Sunday, March 8, 2009

train part 2.

27 hours seems like a daunting experience, but I think it was one of my favorite things we did in Vietnam (besides awesome sandos). We had our own little “box” and a train worker who liked to check up on us. We actually got meals on the train... which is a good thing because all we brought was a tube of pringles.. we're not really train veterans so we didn't really know what to expect.. but we thought the food was awesome!

note: if you are traveling in East Asia. these meals are NOT provided. you best bring your own cup-o-noodles.

The train experience was amazing because 1. It was relaxing after 2 weeks of non-stop motion and 2. The scenery was breath taking. We did some research and set our alarms so we would awake in the morning to the most gorgeous part of the Vietnam countryside: miles and miles of green rice patties.

We passed people working in the fields, a ton of burial plots just plopped down in the middle of the patties, water buffalo hard at work, some kids covering their ears – waiting for the train to pass, and glimpses of the sea.

I spent most of the day a few cars over where the windows in the hallway opened to let the air in. At one point, I was just staring out the window when the train shook and the door behind me rolled open. After the family figured out I was just looking out the window and not being a creeper outside their door, the mother and her ~2 year old daughter joined me to watch the fields roll by. We stood there together for some time watching the trees and villages roll by.

also, another video to keep you coming back for more:

Monday, March 2, 2009


I really like trains. I think that they are such fascinating modes of transportation. My dad lived near some train tracks at some point in his life and I was always fascinated with his collection of smashed pennies.. Lincoln’s smeared head barely visible in the copper. When I was younger, we would take trips to San Antonio with some family friends. Every time we went, we would visit the train museum. (Many weekends were spent traveling with our friends; visiting transportation museums… our favorite/the one we visited most often was the airplane museum in Galveston). Now, this train museum was great because it talked a lot about the history of trains and they even had 2 train cars complete with mannequins posed in the windows. The thing that sucked about this museum was that you weren’t allowed inside the cars! I remember being so disappointed the first time we visited and we couldn’t go inside the car and see what it was actually like.
Well, four years ago (at about this time) I was able to see the inside of my first train! My freshman year roommate and I took the train from Berkeley to Sacramento to visit her aunt and uncle in Placerville. I had a picture of my first trip in a train.. but it has been sadly lost.

Anyway, train is THE way to travel in East Asia. It is fairly cheap, convenient and always an experience. The first train I rode was the Dong Che… The fast train aka the really nice train. The second time, we rode the regular train with stiff wooden benches instead of the nice plush seats of the Dong Che, and the radio blaring over the loudspeaker. I was informed this was a “true East Asian experience.”

scenes from the EA train:

like this tiny sign is gonna stop anyone.


the hot water heater for your cup o noodles dinner.
looks yummy right?

Now, after living in EA for a good 6 months, I have taken many a train ride and can push my way to the tracks, fight for my seat and say zou zou zou under my breath like the best of 'em. Each train ride is a new experience, and I love seeing what train riding is like in other countries.

So, when we were planning our trip to SE Asia, we naturally looked up all of the train lines we could find. Since we were no longer going to Cambodia, and would not be able to ride this awesome train, we had to get our train fix elsewhere. We looked to Vietnam to do the job for us. Our travels would take us to Ho Chi Minh City in the South of Vietnam, but we were forced to take a flight out of Hanoi in the North to come back ‘home.’ Of course the only reasonable thing to do was to take the 27-hour train the entire length of Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi. YEAH!

to be continued...

stay tuned to read about the vietnam train sooonn