Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Chinatown bus

as mentioned yesterday, we went to NY for my birthday! while the past 2 times tim drove us, we decided to take the bus this time. since we were staying in manhattan, it would be really expensive with a car (parking costs at the hotel; 55 dollars/night). many bus companies can drive you to new york, but a little search told me what i already knew; the chinatown bus is the cheapest, and the most frequent. 15 dollars per ride per person! and during weekends buses leave every half hour.
many times i have been warned about fung wah (the name of the company). riding with them is dangerous! their buses are crappy and you risk your life just to save some money! many accidents have happened in the past! i never checked whether any of this was true, but.... having been on a terrible busride to canada and back with greyhound pretty recently (they also drive to NY ), i decided that such busrides are scary no matter how much or little you pay, and booked our tickets with fung wah.
our bus would leave at 6.30 on saturday. we got at the bus station a little after six, and were hushed into the bus. thats the only thing the lady said; hurry, get on the bus!! else they were speaking chinese... we just landed into our seats when the bus took off. 15 minutes ahead of schedule. no word from the busdriver (as opposed to greyhound where the driver was giving a 15 minute monologue that was really, really irritating, and he did that at every stop). this bus did not have any stops (perhaps the brakes did not work?!), not even a short bathroom-break. but... bathroom was all around us, sitting near the back of the bus, we were close to the toilet and the entire ride the bus smelled like ass. my goodness.. it was really bad. luckily i had something to cover my nose and mouth, as i saw many other passengers do as well. on top of that, the bus was making a terribly loud sound during the entire ride (tim said there must have been some mechanical problem, which scared me a little). but... before we knew it we were in chinatown, at 10 in the morning already! not at some fancy bus station, but just somewhere, along the street. they had already thrown out my luggage, and the bus disappeared as fast as it came....
well, that ride was shitty, literally. but we arrived quickly without any unnecessary stops in between (other companies have stops where more people get on or off). the entire process, although in chinese, seemed very efficient and everyone in the bus was quiet (perhaps all were too sick and deaf.. :) ). we were making jokes about "fung wah". perhaps it meant shit-ride from hell? or terrible smell for cheapos? or.... just shit bus? well, my beloved wikipedia just told me what it really means:  fung wah is the cantonese pronunciation of the Chinese name, 風華, which means "magnificent wind." HAHAHAHAHA! even better than we could imagine.... including both the shit and their speed... :D
here you can read about the accidents with fung wah buses (not as extreme as you might think from the bad reputation fung wah has, although im glad i was not in the New York-bound bus that lost its back two wheels), and here you can read reviews from passengers (they are pretty funny sometimes).
above a picture on bowery, but more about that some other time!