12h bus ride with 37 degrees, 8h in a night train or 1h helicopter flight? These are the opportunities to get from Hanoi to the northern highlands of Vietnam. Well…i didn’t have 15.000 bucks left to take the posh flight….and losing a whole holiday sweating in a bus didn’t sound like much fun either. So by checking the websites of the trains from Hanoi to Lao Cai i got pretty impressed by the descriptions like “deluxe train offers comfortable air-conditioned soft sleepers”.
After visiting several temples and pagodas, doing very touristical sightseeing and discovering the old quarter of Hanoi for the whole day i arrived totally soaked of sweat at the train station. I left the suitcase in the hotel and only had a backpack with me….with my camera stuff and few clothes. While waiting for the train a thunderstorm started to blow over Hanoi. Ah man….how lucky i was already standing under the roofs of the station…and this train that was stopping in front of me…i thought. Nope. With all the other passengers we had to cross several tracks.
In the train there are 5qm cabins with 4 flatbeds. The air condition worked pretty good….(have you ever tried to put a wet hand into a freezer?). Pretty tired of the day i layed down in the vietnamese sized foam matress. I killed a mosquito and tried to find some sleep, but the narrow gauge railways and the subtile smell of sweaty feet didn’t make it easy. [deleted rant about the train toilet] I had to remind me of all the pretty images i saw from the ricefields and and ethnic minorities i would get to see there.
Well…i’d do it again. Prepared with a proper rain coat and feet deodorant, without having a beer before stepping into that train.