Nostalgic train ride

Trip Start Feb 16, 2010
Trip End Mar 09, 2010

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Where I stayed
On the friggin train

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Sunday, February 21, 2010

Slept in til 10am. Had Pho Bo round the corner and checked out of room at 12pm. Explored the markets again along railway track which was good. Visited Dong Xuan market on the northeastern side. It was bustling with activities. Went to Sinh Tourist office and booked my Tam Coc 1 Day trip for 24th Feb. Ate this omelett with spring onions at this street stall - found worms in the mix, so I asked if this was normal. They just nodded their heads with assurance. I ate it anyway.
At 4pm, ate pho bo again just outside of my hotel, which was fabulous (the best so far). Also had a bean curd soup off the street. Rocked up to my fave cafe for my mixed fruit milk shake - vnd 35 000 and spent the hour writing. Got back to hotel for the internet before coming out for dinner and wait for bus to Sapa at 730pm at the hotel lobby.
The pickup finally came at 8pm - a motorbike pickup. I was at Hanoi railway station in no time. The station was chaotic, not much of a direction but I can see a small ticket collecting building and a waiting/departure building. Once validated my ticket at departure, I was already on the railway tracks itself. With the guide's help, I managed to hop on the right train, right carriage and right cabin. I shared the 4 soft sleeper cabin with a french family of 3.
The train experience was very nostalgic, like a scene from an old war film. A basic restaurant was located at the front and 1 toilet in each carriage of 6 cabins(?). The cabins was small but still comfortable enough. Lying down, I can feel the level of head was constantly lower than my feet. Passengers or staff at other cabins seemed to ignore the non-smoking sign (who am I kidding, this is Vietnam), so it was constant annoying smoke everywhere. The rumbling of the train was not that noisy but the screeching of the train carriage parts was intolerable - like a fork scratching the surface of a chalkboard non - stop.
Managed to sleep from 10pm to 5am, occasionally waking to the train's intermediate stops, coffee calls and annoying smoking. The toilet was a constant mess. Female travellers might find this a big inconvenience but probably not to a seasoned traveller.
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