Saturday, 22 February 2014

I had a couple of quiet days after that before jumping on a train and heading to Dong Hoi, I would miss Ha Long Bay and quite a bit of other places, but it was SOOOO cold in Hanoi I figured it best to visit on another trip.  Plus I couldn’t get out of Hanoi quick enough.  The train ticket was organized through the hotel, they have a travel agent underneath and it cost me $25 for the 11 hour trip down to Dong Hoi in a ‘soft seat’.
It was far from the quality of the Thailand or Indo trains, but I was on the SE5, apparently the SE1 through to SE4 are nicer, but they tended to go through the night and I would rather do day trips and take in the scenery. 

Many people like to do the overnighters as they save on a hotel room, that makes sense, but why come all the way over here and miss actually seeing Vietnam to save a few bucks?  It was nothing but locals on the journey and it made for some funny ‘conversations’ where neither of us really understood what was being said!
Bring snacks and water and if you plan on eating, do it early.  All the food seemed to be brought on in the first couple of hours, regularly actually, and I figured it would just keep coming.  But no such luck, the Vietnamese seem to eat for the first 3 hours then go to sleep and I didn’t see any more food after that, lucky I had a tube of Pringles with me!
Towards the end of the journey I was really getting worried about missing my stop, I wanted to sleep but was afraid I’d wake up in Saigon!  The train ran over an hour late and by now I was really panicking, thinking that maybe I should have gotten off at a fairly big station a while back.  I questioned the conductor as best I could, having no command whatsoever of the Vietnamese language, I’m pretty sure he said we weren’t there yet?!
Not to worry, about 30 minutes later we arrived in Dong Hoi and the same conductor came and hustled me out of my seat to get ready for disembarkation.  There will be plenty of people waiting with taxis to take you into town, just look for the green Mai Linh ones, apparently these are the least crooked of all of them!  Best of a bad bunch as they say!   Watch the meter also and watch for any sudden jumps or it going too fast, no worries with mine though and soon I was at the Anh Linhl Hotel.
Something I forgot to mention is 'The Man in Seat 61' an invaluable website that I use all the time when planning train travel, it covers most of the world.  Check it out.
View from my balcony