Wow! What a train trip. I think I saw a part of Vietnam or parts that I would never have imagined only being in cities and some of the more touristy places. Remote places with trees and valleys and no one. A person I met on the train told me the central part was known for the central Forest and it just goes and goes! Then you wake up in the sleeper the next morning and you are seeing rice fields and farmers stretching out to the distance. Just amazing terrain. After some time of that and a few tunnels and stops in smaller cities, we are at the ocean. The train goes down the coast for some hours as well so you get to see just about all the geography.
It was a long train trip but I am so glad I did it! Next time perhaps I would divide it into three smaller trips but I wanted to do this part of the plan and say that I rode almost the entire length of Vietnam. If you ever decide to do the train travels here, few things to note:
- Food is cheap and they feed you almost continuously. The dinner was 35,000 VND or about $2.00 US and you get a lot of food. Dinner is the same. Then the people stroll by offering bottled water, snacks, instant noodles all the time. If you are hungry on this train, something is wrong.
- This is not a bullet train folks. This train does about 55mph and sometimes slower. It also shares the tracks with freight trains so every so often it stops and lets someone else go.
- There are three classes of seating. There is the hard seat (think wooden bench), the soft seat (perhaps it reclines, don’t know), and then there’s the soft berth sleeper type thing. This is 4 to a berth. Go for the sleeper! You will be more comfortable and able to stretch out on a semi soft sleeper.
- The train stops and lets off and takes new passengers. This goes on the entire trip to big cities like Danang and smaller ones. But to the credit of the SE5 train, we got to the Saigon Railway Station on time. That’s pretty good for a 30 hour train trip folks
- Don’t expect things like wifi on the train but there are USB chargers which was nice since I used my iPhone almost the entire time. My cell provider Viettel was stellar on the trip!
So in a nutshell, in 30 hours and a lot of stops and beautiful country which I captured a few shots of here on my iPhone you end up all the way in southern Vietnam. In my case at a homestay with a family that cooks dinners every night, provides laundry service for free, and seem to be the greatest people. Tonight I am going to do a little less and get prepared to start seeing the city tomorrow. I’ll find the usual coffee and bakery shop I can visit regularly around the homestay, investigate a new city tomorrow, and see the places I can go with the camera.
Bye for now vagabonders! Happy dreams and new places await!