Trains again but at even more expense as we are in a soft sleeper! Today we are on the night train to Saigon or Ho Chi Minh city. The train leaves at 10.30 in the morning. We were prepared this time as we knew we needed not just toilet paper, wipes and water but food supplies as well. The trip takes 18 and a half hours from Hue. Our Hue city guide had taken us to the markets to stock up on food for the journey. Hot pot noodles, sesame and nut crispy pancake slice, banana, mandarins and interesting cheese crackers that have sugar on one side and a sort of cheese icing on the other. Interesting combination. .
Now before you ask, yes the toilets are gross….almost mega gross. The only saving factor is the floor is slightly raised with a channel at either side so the water drains away and the window is locked open. You did need to bring your own paper and sit at your own peril.
The scenery along the coast is worth the minor inconvenience as, even in the rain (expect spotty pictures) , it is spectacular.
As with our trip from Hanoi to Hue, each station is met with a flurry of people hastily getting off and onto the train.
Even at night passengers are constantly changing. In our sleeper compartment, the bunk above mine changed occupants 3 times. The occupant changed, the bedding didn’t so you can’t be too precious about your sleeping arrangements. We were lucky and got a clean sheet and quilt cover!
A story from our guide Tam from yesterday. His family and their neighbors (15 people in all) were sheltering in a large bomb shelter, they had built from the remains of their houses. During the night they began to be attacked by bed bugs. There were so many that the roof was turned red. All of the families decided to move into makeshift small dwellings for the night. During the night the area was shelled and the big dwelling was destroyed , but the families were safe nearby in their smaller tents. Not often do you hear of bed bugs as the heroes of a story.
Safely arriving in Saigon , we walked to our hotel to rest before transferring to our Tour hotel. Oops they had sold our room. A taxi ride saw us store our luggage at the Caravelle hotel and then a walk around our neighbourhood.
Very quiet at 6.30am on a Sunday morning. You can see the French colonial influence in the official buildings. Old buildings are generally painted cream or a dark yellow cream with white trim. Saigon has more modern European style buildings than Hanoi or Hui. Streets are wider and there is less rubbish…at least early in the morning.
Breakfast was Yes 1,310,925.00 VDN This is about $70 Australian . You can be a millionaire here…just go to the bank and withdraw it. It will not buy much but you can feel rich…..temporarily. 17,000 is about a $1. Rest time ,we can book in and have a shower , yay! Tomorrow we join the tour but we have already met four of our travel companions at breakfast, not a bad start.