Sunday, 11 June 2017

Cycle Saigon to Hanoi with EXPLORE! The train from Hue to Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hanoi and THE END!

The overnight train from Hue to Hanoi.

I love the information regarding trains you can get from the Man in Seat 61web page and had read about the train on this site and was exited to be using the train rather than flying to Hanoi.
In anticipation for the journey we had a good lunch at a small CafĂ©, then Hoan had advised us to get food from a small shop next to the hotel. I did go looking for a French Bakery that was mentioned in the Rough Guide but was unable to find it. So got a small Picnic of egg roll and crisps from Hoans relative. I had brought a box of wine with me from the UK so we were all set for the journey.
We got to the station at 15.00 and had quite a long wait till the train arrived, Hoan had divided the 12 of us up into party's of 4 as each cabin slept 4 people.
On the train there were many different carriages, some had seats, some slept 6 and some like ours slept 4.
EXPLORE! Cycle Saigon to Hanoi- Hue Station

EXPLORE! Cycle Saigon to Hanoi- Hue Station


EXPLORE! Cycle Saigon to Hanoi- Hue Station
EXPLORE! Cycle Saigon to Hanoi- Hue Station

EXPLORE! Cycle Saigon to Hanoi- Hue Station

EXPLORE! Cycle Saigon to Hanoi- Train

EXPLORE! Cycle Saigon to Hanoi- Train
EXPLORE! Cycle Saigon to Hanoi- Train


EXPLORE! Cycle Saigon to Hanoi- Hue Station
EXPLORE! Cycle Saigon to Hanoi- Train
It was quite a squeeze with 2 fixed bunks on each side, a small table with a lamp on it and not a lot of room for the luggage. My hard shell case was not suitable for the small space. But with a bit of force we got the cases under the lower bunks and settled in for the journey. It was very hot despite the AC.
Exploring the train we found a Bar, all the train crew were using the bar I really hopped that did not include the driver! A lot of the bar takings were split between the till and the crew serving and Beer ran out very quickly.
The Bar on the Hue to Hanoi Train



Each carriage had a small basin and toilet at each end, the toilets were rather pungent!
We did have a Cockroach problem with the Roaches climbing the walls in large numbers and when the carried next to us sprayed some insect repellent all the Roaches that were in there room relocated into ours.  
Despite the heat, feeling a couple of Roaches crawling on me and the train motion I did sleep and was awakened by the deafening sound of a song being sung over the loud speakers. It seemed we had arrived in Hanoi.
We were transported to the Hotel Anise where Hoan told us to pack an overnight bag as our bags would stay at this hotel. We had breakfast and a shower then got on the bus for the long 4 1/2 hour drive to Halong Bay.


Halong Bay and the Victory Star.

It is a very long way from Hanoi to Halong Bay and there is not a lot to see on the journey as the area seems quite industrial and looked a lot poorer than the South. However Halong Bay is worth the journey.
The itinerary just said ' Halong Bay Junk', so I was very surprised to see that our overnight accommodation was on the Victory Star Junk and it was a small cruise ship.
This really was the highlight of the tour, the crew were friendly and attentive, the food was outstanding and there was loads of it. We cruised into and around the bay, visited a floating village, some caves and the beach.
Even though the weather was poor it was still a wonderful experience.


Halong Bay and the Victory Star



Halong Bay and the Victory Star



Halong Bay and the Victory Star


Halong Bay and the Victory Star
 




 



Halong Bay and the Victory Star


Halong Bay and the Victory Star

Hanoi

The next day we did the long drive back to Hanoi and the Anise Hotel. This was a different hotel than was on the itinerary, that listed The La Belle Vie Hotel.
The Anise was OK, Hoan took us on  quick tour of Hanoi, seeing the Temple of Literature and
Ho Chi Minh's Tomb. That evening you could go to the Water Puppet Show but we had a roof top dinner instead.
Then the next day our flight was late in the evening so we had time to walk all through the old Quarter of Hanoi and generally explore the city.

EXPLORE! Cycle Saigon to Hanoi

EXPLORE! Cycle Saigon to Hanoi


The End

This was the end of our EXPLORE! Cycle Saigon to Hanoi adventure and it had been amazing. We experienced things we would never had if it had been a coach trip, yes! you do spend a lot of time on the bus but this is detailed in the Trip Notes.
The group were all really interesting people and supported each other when it was needed. It was a great tour and I am so please I did it.