Nha Trang to Hue

Nha Trang Travel Blog

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At the train station

Today was another day of waiting around doing nothing before our train journey in the evening. Our train was at 19:26 so we had from check out at 12 until 7pm to waste time.

Since there’s not that much to do in Nha Trang besides the beach, we decided to pay a bit extra and take our time repacking all our stuff and having a room and shower to go back to before checking out at 6pm instead. This was a good choice as Fab ended up with a bit of a dodgy stomach in the morning, and I was still feeling a bit weak from the heat exhaustion (Google self- diagnosis) that I had yesterday (needless to say I have firmly learnt my lesson).

We popped over to the restaurant opposite and had some lunch of cheeseburgers and fries, which was delicious, hot, fresh and satisfying.

The luggage compartment
We haven’t been overly impressed with the Vietnamese food in Nha Trang, so we thought we’d try something Western.

We then had a wander around town, bought some bits and bobs we needed, including fruit concentrate to make the bottled water more palatable and some toilet paper for the 12 hour train journey ahead, just in case!

On our way back to the hotel, Fab pointed and said “what’s that?”. I looked, and this tiny little furry creature was crossing our path. It was a newborn kitten! It was absolutely miniture. No longer than the length of my sunglasses and just so teeny tiny. Now, of course, I didn’t have my camera on me, and Fab’s Blackberry doesn’t have a camera on it. We petted the kitty which was so affectionate and cute, and wondered if it was an orphan. There was a little bowl with some noodles in it, so we assumed someone was feeding it, but we just wanted to put it in a pocket and take it with us. I was worried that it would get squished by a motorcycle or stepped on, so I lifted it over to the side of the street near the little bowl, in the hopes that it would be okay.
It really was the cutest thing in the world. We agreed to name it Sasha, as it reminded me of my friend and old work colleague (in a good way, of course).

That pretty much summed up our day. We got a taxi to the train station and waited for our train, hopeful that we’d be sharing with some nice people. The train was running a bit late, but when we went out to the platform there was loads of people around pointing ignorant Westerners to the right spot on the platform.

We found our way to the end of the platform as we were in the second from last carriage. Standing nearby was a Vietnamese guy in a cowboy hat that kept snorting and spitting really loudly. We wondered if his spitting was indicating some contempt towards us, but that could just be our sensitive dispositions working overtime. Spitting is a commonly seen occurance in Vietnam, and also, but less so, in Hong Kong (possibly due to the recent H1N1 swine ‘flu virus ‘pandemic’ and it’s campaigns for people to spit into tissues instead). Spitting is widely accepted in Chinese culture - so more gobbing to look forward to in our next country.

Anyway, as we stood waiting for the train, we said we’d be happy with whoever we stay with, as long as it wasn’t Spitty McSpittyson. The train arrived, we found our bunk, and right behind us follows Mr McSpittyson. He grabbed his bunk and made himself comfortable. Fab and I looked at each other and just smiled. We had the top bunks, Spitty was on one of the bottom bunks, and the final bottom bunk was home to a woman, her elderly mother and her infant.

We tried to put our rucksacks on the luggage compartment, but they were too small so I had to unpack some of mine to squeeze it in. Fab gave up and just put his on the end of the bed, and slept with his feet on it.

Note - if you have a travelpack style of rucksack, unzip the rucksack straps as it takes less space on luggage racks if it’s a bit of a squeeze.

Our train was the SE6, soft sleeper class, carriage 10, bunks 3 and 4 (which were top bunks), we paid around 450,000 Vietnamese Dong for the ticket, which works out at around £16 each at current exchange rate.

The difference between soft sleeper and hard sleeper is that you get a mattress which is three times thicker, there are only 4 people per compartment (or supposed to be) and you get a Western style toilet at the end of the carriage.

In my opinion, I preferred the humble hard sleeper, which had more room for luggage, a better view from the window, and at least when you cram 8 people into a 6 berth compartment (as we had before) there’s relatively more space than cramming 6 into a 4 berth compartment.

The journey was approximately 12 hours long, and naturally, now Fab’s making me drink more, I have to visit the ladies room more, which is one of the annoying side effects of being hydrated. So I hopped down from my bunk and tried to get out of the cabin - but I couldn’t work the door. I looked around for help and no-one wanted to show me. I look at Fab and he suggested different ways before one of the 3 on the bottom bunk demonstrated, but she couldn’t open it either. After lots of pulling and tugging I gave up and started contemplating having to wait 12 hours to visit the bathroom, or peeing into a bottle (or plastic bag!). Too much information yet?!

Fab tells me to try the door again, which I reluctantly do, for fear of looking like an idiot who can’t open a simple door.
Anyway, Fab suggested pushing the door closed while holding down the latch and then pulling it open, which worked - so I dashed to the bathroom hoping I could get back in again.

Later in the evening, Spitty McSpittyson got up to open the door too -  I turned on the light so he could see what he was doing and he was stuck too. I tried to show him how to do it, and he got out. Moments later he’d locked himself out somehow - so I helped him in again - no-one could open the door without issue it seemed.

1. When you sleep on the top bunk of a sleeper train, you are in control of the main compartment lights and have to judge when to turn them off (and on again). We didn’t want to put everyone in the dark so turned off the strip lights and left the orange lights on until around 9:30pm, by which time people seemed to be asleep, so turned off the other ones. There must be an etiquette to dealing with train lights that we don’t know about, but I think the above worked well. No-one complained anyway.

2. If you get the SE6 train (ours was Saigon- Hanoi bound, but it probably does the reverse route) and stay in compartment 10 - don’t get freaked out if you can’t get out of the compartment. Pull the handle to your left with your left hand, push the door right (towards closed) with your right hand, then pull the door right again (holding the handle down the whole time). Also, don’t turn the lock underneath the handle clockwise or you’ll get locked out - which could be annoying if no-one else is in the compartment with you.

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At the train station
At the train station
The luggage compartment
The luggage compartment
Nha Trang
photo by: rotorhead85