The Chinatown Bus

February 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

“When’s the Bolt bus coming? 9:30AM? Okay, good, looks like we’ll be a little early again; maybe we’ll get good seats.”

No, we were wrong.

The Bolt bus was scheduled to leave at 9 AM. We got there just in time to see the bright orange Bolt bus pull away. And the sad thing is that if we knew it was our bus, we could have made a run for it and, arguably, caught it. We just stood there dumbfounded in disbelief as the New York City winds tried their best to literally push us to the ground even though our spirits were there already.

At least for a minute.

Through some quick research, we were all able to schedule bus rides home, but just not together because of a mix-up. Jeff took the next Bolt bus home but there was only one seat available so Wayne and I chose a different bus company that offered rides from New York City to Washington DC every hour, Eastern Travel, or better known as “the Chinatown bus”. There are several different companies that all answer to the name “Chinatown bus”, though Eastern Travel is the main one that I have heard– Wayne has heard of Lucky Star, but, based on all the other things he’s heard, no one would really consider themselves lucky to be traveling on it unless they were like us in our Sunday morning situation. It seems that whenever anyone hears the words, “the Chinatown bus”, they automatically scrunch up their noses and utter, “Yikes,” followed with, “I’m sorry” since people tend to associate “the Chinatown bus” with being extremely cheap, but grimey, smelly, and all around uncomfortable. It’s the reason why people tend to take the Bolt Bus or the Megabus, if for nothing else but a hope that the ride will be more pleasant than what they envision a ride on “the Chinatown bus” to be.

So…I feel weird saying this, but after riding on the Megabus, the Bolt Bus, and “the Chinatown bus”, I would prefer “the Chinatown bus.”

It’s all just personal preference, and I know people are more likely to disagree with me and say that Bolt Bus or Megabus are better in every way: service, cleanliness, ride-ability (am I just making up words again?), etc. The Eastern Travel bus was ghetto. There’s no doubt about that when you see the rear taillight secured to the bus with masking tape and duct tape, and, within the first five minutes, you hear the bus driver angrily yell, “What the fuck?! Move your ass!” with his Cantonese-American accent. But the reasons I liked Eastern Travel are the reasons that people only realize if it’s horrible weather in the middle of winter and you just drank a lot of coffee before realizing you have a weird fear of a shared bathroom on vehicles– two words: explosive diarrhea; another word: farts, the kind that would turn the faces of cartoon characters green with suffocating disgust.

I liked that Eastern Travel offered a waiting station for its riders since Bolt Bus and Megabus typically just pick up its riders at what looks like a regular bus stop sign. I really appreciated the waiting station since Wayne and I were very cold and the gusty winds of NYC weren’t letting up. The seats were more comfortable, at least according to Wayne, who hated his seat on the Bolt Bus even after I switched seats with him because he was convinced his original seat was slowly sliding down forward. Some people might dislike the fact that Eastern Travel makes a 15 minute pit stop at rest stop in Delaware because it makes the travel time longer and seems unnecessary since there is a bathroom on the bus. I, on the other hand, really liked that we had the 15 minute pit stop because I dislike bathrooms on vehicles– I usually will go out of my way to not drink anything just to make sure I won’t need to use the bathroom– and would much rather prefer the bathrooms at the rest stop. I also liked that Wayne and I had a chance to grab some food at the rest stop and stretch our legs. Bolt Bus and Megabus both offer free wifi, and apparently so does Eastern Travel, but Wayne wasn’t able to connect to the wifi on either Bolt Bus or Eastern Travel (he hasn’t ridden Megabus) so I guess there is no preference there. The last reason I would prefer Eastern Travel for our travels to NYC is because the waiting/drop-off station was only two streets away from the hotel where we stayed whereas the Bolt Bus bus stop was several streets away and took us around 20 minutes to walk there while lugging our bags with us. I really liked the hotel Wayne and I stayed; so much so that if we stay in the city again, I would want to stay at that hotel.

It’s kind of weird how it all worked out, especially since it made Wayne and I switch to “the Chinatown bus” as our preferred bus to NYC. And it’s cheaper than Bolt Bus and Megabus since we paid $20 each for our tickets the morning of travel. It was kind of a blessing in disguise since Wayne and I never would have considered Eastern Travel otherwise.


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