Saturday, August 23, 2008

Vietnam • Chugging along to Lao Cai

Reading the train post of my best buddy, Ironwulf, made me look back to our train trip to Lao Cai. I'm not motion-challenged so i welcome the prospect of the 9-hour overnight ride from Hanoi. I rode on trains before but this marked the first time Ive slept for the night on one.

Getting to the train station taught us a quick lesson: avoid the colored taxis at all cost for they charge double or more the normal rates. The train station itself was a bedlam; the language barrier could be unnerving at times but often, hand signals and pointing to certain words sufficed. Our softsleeper was comfortable and cool. we shared the four-bed cabin with a local and a European who kept watch as to when the train gets going which is also the time when the toilet opens. Why you may ask? It's because the train's communal comfort room is a squat toilet that flushes straight to the rails. Guess you won't see me trudging the railways any time soon.

It was also bedlam when we boarded off at hot and humid Lao Cai, the jump-off point for Sapa Valley. But it was a good thing we bumped into Hie, a cafe owner, who helped us get tickets for the return trip (tickets are sold only on the day of the trip). It's the little things like Hie's help that makes the trip so much nicer.


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