Friday, January 18, 2013

Bus travel is NOT my favourite way to get around


I think it's well-documented that I love train travel. But what has featured a whole lot less on this blog is bus travel. There is a good reason for this. It's probably my least favourite way to get around, unless it's just a twenty-minute trip to a museum or somewhere.

Let me start with the exception, though, because it's always too general to say that I hate all bus travel (or anything, for that matter). Once, when I lived in Japan, I took an overnight bus trip from Osaka to Hiroshima. I was on a really tight budget (otherwise I would have taken the very speedy and comfortable shinkansen train instead) but a colleague had assured me that this bus was actually very comfortable.

They were right. It was amazing. It was a double decker bus and it was designed for and dedicated to overnight travel - there was a large gap between each seat and most importantly, the (comfortable) seats reclined nearly fully, a bit like a lie-flat seat in an aeroplane (or so I hear), and I was actually able to sleep well for most of the trip.

Of course, 99.9% of bus trips are not like that. I can name a couple of particularly horrid bus journeys I've had over the years. One was in Tunisia, returning from Hount Souz on Djerba to the capital, Tunis. I was actually planning to take the overnight train. I'd heard that tickets didn't go on sale until a particular time and I was ready and waiting at the ticket office at exactly that moment - only to be told that all the seats had already been sold. I never managed to figure out what went wrong but I did figure out that the only way back to Tunis was on a long night bus trip. The roads weren't great, I was exhausted, the bus was crowded, and after arriving at the bus station at Tunis at around 3.30am I had to sit and wait there until 6am for any transport into the city. I remember that day as being slightly torturous.

A ruin at Houmt Souq ... I felt like a ruin after my bus trip away from Houmt Souq
But worse was a bumpy bus ride I had in Vietnam, on the way from Hanoi out to Halong Bay. It was a fairly small bus and again the roads were far from ideal, but what really made it a shocking bus trip wasn't the fault of the bus as such - I'd picked up some kind of food poisoning and spent most of the trip trying not to vomit (but failed ... I won't go into the gory details). I was immensely relieved to get out on a boat that afternoon - fortunately I don't get any kind of seasickness and the fresh air out on the water of the bay was just what I needed.

These days, wherever possible and even if it costs more, I try to stick to trains over buses. I feel like I've "been there, done that" with bad bus trips and I don't need to repeat those experiences to remember how beautiful it is to travel in a train.

14 comments:

  1. I get motion sickness on long bus travels.
    That bus in Japan sounds amazing, just like travelling first class on a plane.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh no - I've never had motion sickness anywhere (touch wood!) but it sounds awful.

      I *believe* that bus might feel like first class on a plane - but have never had the chance to compare! (one day?!)

      Delete
  2. Oh god having food poisoning on a bus like that would have been torture! I prefer taking buses over trains at home, but I agree that trains are the better option when traveling long distance

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha ha yes I can certainly think of better places to have food poisoning ;-) or better still not at all!

      Delete
  3. My worst bus ride was actually in the UK from London to Liverpool as a teenager. Second in was between Cairo and Dahab. However asides from that I have had really good luck with buses. Cheap buses in USA such as Megabus have been a bit of a squeeze but nothing worse than a flight. Buses in New Zealand have been really good to me so far and I even wrote a post about them :) - http://everydaynomad.com/budget-bus-travel-in-new-zealand-my-comprehensive-guide/

    Anyway, maybe you should give the buses one last try!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True I have had some OK bus rides in the US - will have to look into your New Zealand ones since I hope to make it there soon!

      Delete
  4. I tend ride a lot and sometimes when I meet with certain accidents I have to take the stupid bus. I hate the feeling of getting inside a huge metal box. I tend to be claustrophobic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I hear you. A bus is just nowhere near as comfortable or pleasant.

      Delete
  5. Buses are also famed for being late and not stopping where you want them to stop.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True, buses seem even worse at being late than trains, although I've certainly been on my share of very late trains!

      Delete
  6. I sometimes like long travels by bus.. yeah sometimes it's really annoying.. but if i could grab a seat in a corner, less crowd, then i like to have my ride watching streets and enjoy my journey..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A less crowded bus is better than a crowded one ... but I'd still rather the train.

      Delete
  7. I hate bus travelling. I always had bad experience in my bus travelling. I prefer train than bus. It is very convenient and faster public transport to travel.

    ReplyDelete

I love to hear from you ...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...