My visit to Da Nang was a fleeting one and I caught the train to Nha Trang, where I was to spend a little more time.
I arrived at the Railway Station in Da Nang with plenty of time to spare, just in case I had ticket problems.
I had not noticed, on arrival, what a small station it was – at the time I was discussing taxi fees to Hoi An.
There was one ticketing desk in the concourse, where the woman smiled, had a look at my downloaded voucher and printed me a ticket.
I was beginning to wonder if timetables in Vietnam were arbitrary. The train from Hanoi to Da Nang, according to my booking would leave at 20:10. When I had arrived at the station, it was scheduled for 20:00.
I hadn’t given this any thought until I realised that my booking for today was 11:28 though my ticket now said 11:25.
Not a huge difference but one worth noticing as both journeys involved earlier (than originally scheduled) trains. Of course, it could just be a seasonal shift in timetables as in the UK.
Back in the station, the woman at the ticketing counter, waved me to a seat.
There was only one train scheduled to arrive in the next hour… the one I was waiting for.
I moved through the ticket barrier and sat in the huge waiting area. I wondered if it had been built in days of more frequent trains.
The train’s arrival was announced and there was a leisurely stroll through to the train.
I climbed on board and discovered I was the only person in my compartment. Yes, I was in another compartment.
No personally addressed letter this time bit the bunk above mine was pretty.
As it was a ten hour journey, and afternoon snooze could be nice.
The train pulled out of Da Nang, along narrow streets between pastel painted houses.
For the majority of the approximately 300 mile journey, the train travelled through flat countryside – mountains visible in the distance.
The trains don’t move very fast here, and they stop a lot… journeys between Manchester and Leeds have clearly been good training for this trip.
We passed villages surrounded by banana trees and flooded rice fields where water buffalo swallowed.
Vietnam is a stunning country.
I discovered that there were four or five other people in the carriage with me – each of us the sole occupant of our compartments. Even though we stopped at two stations within three hours, nobody joined us.
When the food trolley came by a fourth time, heralded by the young man calling out, I bought a pot noodle and he pointed to the hot water urn at the end of the carriage
The boiler must have been on the blink.
The water was tepid.
Two choices… let the water take it’s time softening the noodles, by which point it would be cold… or just let the noodles get to breakable and eat it crunchy, but still warm.
I could have just left it, I suppose but I was hungry.
After around 150 miles, the weather improved to sunshine and the train was passing through mountains. There were more palm trees here too, surrounding the green rice fields.
The scenery was very much like a painting – green fields, buffalo and people wearing conical straw hats, cycling along the roads.
Of course, there were more than a few moped riders too.
The train continued to stop at a number of small towns, approximately one an hour. Each red tile roofed house had a balcony or terrace and each was painted in pastel colours.
As the train approached each station, there was an announcement that we would stop for a few minutes but passengers were asked not to get off, unless this was their intended destination.
At Bong Son, half way through the journey, a small boy wearing a Spider Man hoodie started running up and down the carriage.
His appearance finally resolved the query I had about whether we had a small goat on board.
He was trying out his voice and making noises as if he was bleating.
He and his slightly taller and older sister popped into my cabin a few times, through the door I had left open, to say hello.
Their father struggled to wrestle them out and, after Spider Boy had knocked over the empty pot noodle, Spider Dad confined the two of them to their bunks.
If they were getting off at Nha Trang, he had another five hours of keeping them in order.
At around five o’clock, the food trolley came around again, this time with hot food – piping hot (pan) roasted chicken legs and rice with onions, cabbage and chili sauce. At £1.50 a portion, it was not bad.
Shortly thereafter we arrived at Dieu Tri Station where the train stood for twenty minutes, while old ladies came on board to sell chicken, rice and eggs.
There were a number of halts as the evening progressed.
It wasn’t clear why these were happening and, possibly as a result of this, the train was over 30 minutes late arriving into Nha Trang… though it’s possible that this was actually a change in the timetable.
*Featured Photo: The route to my hotel was along Nha Trang’s version of Train Street. Finally! I got to be on a Train Street as one went by!