Yes, we took a second class Vietnamese sleeper train. In my defence, I booked First Class tourist tickets for this overnight train from Hanoi to Hue. I absolutely did not book second class tickets, at least not on purpose. There was certainly some kind of scam going on here.
Hannah thought the sleeper train was a great adventure. Emma also thought it was cool but wouldn’t take it again. Ben and Rob were laid back about it and had no complaints.
I barely survived. And I was a bit pissed at the scam going on.
Following our long travel day from Hue to Da Nang (see Road Move) we were happy to arrive at the Sofia Boutique Hotel. The hotel staff were overly attentive and we were slightly annoyed with an up-charge to pay for Ben as the third person in our room. We booked through ExpediaforTD and the reservation was clear on how many people were coming. We also booked a room with a balcony but were given one without. Colleen often gets annoyed with herself for not being more demanding. Not backing down this time, we got one of the nicer rooms in the building.
We set out in search of dinner and it wasn’t as easy as you would think. We were still craving local Vietnamese fare and all the places around the hotel were catering to tourists. We found a side street and ended up in a Vietnamese seafood restaurant called Ky Em.
We enjoyed Hue but our schedule, such as it is, had more stops on our way south (see the play on words?) so we were off to Da Nang. Robin Williams’ quotes featured heavily as we made plans to leave. Da Nang, Da Nang, viva Da Nang…
Hue City, in Thua Thien-Hue Province, is in the geographical centre of Vietnam. Established as the capital of unified Vietnam in 1802 CE (Common Era), Hue was not only the political but also the cultural and religious centre under the Nguyen Dynasty (the last royal dynasty of Vietnamese history from 1802 to 1945 CE). Continue reading “Hue – Eaten by a Dragon”
When we left Japan, we flew direct from Tokyo to Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city and second largest by population.
Based on overwhelming recommendation from bloggers and travel forums, after our first night at the Sheraton Hanoi (which you can read about here) we moved to a hotel in the Old Quarter. This was a complete consensus in the travel blogosphere. Everyone says ‘stay in the Old Quarter’.
According to the UNESCO web site, “Ha Long Bay, located in the Gulf of Tonkin, within Quang Ninh Province, in the northeast of Vietnam, is 165 km from the capital of Ha Noi. Covering an area of 43,400 hectares and including over 1600 islands and islets, most of which are uninhabitated and unaffected by humans, it forms a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars.” http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/672
The Cruise – 3 Days (or is it 2 Days?)
Colleen negotiated her best price for a 2 night / three day cruise through the Hanoian Hotel. This included travel by private van (we shared with one other couple), all meals, kayaking, two rooms (each with a balcony) and touring around. The price was $165USD for 4 adults and 25% reduction for Ben. That is 3.7 million Dong or $204CAD. Since drinks were not included we bought 12L of water and 14 beer for $14.60CAD and brought it on board. (That beer and water cost 266,000 Dong and was 11,000 Dong more than we paid for dinner!).
Because I’m full of wind and can’t control myself, I divided this too long post into two parts. See the first part here if you missed it.
Eating Like a Local – Hole in the Wall Restaurant
After a hot and frustrating morning in an almost futile attempt to solve our money woes, we followed our maps.me app (a great little app that does not need wi-fi) to a restaurant clearly marked as Vietnamese. Once we crossed the street, we actually passed on the little hole in the wall shop. It was at the front of a small alley and had one long table beside the small open kitchen. The menu board was in Vietnamese and offered five choices, one of which was bia (beer).
One of our more memorable days in Kyoto was visiting the area of Arashiyama. Originally this area was a walking area reserved for Noble Families during the 794-1184 time period. Today it is a popular tourist attraction for the temples, the bamboo grove and the Monkey Park.