Well what a journey we had making it down to Hue! I'll start from the beginning....
We were suppose to leave originally at 7.30 PM as we had bought the tickets for the night train to Hue, however as we got back from the city the reception girl said, that unfortunately the 7.30PM train cannot go due to the floods in the area on the way to Hue. She was kind enough to cancel the ticket straight away for us, even though we were not there. She said only train that will be going is the 11PM one and all others have been cancelled, she said we would have to pay extra $2 for the ticket, so we did. I sat on the pc in the hotel and watched xfactor on youtube to pass the time as we had to wait a few more hours before we left the hotel.
We got a taxi to the Hanoi train station, on arrival we were pointed to the waiting room area. When we got there there were 3 guys at the table looking at us with very curious faces, then one of them started waving at us and asked for the ticket, we showed and he took us to the train. He was acting very officially and taking us through the real ticket checking, took us to our carriage - so basically walked us for about 50m and said - tip! Jaan laughed and said for what, you walking us to our train? and just left him stand there, don't think he was happy.
The train either have normal seating, carriages with 3 tier bunk bed (sleeps 6) in or carriages with 4 beds in (2 bunk each side). We had a carriage with 4 beds in. Once we managed to find our carriage we had both been allocated top bunks. There was also a slot at the top where we managed to shove our bags in. The only way I can describe the train journey is: imagine when you drain pasta and you shake it about in the collinder to get all the water away - well I was a piece of pasta it felt. You were constantly moving about in your bed - the train journey was far from smooth! Jaan managed to fall asleep quite soon but I think I got to sleep at about 3am. I listened to my ipod which managed to soothe me to sleep. The train sometimes felt like it was about to de-rail! We both woke up around 8am and realised the train was at a stand still. After laying there for a while talking about how I thought we were going to die on this train, Jaan chuckled at that, then he went and asked our neighbours if they knew why we had stopped. It turned out we had been here since 6.30am. Apparently we had stopped at a place called Vinh and this was because the train which left Hanoi before us (8pm) was stopped there already 3 hours before we stopped and they found out it was because of floods. Whilst stopped here we got chatting to a couple from NZ, a girl from oz and 2 French girls who were all really nice. Information of whats going on was coming in in bits and pieces, first we were told that we should be on the train 3 more hours and then we will continue, arriving at 3 PM in Hue. Hour and half later one of the French girls said she just heard that we might be stuck for long and to watch out for locals, if locals will leave the train then it means we will be stuck for 3 days!!!! About half an hour later the french girls then tell us we might be travelling to another village by car and we would board another train there which would take us to Hue.
At around 9.30am someone who works in the train comes around and just taps us and points at the floor - we presume this means we are leaving! So we grab our bags and me, Jaan and the French girls head out the train. We follow a guy who spoke a very slow english. We then join a group of other westerns looking as confused as us. The guy points out a bus and then points at our group. It was nice he was looking after us! A while later and bus pulls up which turns out was especially for us westerners :) We all board the bus after a few locals try and push on and then get shouted at by the guy. The bus was boiling and not good on leg room! So we set off to what we thought would be a nearby village - how wrong were we!
A while later we hit some major traffic! There were a few locals on the bus at the back which started getting their luggage from the below compartment and bringing it to their seats - we then realise they were doing this just in case we drive through water as the bottom luggage compartment would flood! So everyone else gets off the bus and drags their luggage to their seats, with exception of couple of westerners who couldn't be bothered - this was a nightmare as the majority of people had rucksacks like ours so everyone was squashed in! Luckily the french girls both had a spare seat so they kindly put our bags on top of theirs.
We all piled off the bus to get what food we can from the nearby shops - we hadn't had a meal since we left Hanoi! We only had about 3 oreos left and a bottle of water! The little shop that we found must of been loving it as everyone was buying from them! They were even charging to use their toilet! I paid 3000 dong. We managed to buy some crisps and these sponge things with strawberry something in the middle - they were the driest things ever but it was food! Jaan tried one and was not very fond of them, so he didn't really eat them. At every stop when bus honk the horn then it meant we had to go.
