We went to the rail station at Nah Trang to catch the night train first to Da Nang then an onward bus to Hoi An. It was going to be 10 hours on the train. The sleeper compartments are for 6 people. Fortunately we only had 4 in ours. The beds fold from the wall in a bunk style. The mattress is about 1mm thick so it feels like you are sleeping on a board. A small pillow, 1 sheet and a blanket finish the bedding.
The train was noisy and rickety. Once again it was ear plugs, eye shades and Nytol to the rescue. I slept until about 7am when Radio Vietnam burst in to life on the cabin speaker. By the time I'd worked out how to switch it off I was awake.
I stood in the corridor while Jill remained unconscious. It was fascinating travelling through the countryside watching the people in the paddi fields tending their rice crop. All day up to your knees in water and mud with only a buffalo to help pull the plough. Not my idea of fun.
I went in search of the buffet car. Leaving the sleeper carriage I moved through the train. Clearly we were in first class. Next carriage had reclining seats and TV screens. Then it was into economy. 10 carriages of wooden benches packed to the gunnels. People were laying everywhere. It was like a ghetto.I ordered 6 coffees and it cost one pound.
We disembarked at Da Nang. Good morning Vietnam fans will recall Robin Williams talking about Da Nang. We set off for our brekkie stop. Our guide phoned ahead and was told it was too late and the cafe was closing for the day. Oh well. 10 minutes later she phoned back. 18 people you say.....I open again. We rocked up and had eggs and toast.
Next it was a walk up Marble mountain to see the mountain temples and the cave temples. Down the mountain and run the gauntlet of gift shop owners. You come my shop mister. Buy one thing, one dollar.
Back on the bus and a stop at China beach. Big waves and deserted as usual.
After a drive we arrived in Hoi An. A very nice hotel. The weather has cooled considerably. It will get colder as we move north.
Hoi An is a riverside fishing town with a large market ,cafes and bars. Compared to Saigon it was tranquil. Jill and I were able to get some time alone which was nice. I bought a T shirt and Jill had a Vietnamese outfit hand tailored in silk. Vive Le difference eh !!!
Walking around the town it was a little disconcerting seeing 'cat sized' rats running across the road. Two of our ladies returned to their room last night to find two rats in their room. They called reception and a girl came up to help. Apparently she didn't like rats either. She stood on the bed screaming and swinging a broom and throwing flip flops until the rats stopped laughing and left.
I am developing an unhealthy liking for Long Island Iced Tea. It has about 5 shots in it and Pepsi and has a kick like a mule.
Up this morning and we thought we had a four hour bus ride on a public bus. Clearly our guide doesn't like the public bus which he says is smelly, dangerous and full of livestock. He has arranged a private bus instead. Result.
So I'm writing this on the bus to Hue, our next stop.
Now in the hotel in Hue which is a fair sized city. We've been out this afternoon to see the tombs of the emperors and a Buddhist monastery.
Tomorrow we are going on a dragon boat to visit the imperial palace. In the evening we are catching the overnight train again. This time to Hanoi. In Hanoi we will transfer to a Junk to spend new years eve sailing in Halong Bay.
Happy New Year everyone