YOUR HOLIDAY DISASTER
When in Vietnam, use public transport. You may not live to regret any other decision. By Tom Howard
Sunday 17 May 1998
When the journey finally got under way we discovered that our driver had his sights set on the touring car circuit. He drove so fast that in the event of a crash the van and everyone in it would have been reduced to dust. At one point he came careering up behind a huge truck and, strictly obeying the Vietnam highway code, pulled out to overtake at the same speed. As he drew alongside we were faced with six Vietnamese schoolgirls cycling alongside one another, taking up two-thirds of the road and blinded by the glare of our headlights. Our driver swerved to the other side of the road, one wheel on the tarmac one on the gravel and continued as if nothing had happened.
Shortly after midnight our driver pulled over into a siding in the middle of nowhere, turned round and announced: "OK, now I sleep for half an hour". Then he put his feet up on the steering wheel and passed out. Soon the sounds of croaking toads and a buzzing fluorescent strip-light hanging from the roof of a deserted garage had sent me into a deep slumber also. After what seemed like a minute I awoke. Everyone had crashed out in painfully contorted positions. Two and a half hours had passed and we hadn't moved an inch. The others slowly came to and we set about trying to wake up the driver who by now was hugging a hot water bottle and sucking his thumb. We crashed about in the back, banged the roof and generally made as much noise as possible but still he slept peacefully. Eventually I leaned over and tapped him on the shoulder. He grunted, rubbed his eyes, looked at his watch and said: "Oh ... sorry ... we go now?"
As we set off once more I wondered whether to feel glad or apprehensive about the fact that he was driving immediately after a deep sleep. The road was now so bad that I couldn't tell whether he was on it or off it anyway, so I gave up and dropped off again. This time I was woken by a pleasant rush of cool air onto the back of my neck. I turned round dreamily as the back door arched open, flinging our luggage 100... 200... 300 metres back along the road. We screamed at our driver who was clearly upset at having to slow down, and ran back to pick up our rucksacks which lay, forlorn but intact, directly in the path of any oncoming traffic. Luckily there was nothing behind us.
Early in the morning, as the mountain road turned into a winding coast road, hugging steep hills that dropped sharply into the sea, we finally embarked on the descent into Nha Trang.
"Do you think we should tip him?" someone enquired. His suggestion received the response it deserved.
Share your holiday nightmares by sending a 600-word account to: Holiday Disasters, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5DL. E-mail: email@example.com.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 2 People all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos to draw attention to mental health
- 3 Van driver who comforted Clark Carlisle and called 999 after suicide attempt dies age 24
- 4 James Blunt was special guest on the highest-rating Top Gear episode ever
- 5 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...
£33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...
£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...
£22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...