The math was wrong. I had been offered a 1pm bus from Hue to Pleiku, but as I thought I was looking at a 12-14 hour trip, arriving at 1-3am didn’t make sense. Pleiku was not known for its nightlife. Or so I thought. Another mis-calculation.
So I took a 430pm sleeper which left from Hue close to on time at 445pm. According to my math that should have gotten me into Pleiku somewhere around 5-6am-ish. The traveling was not too uncomfortable. I slept most of way except for some Fear and Loathing, an episode of Firefly, and 1.5 episodes of Hustle.
Then we arrived in pleiku. 230am. Huh? Less than 10 hours of a trip. The bus driver told me to get off. Umm, ok. I told a xe om (motorcycle taxi) that had been waiting for the bus to take me to the Hung Vuong Hotel, which he said he would do, for 50000 vnd. I was in no place to argue, especially because the place the bus had let me off looked very unfamiliar.
So we got to the hotel, banged on the door, called, no answer. Tu Do hotel across the street wouldn’t take foreigners. Next hotel, full. Next hotel, 600000VND (USD30). Screw that. For a few hours of sleep? I told the driver to take me somewhere I could drink coffee unil morning. He took me to the night market.
By the way, Pleiku has a night market. A pretty bustling one. I sat down at a coffee stand and drank. The guy running the stand spoke absurdly good English. Like, stop you in your tracks good English. Minimal formal training but he just got it. There was a TV running a bunch of cheesy music videos. I was in a good place. Here are some badly photogaphed stills from some awesomely produced videos.
I particularly liked the last video. The lead singer was given a pool party by her boyfriend in a suburban home. Y’know, like all Vietnamese birthday parties.
Anyway, some good coffee, some great music videos and I was off for a walk around the market. Veggies, fruit, meat. Normal market stuff. But what you do see is some terrible nighttime photography skills.
Hot peppers are always photogenic no matter how much you screw up the lighting.
I guess the coffee guy had told people where I was going, since at about 415am a guy approached me about going to Le Thanh at the Cambodian border. He was leaving at 530. Usd5. Standard price.
We left at 535. A rickety van packed with vegetables and people. Got to the border at 730am-ish. At 10am, cars left for Banlung, and I was on one.
So, when you arrive at 230 am and are just passing through: go to the night market directly. There are many ways in but only one, I believe, proper entrance. Near the entrance is a pretty large coffee stand with a TV going at high volume. If a guy speaks to you in English, your at the right place. His English is good enough that, as long as you buy some coffee, he can help you sort the rest of your trip right there.