After waiting for around an hour or so we started moving, the blockade was lifted and we moved off. We were told there are approximately 3 areas with heavy flooding that can prove tricky to pass and 1km in the first area hit, if you check the photos you can see the extent of the flooding, all fields were submerged and locals were moving around on boats. Water at places were waist height, we slowly were moving through - there was traffic going the opposite way as well. At one point we noticed there was a small block on the road, it came out it was normal passenger car whose engine got flooded and could not move any further. Eventually we passed the first flooding and soon made it to the second bit. That was the worse by the looks of it, water rose above the buss tires and all the below compartments got flooded, anyone who left their stuff down got their bags completely soaked. Jaan kept taking pictures from Bus window. Soon we passed the 2nd flooding and 3rd as well, which was smaller. by the time we passed the last major flooding we had been on the buss for 5 hours :) and we had around 100 km or so to go I think. Me and Amy had eaten up all Oreos and she was eating the sponge sweets, I didnt like them so I didnt eat much.
Soon we came closer to the coast and we could see the coast itself, skies started clearing and we were then told we should be in destination village in about half an hour. We thought, finally, soon its over....lol nop it wasnt,. We started noticing that the closer we got the slower our buss got, everyone started passing us. approximately 10-15 minutes before reaching the destination the filter on the bus completely clogged up and forced our buss to a stand still. Soooo close and we could not move, we thought we will stay there for the night. And it happened to happen on the uphill road. After crawling for last 100 meters, with numerous stops we managed to get on top of the hill and then wheel the bus down to a small village, where from all the places were selling filters. After changing the filter, we were able to resume the journey at normal speed. We arrived at this city after being on the buss for 7 hours.
We were starving and got onto the train, Amy said she would have never thought to be happy to see this place again. After placing our stuff on beds we made our way to the train restaurant....which was really in bad shape. Unfortunately or maybe fortunately majority of the westerners came to same conclusion so there we were approximately 20 of us all demanding food, and none of us knowing what is what on the menu :) Came out nothing can be ordered and there is only set menu. Rice with two chunks of meat and something meaty, don't know what it was, Jaan tried it and was something mix of chicken and pork = he didn't really know himself. After basically just eating the rise, we went back to our carriage and chilled till Hue - it was 3h ride to Hue.
Once we reached Hue, me and Jaan, Nz couple and the Ozzie girl decided to walk to our Hostel and from all the moments it just had to start pouring down like from the bucket. Ozzie girl stopped some other ozzie elderly couple and asked which way are the hostels, they took us to them and we then departed from the others. Place where they were staying was proper backpackers, dorms only pumping music and free drinks and such, cheap as hell. Perfect for singles and friends. We decided to continue to our place Halo. We asked for directions from local bar and they said just go 50m and turn right, well we missed our street, as we noticed a western couple who was with us on the buss and apparently they booked also in Halo, they said, you have to go this ally way which looked well dodgy - no lights and long dark path. No wonder we missed it. It came out Halo was full so we went to the Hotel opposite, the room costed us $15 and we were too tired to bargain so we just accepted and un packed, we were so hungry that we quickly showered and went for food. We actually were at the point where we didn't care what we ate, so we decided to get a pizza between us and bowl of chips. It was lush!
After very tasty meal we originally thought we would go and meet up the NZ couple and Ozzie girl for couple of drinks, but we realised we were waay too tired and decided to call it a night.
We got back to our hotel at midnight, after being on the journey over 24h. And there we thought this is going to be simple, get on the train, go to sleep and you wake up in Hue, but no, we had to get on the train, travel all night, get on the buss, travel through all the floods, break the buss and then get to another city only to travel another 3h before reaching our destination Hue.
Looking at it now, we are happy it happened, as it was definitely an experience to remember :)
Jaan & Amy