While you , and The Vietnamese of Hanoi , were quietly snoring in bed, Mike and I were scurrying to the train station for the 6am train. You have to be there at least between hour and three quarters of an hour before the train leaves. Not sure why as it starts at Hanoi and so can’t be early or late. Now you think the train comes, you get on find your seat..no worries. No you wait. The train station waiting room official uses a megaphone to say you can get on when she thinks the train is clean ( questionable), almost ready to go and she is ready.
You show your ticket and go find your carriage and seat. We located our carriage, no problem. Next the seat……61 62, 4,3 10 11,. You get the idea. Eventually we found our seats, 1 and 2, right next to the door to the catering carriage and right behind 59 and 60. 61 and 62 were at the opposite end of the carriage. Mike had spared no expense and we were in the soft seat air conditioned carriage. The seats are soft and there is air conditioning!
Now some of you will have heard my despair at travelling on trains in Thailand. I did go prepared this time:
Tight legged pants so no dragging in water or something ✅
Toilet paper ✅
Wet wipes ✅
But it is the journey that is important and seeing the real country. We passed from the suburbia into the countryside where there are paddy fields being hand planted with rice seedlings. Everything appears in a haze because of the high humidity. Fish farms and duck farms were then replaced with maize and vegetables if the land was not low enough for rice. In some places the land was terraced so that rice could be grown on the lowest terrace.
Ducks out. Ducks really out , escaping into the grass!
The train stops at many stations on the way to Hue. Many passengers are waiting at each stop and there is much noise and discussion as they clamber onto the train. Then comes the process of locating their seats. They peer at you , the number in front and back of your seat and move onto the next seat. Opposite us was a family group elderly lady, little boy and older man. The elderly lady had a beautiful face, laquered teeth and had been eating betel nut. This means she had a bright red mouth, an interesting combination.They borrowed an extra seat but had to give it up when their bag in the overhead rack , leaked all over another passenger. Oops.
Food is available on the train: snack food, fruit, soft drinks hot foodetc, but not hot tea or coffee.We decided not to eat on the train when we saw the cooking staff eating noodle pots that you add hot water to and stir. If they wouldn’t eat the food, no way were we going to risk it!
Two bathrooms! We thought there was some mistake, but “no you booked the garden room sir”.
Tomorrow we explore Hue.