18.08.2015 - 18.08.2015
My first night train what an adventure! The adventure actually started before I got to the train with another first. The lovely people in Hanoi Brothers hostel said I didn't need to call a taxi to the station because one of them would give me a lift, for free! They said they would like to because they wanted to say goodbye properly as I was one of the friendliest and happiest guests that had stayed with them. So nice, they obviously don't know me properly!
Anyway, I was immersed in a book I was reading in readiness for my visit to Cambodia, which was a heartbreaking series of memoirs of the children of the Killing Fields and I lost track of time. I suddenly realised it was time to go and rushed to reception. No problem, they were ready to take me.
It was only then that I understood they were planning to take me on the back of a motorbike, complete with my backpack! The traffic in the city is so mad, seeing is believing and I had no time for apprehension or to think, I just had to go with it if I was to catch my train. I did manage a few quick photos mind, which I will post for you. As it turned out it was quite an enjoyable trip and a good way to see a bit more of the city. I've had a hankering to hire a bike myself as Jo knows only too well, listening to me go on about it whilst we were in Sri Lanka. I think first opportunity I will give it a try.
The station was well organised when I arrived and the train was on the platform. After some confusion because of language barriers, I find my cabin. Number 5 bed 11. There are already a husband and wife and a small child in the cabin, so as there are four beds I guess they are my companions for the trip. Conversation isn't really possible because of language barriers and I admit it did pass my mind that I wished I was in the cabin next door where I could hear a Australian accent. After all, part of the fun is the people you meet along the way. But generally that means talking with them.
I'm in the top bunk whitch is quite high up and they are all very narrow, but seem comfortable. The family disappear somewhere and I eventually work out how to get up (not without stepping on their bed, so have no idea how I'm going to get down when they are back. Anyway, I'm in the process of trying to get settled when two new people turn up. They are obviously not local as they are white, but speaking a foreign language. They seemed to think they were also in this cabin.
They speak excellent English and I explain there are already a family in here with me. After some ticket checking they are certain this is also their cabin and we surmise the local family must have made a mistake. They settle into the top and bottom bunk opposite me and I'm really pleased because they are absolutely lovely. They are both from Belgium, Gio lives and works in Hanoi and Emily is here on a two week holiday to visit him. They are really easy company and we are busy chatting away when the family return.
The family just sit on the bunk under me, seemingly quite contented. Gio says he thinks they might all be planning on sleeping in the one little bed, which me and Emily think is a mad idea and conclude they must have another bed along the corridor. No, Gio is right and they all settle into the one tiny bunk for the night.
About 9:00 they signal they'd like us to turn the lights out and obviously stop talking so it's sleep time for us all.
I slept like a log, loving the rhythm of the train as did Gio. Unfortunately Emily wasn't so lucky and said she didn't really sleep at all. Such a shame as they had a lovely sounding day planned. Everyone left my cabin and the train at 6:30 for their stop and I have the cabin to myself for the remainder of the journey.
Would I recommend the sleeper train, wholeheartedly yes, I've loved the experience. I've even enjoyed the no wifi break, although, no doubt I'll be first on it when it's back. Less enjoyable was the toilets which really are the worst I've seen. It's difficult to squat and hold your nose at the same time.
On that note I will leave you and see you in Da Nang