April 2018. After six days in Hanoi and three nights on Halong Bay’s gorgeous Cat Ba Island, it was finally time for my first cross-country train trip. My destination was Dong Hoi; a small city perched on a pretty stretch of central Vietnam’s northern coastline. So off I went to Hanoi Railway Station’s Building A on Le Duan Street for my overnight journey.
April 2018. I’d been savvy enough to order my tickets in advance through my Hanoi hotel; so on arrival I was spared all the queuing nonsense at the chaotic ticket office. Instead, I made a beeline straight for one of the many snack shops for some Pringles, coke and water.
April 2018. In the main hall all information was laid out clearly in both Vietnamese and English, while going through security was a pleasingly simple affair. Just a check of the ticket (I’m so used to showing my passport for everything in China) and that was it, not even a scan of my luggage. I’d come forty minutes early, but the train was ready and open to anyone who wanted to get settled in.
April 2018. I made a friend while looking for my carriage. She was an incredibly friendly security guard who clearly didn’t have much to do. Hand-delivering me to my cabin, she also asked if she could have her photo taken with me. Why not?
April 2018. My cabin that night was a simple but clean and functional four-berth room that I shared with a middle-aged German-Filipino couple and an old Vietnamese granny that climbed up to her top bunk and fell asleep in an instant. Settling in for some Pringles and South Park, I was excited at the prospect of a good night’s sleep and the anticipation of waking up in a new city. My journey that night was on the SE1 service, which took 10 hours and five minutes. I paid 554.000VND (£18/€20/$24) and slept like a baby.
For more on Vietnam’s amazing capital, check out more pieces from around Hanoi.
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