I read this story this morning and for some odd reason, it really cheered my heart. A smart entrepreneur in Orange County's Little Saigon community saw the need for simple, easy and cheap travel between the O.C. and San Jose, California, where it seems a growing community of Vietnamese are in residence.
So Linh Hoang Nguyen started Xe Do Hoang, a bus service between the two locations. Listen to this - for only $35, you get a one-way ticket, a lunch consisting of a baugette sandwich, a bottle of water, and a dessert, and during the six hour trip movies and other videos are show and, oh yes, there is free wi fi on board. In my opinion, that's a great deal . . .
But it is more than just the economics that pleases me.
Xe Do Hoang is Vanessa Le's connection to her parents.
She travels several times a month to San Jose with her 4-year-old son, Ezra, especially after her father, Long Le, became terminally ill with cancer.
"The bus is cheap, comfortable and convenient," she says.
Kim Nguyen is no stranger to the bus. She lives in San Diego, but drives all the way to Orange County just to take the xe do.
She parks her car at a friend's place in Orange County and takes the bus to see her daughter, who goes to Stanford University, and son, who lives in San Jose.
"I don't have to drive eight hours to get there," she says. "Instead, I drive for an hour and then take the bus."
She often sends books, clothes and other goodies for her children through the bus as well.
Some others on the bus like Tom Dao work in San Jose, but live in Orange County.
Tom Dao has been doing it for a year and a half now. He's going home to his wife and children who live in Huntington Beach.
Dao says he has become used to this life.
"I know pretty much everyone on the bus," he says. "It's fun chatting and joking around with people on the bus. It's a lot better than driving all alone."
It may be a short bus trip, but the reactions when Dao hugs his kids or Le sees her dad, are still powerful.
Ordinary people for whom this $35 ticket - or $5 if you are transporting cargo, like sending a package to a loved one - brings a value besides the trip. I thought to myself, You know, I think I'd like to ride this bus, just to say I did it.
It also made me think, how many people today would not ride a familiar line like Greyhound, afraid of the "elements" that one might find on a bus? I grew up in a place where the local mass transportation was the great equalizer - rich and poor alike rode the subway. A few years ago, I took my children to the beach and did so via bus because they said they had never ridden on a city bus and wanted to do so. Granted, it took about an hour for a trip that I could have driven in less than half the time, but the kids liked seeing people getting on and off, and the different neighborhoods that the bus wound through - and the bus was cheap, clean and nicely air-conditioned.
I feel the need for a journey . . .