Catching the train from Hanoi to Vinh

This one is for Jeremy.

We wanted to fly from Hanoi to Vientiane, but the flights were really dear, something like $250 each. We thought our only option was to catch a dreadful sleeping bus that takes about 15 hours instead. (See this post for thoughts on sleeping buses.) Things were looking grim until Jeremy stumbled upon an incredibly cheap flight from Vinh to Vientiane. We quickly bought tickets so we wouldn’t miss out. Next problem – how to get from Hanoi to Vinh? Vinh is about 300km south of Hanoi. Jeremy suggested that we catch the train. I was a bit unsure, but in the end I agreed and it was actually a lot of fun.

Six hours in a soft seat, and the catering carts came in quick succession; the first selling hot corn and tubs of yoghurt, the second selling drinks, and the third selling fried bits like spring rolls and different kinds of meat on a stick. We were adventurous and bought a cà phê sữa đá each. At this point I should mention that I was suffering from a nasty head cold. I may have had to mingle with other people’s wee in the train’s squatter toilet, but I am quite certain that my germs infected at least half of the poor souls unfortunate enough to be in our carriage and probably most of the other people on the train as well. I’m sorry about this. I was a spluttering mess for most of the journey. While we are on bodily functions, another point worth mentioning is that the toilets on these trains do indeed empty straight onto the track. Even when the train is stopped at a station. I realised this when we alighted at Vinh in the early afternoon.

One other thing I discovered is that taxis will actually come up onto the platform to collect passengers. Some passengers will, of course, have no problems crossing the tracks to secure a taxi before passengers using the proper exiting facilities.

Final note, Vinh was fun and Jeremy’s beard attracted a lot of attention.

Here are a couple of pics from Vinh station.

a

Just got off the train and need a taxi quick? No problem! Didn’t get to the first cab in time? See below.

b

Not to worry. There are plenty more waiting further down the platform.

Ferry to Cam Kim Island near Hoi An

This is a photographic story of our journey to Cam Kim Island near Hoi An.

We caught the ferry to the island, then rode our bicycles around.

It was a lovely morning out and the island is beautiful.

We went with Gary, Judy and Chris – thanks for a great day!

Ferry arriving full of passengers from Cam Kim Island

Ferry arriving full of passengers from Cam Kim Island

Reloading the ferry for the return trip to Cam Kim Island - bicycles loaded, we were on our way

Reloading the ferry for the return trip to Cam Kim Island – bicycles loaded, we were on our way

We arrived at Cam Kim and rode around the tiny roads looking for interesting things

We arrived at Cam Kim and rode around the tiny roads looking for interesting things

We came across lots of women splitting grass to make the colourful mats common around Hoi An

We came across lots of women splitting grass to make the colourful mats common around Hoi An

We also saw remnants of the old ceramic industry like this disused kiln

We also saw remnants of the old ceramic industry like this disused kiln

At one point, we crossed a bridge over to the mainland to see what was there

At one point, we crossed a bridge over to the mainland to see what was there.

A few twists and turns in the road led us to a peaceful inlet

A few twists and turns in the road led us to a peaceful inlet

There were boats and fishing gear all around

There were boats and fishing gear all around

Lots and lots of betel nuts everywhere

Lots and lots of betel nuts everywhere

We sat outside on the ferry trip home and the breeze was beautiful

We sat outside on the ferry trip home and the breeze was beautiful

Map showing the ferry trip to Cam Kim Island and a rough idea of where we rode on the island

Map showing the ferry trip to Cam Kim Island and a rough idea of where we rode on the island