…
Have you ever taken an overnight bus? Is it hell or what?
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