Train travel is one of life’s great pleasures as far as I am concerned.
There is no better way of chilling out whilst at the same time getting from A to B, though admittedly here, it is somewhat more of an adventure.
I have covered most of the journey between Vietnam’s two great cities now; Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City.
Not all in one go, I hasten to add, but over the course of the last 6 months, in various stages.
My first taste of Vietnam Rail travel was early in the year, when I went up to Nha Trang for a short holiday.
The journey got off to the worse possible start.
I booked an Uber for 6 am to get me from home in D2 to the main station in D3. Anyone who has been to the station will know that even finding it for the first time is like the search for the Holy Grail.
I woke bright and early to an enormous rainstorm. It was bucketing it down.
D2 flooded as it is prone to do and the Uber cancelled.
I had to walk to the highway to try and get a cab, waiting in torrential rain for 30 minutes, gave up, went home and went back to bed.
Two hours and a missed train later, I tried again.
This time I was in luck, got a taxi and duly arrived at the station to book another train.
I had intended to film the journey but as I was late leaving the second half of the trip in total darkness.
Shame really as the scenery on the way was really special for the first four hours or so.
A short time later I went to Mui Ne with a friend for a weekend break. We never really used our seats, but instead stayed in the “buffet car” eating and knocking back cold ones.
The time flew by. The return journey was enjoyed in the same manner, with the added excitement of watching two middle-aged women trying to eat pho as the train rocked from side to side.
Broth and noodles were going everywhere, all over the table and all over the two women, whose shrieks of hysterical laughter were contagious.
In March I travelled from Hanoi to Ninh Binh to enjoy some of the most breathtaking scenery I have ever seen. Then, a day later I went from Hanoi to Hue to enjoy the Citadel and the ancient monuments.
I enjoyed Hue, it’s a pretty chilled out place and there is plenty to see.
Leaving Hue I caught the train to Danang, en route to Hoi An. The journey along the coast is really cool.
The sea views are amazing as the train climbs over the hills prior to the descent into Danang.
I really hope that at some point Vietnam gets a high speed train.
The journeys are still worth making at the present time, but if time is an issue, it’s not great.
30 plus hours to cover the length of the country could and should be cut to less than 9 with a Japanese style bullet train.
But for now, I’m happy to sit back, watch the countryside slip by and let the pho slop around in the buffet car.
Following a highly successful 25-year career as a singer/songwriter and musician, Keith pulled out of the rat race and moved to Southeast Asia in 2008. First living in Thailand, he moved to Cambodia and then relocated to Ho Chi Minh City in early 2013.