Taking another overnight train in Vietnam wasn’t our first choice, given our less than restful train ride from Ho Chi Minh City to Huế. However, we had already bought the train tickets from Huế to Hanoi so we decided to go ahead with another train trip. We didn’t leave Huế until the afternoon so we hung out in the hotel since Caroline wasn’t feeling great.
At first we had the train car to ourselves and we thought we lucked into a half empty compartment, but at the first stop after Huế we picked up more passengers and a couple local business men shared our compartment for the journey. They didn’t seem to speak any English, so again we couldn’t really chat with them even if we wanted to. I guess after reading the advice on the Seat 61 website, we thought the trains in Vietnam would be more interesting than they actually were.
Our train arrived in Hanoi before 5 AM and we bought tickets for a 6 AM train to Haiphong. In Haiphong we took a taxi to the ferry terminal, and of course, the taxi driver didn’t drop us AT the ferry terminal, but rather, down the street. Why? Oh, probably because someone he knew was there waiting to give us a hard sell for ferry tickets to Cat Ba Island. We resisted any sales pressure until we reached the actual ferry terminal to ensure we weren’t getting scammed for overpriced tickets.
Finally we were on the high-speed boat toward Cat Ba Island. The scenery on the way wasn’t great, even if we could have seen out the very dirty windows. But we arrived quickly enough and without the scams that apparently plague travelers going the usual route via Ha Long Bay.
Anyway, we checked into our hotel, caught a nap and I got a much needed haircut. We also signed up to join a rock climbing trip tomorrow. Caroline isn’t going to climb, but she’ll come along for the scenery while I get some climbing in for the first time since before we left on our trip. I can’t wait!