12 hour Train journey from Hue to Nha Trang

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March 1st 2014
Published: March 4th 2014
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01/03/2014 12 hour Train journey from Hue to Nha Trang

Up bright and early for our taxi to the station. We had a bag full of food as previous experience of Asian train food in Indonesia had meant I spent a night in the bathroom so taking no chances. Bananas from breakfast bar, biscuits, bottles of juice and (non)-iced tins of coffee all to hand. We were glad of them later when we saw exactly what was served on the trolleys which passed us about 3 times during the journey. Glad we were sticking to biscuits. Half way along a local, after a discussion with his fellow travellers asked us why we were not eating dinner. I politely replied we weren’t hungry !

We had booked the soft seat option on the train, all air-conditioned. Train also had hard seats and sleeping compartments but as we were deliberately taking the daytime train so we could see the country we passed through we had no intention of sleeping.

The train was an hour late arriving (from Hanoi) and setting off. Only 5 minutes allowed for the stop in Hue so quite a scramble to board especially when lugging suitcases and carry on bags. Platform is at rail level so have to lift the case 3 foot up the steps onto the train. Someone helped me, thank goodness.

Bob managed to get three bags up on the very high rack – one half way down the carriage. The lady in front of me (we had one of the 2 half tables in the compartment) had her full sized suitcase in front of her (and therefore of me too) and the table filled with her handbag and other stuff. Felt a bit crowded in but she got off at next stop, 3 hours later and I grabbed some leg room back.

Man opposite was very smiley but I deplored his eating method which was lip-smacking full mouth open as he devoured the train supplied meal with relish. I did not enjoy any single bite and shut my eyes until it was finished !

The compartment windows were all firmly shut as it was air-conditioned so I took myself off to the end of the carriage for quite a lot of the journey so I had a clear view through the door window. Clear as I could get anyway as there were bars at the window so the open space was only a foot square.

I note that the door was padlocked shut to the floor. I presume this was the case with all the doors so heaven forbid any train should have an accident as the only opening windows are restricted to 12 inches and the doors firmly locked – from the inside.

As far as Da Nang, the first stop I was a little disappointed that we were travelling backwards, on the other side of the train from the coast. The train miraculously turned round at Da Nang (went into and out of the station on same bit of line) and from that point we went forwards with the coast on our side.

The train only stopped half a dozen times where one set of people got off and another, carrying huge assortments of boxes, bags and food but thank goodness, no chickens or live stock, got on. Ladies passed up and down the compartm after each stop offering odd souvenirs and even odder snacks but we declined. The passengers were probably 95% local, Vietnamese so we didn’t have much conversation with them apart from quite a lot of smiles and nods. Think most tourists take the overnight train in the sleeping compartments.

We rode for 12 hours through a very green, and often beautiful countryside. We had expected to be by the sea most of the way but I think it was only an hour near the start of the journey and again at the end, by which time it was dark. The coast line we saw looked lovely, gorgeous sandy beaches and lots of boats on the water. Also spotted an entire small bay which seemed to be filled with salt farms.

Apart from that it was agriculture, all the way. Not just rice, though rice there was aplenty but also lots of sweetcorn (which is for sale on every street corner in the town). No hedges, no walls just strips of land separated off by the different crops growing there.

The Vietnamese seem to be very industrious and everywhere we passed there were men and women working out in the fields tending their crops. Not many animals really which always makes us wonder where the meat we eat comes from. Certainly few chickens but chicken is always on the menu. I did spot a small goat herd at one point but no sheep or pigs just some cattle and water buffalo. Main point I noticed was that every single job in the fields and gardens was done by hand, didn’t see a single tractor or plough, just men and women working with their hands and their hand tools.

All fascinating and I spent as much time at the door with the open window as I did sitting in my reserved seat.

It was dark for the last couple of hours (as we were still running that hour late) so we didn’t see the coastline as we returned to it except for the lights on the fishing boats out in the bays.

It was after 9pm by the time we arrived in Nha Trang. Another scramble to get the cases off the racks and down from the train then a taxi to our hotel, Novotel, on the seafront.

A brilliant room with a lovely sea view. We were offered an upgrade but declined and were pleased we had as what we had was already perfect.

A bit wobbly from such a long train journey we decided on a snack from room service. Club sandwich and fries was perfect.

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