Wed 13th August
So today was a recovery day in more ways than one. It was monsooning but we marched our way to the bank early morning to retrieve Javi’s card. Five minutes in there and a signature on a receipt AND no charge later, Javi was reunited with his plastic. Woohoo!
We retreated back to the hotel as the rain was getting harder and more horizontal so it was difficult to stay dry. The day was spent booking a flight and hotel in Da Nang, our next destination after Sapa, and monging about the hotel and talking to people that came through. Also we stocked up on nibbles and water for the train journey.
After spending a couple of hours with a kooky British guy entertaining us we finally got picked up by a nice guy and jumped into a van with an Aussie guy and a couple from Holland (who I thought were from the UK their English was so perfect), and ten minutes later we were at the train station. It was a very well organised, clean, airy station and in the waiting room, under a nice fan, the tourguide explained our tickets and then sent me and Javi off on an earlier train than the others. The last thing he said to us was, “don’t speak to anyone, don’t stop, just get straight on the train.” Well ok then! We exited the building and had to walk across a few train tracks to get to our train. No platform or anything but there were big clear numbers above each train, and a guard standing at each door. We found our cabin and stowed away our bags. A few minutes later a Vietnamese man shows in a very tall Polish guy who we have a great long chat with – really nice person with interesting views on Vietnam. A while later a teeny tiny Vietnamese lady comes in and joins in our conversation (she has one of the 4 bunks in out cabin but her son and friend were nextdoor. She is so sweet and has good English so we talk about her and what she does etc and then she brings her 12 year old kid in to introduce him to us. So cute.
The next person to visit our cabin is the ticket man. He looks at the Polish guys ticket and asks where he’s going. He’s getting off where we are so says Lao Cai, but the ticket says a different place. He explains to the man, via the lady, that when he jumped on the train a Vietnamese man had asked to swap tickets so he could sit with his friend in the same cabin… and he’d obliged. You could see realisation dawning on his face as he was saying the words. He left to go find the man who’d swapped the tickets but of course couldn’t find him. What a fucker! So poor David (knew I’d remember his name as I got typing) had to pay out for another ticket to get him from the destination on the swapped ticket to where he’d already paid to go. His bubble was then burst and he went up top to his bunk to read his book. He was clearly fuming inside, as you would be! This country is full of wonderful kind people who genuinely would go out of their way for you, like I said before, never met a kinder people, but of course you still stick out like a sore thumb and attract scammers like in this situation. How frustrating! We were pissed on his behalf.
We shared a packet of crisps and quickly settled into our beds, mine the bottom bunk Javi up top, to go to sleep. Unfortunately I felt pukey pretty soon as the train seemed to bounce along the tracks, no joke! Being in the last carriage, number 19, we were basically being tagged along and had no carriage the other end to weigh us down. I’m being serious, I curled up under my blanket, nice and warm with the air con freezing my face (I like that though) closed my eyes and all of a sudden ny whole body was being bounced off the bed. At first it was funny then my stomach started flipping and I’d already checked out the loos so I didn’t want to have to visit them again particularly. Uff. After a while of trying to get to sleep with my earphones in Javi was experiencing the same up top and came down to cuddle me (altogether, AWWWW) which helped a ton! The beds are only wide enough for one smallish person so the two of us in one meant serious spooning – normally it would be uncomfortable but in this situation it made me feel secure and my stomach didn’t flop around so much. So once I got off to sleep Javi left me like a parent to go back to his bed and have room to breathe…
Tbc in the next blog!