Hanoi, Viet Nam
21° 1' N 105° 50' E
Feb 06, 2008 05:50
Distance 1041km

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Text written in: English

The City of Frozen Lights

Hmmmmm my 30 hour train journey.. I've had better!

It started as it meant to go on with a 5:30am 'offer' from a train guard who wanted to hook his 50 year old friend up with me. I had to laugh. 'Cheap cheap' he said.. I didn't know whether he was referring to me or not.. either way I don't think it was a compliment.

When I first boarded the train I walked past the sleeper cabins and was shocked to see 3 levels of beds in rooms no larger than a public toilet cubicle (3 on either side that it). You had to hoist/climb/swing yourself up onto the top bunk. Just as well i'm not on one of those! Spoke to soon. Being 5'10 'n all you can imagine it wasn't easy.. I was full entertainment for the locals (I have grown to accept this). Once up there I had to slide my way onto the bed as there was only a space of around 1 and a half feet between the bed and the ceiling. So I was pretty much on my back for 30 hours.. fun and games! The people in my cabin were lovely and continually tried to talk to me throughout the journey even though they didn't speak a word of English (there was lots of nodding and smiling).

The toilets on these trains were the worst thing of all.. they absolutely reeked. Only word for it. Every visit was like an obsticle course. The trains over here are nothing like back home and are generally filthy.. but I think it has a lot to do with the passengers who seem to go out of their way to make a mess. However, I did manage to sleep for a fair chunk of the journey.. once up there the beds were quite comfortable! The food cart came round .. all of which was fried.. I was prepared this time and had made myself some cheese sandwiches so no fried dog for me thanks!

We arrived early.. 5am. It was f f f f f f f r r reeezzzzing!!! I was not at all prepared .. what in my tiny shorts and flip flops.. I found myself surrounded by people milling around in wooly hats etc. I made my way to the nearest taxi and set off for my hostel (the last one on my trip!!). I arrived and the cleaners let me in.. I had to wait until 12 o'clock to check in, but I didn't mind as they let me have free hot tea and toast!!

Had planned to head out and sight-see straight away as i'm only here for 2 days.. but it turns out I picked the wrong days. Today is the first day of the Chinese New Year and everything is closed. Everything. Apparently there are some ATM's that aren't even functioning! Although I have heard that the hostel manager has located a cafe that is open so we (25 of us) are all going along for some lunch at 2.. which should be fun.. they won't know what's hit them!

Lunch was lovely.. we all piled into this huge cafe on a side street not far from the hostel.  I would have sworn we were in France once inside.  It was a tad expensive.. but hey.. we need to splash out now and then!  (come to think of it .. it was only 2.50 (GBP) but that's expensive for here!)

..... Update..... Hanoi is amazing.. I love it here!  I just wish I wasn't leaving tomorrow.. there are so many beautiful places I want to see around here.  Most of the public transport isn't running for both days that i'm here which is a real hindrance but not much I can do about it.  I'm just using my pegs to sight-see.. before they freeze that is!  Is has a very classic yet rustic vibe about it.  Everyone is so chilled out.. I love the ambience.  Nothing compared to Hong Kong though i'm told!



Photos / videos of "The City of Frozen Lights":

Cathedral Square St Joseph's Cathedral Streets of Hanoi Hanoi Hoan Clem Lake Hanoi Streets of Hanoi 'Caphe Moca' Hoan Clem Lake Hoan Clem Lake with New Year celebrations Hanoi Hoan Clem Lake Scary masked woman Chilling out on New Year hols New Year celebrations Balloon anyone? Hanoi The bridge to Ngoc Son Temple The bridge to Ngoc Son Temple The bridge to Ngoc Son Temple The alleyway my hostel was on The alleyway my hostel was on My hostel - Hanoi Backpackers My hostel - Hanoi Backpackers