Posted by: kim | July 20, 2007

Trains and other modes of travel

Half the journey is the travel, and we’ve managed to list all the modes of transport we’ve taken since starting our holiday. One major omission from our list is the plane. A friend asked us if we were trying to make an environmental statement by not flying. The short answer is not really, but we realise it is better not to fly and we have definitely seen more travelling overland than we would have if we’d taken a plane. The other advantage is it’s been much less stressful once we arrive in a city as there’s no to-ing and fro-ing from the airport — we’re already in it! So, if you can do it, do it!

riding a camel



Anyway, to the list:
Local bus
Electric motorbike
Bamboo raft
Fishing boat
Cable car
Private car
Electric buggy
Cyclo (rickshaw)
Shanghai Sightseeing Train
Lift (ha, ha).

There’s more to come (we hope), such as elephant.

The Vietnam trains have been vastly different to the Chinese ones. Shabbier and louder, but friendlier to some extent. However, this is probably down to the fact that more people speak English here and are willing to share food and talk to you, and when we were in China we always travelled first class with grumpy students engrossed in their portable DVD players. Because the trains book out so quickly in Vietnam we had to go for an overnight hard sleeper to Hué, and then a soft seat train the three hours to Da Nang.

soft seat train, vietnamThe hard sleeper did allow me to sleep but I kept waking up — there were so many children on board who didn’t know how to sleep, so they’d constantly run up and down the aisles. Plus, I was paranoid about the safety of my stuff although it was in the compartment under my bed and I was sleeping on top of it! We were also lucky that a family with older teenage children were in our cabin. Other people may have had bad luck – having to share with the chain smoking Vietnamese men drinking beer and playing cards until 2 in the morning that appeared to be in most of the cabins in our carriage (although thankfully, you aren’t allowed to smoke within the cabins themselves) wasn’t going to help me sleep.

They give you food on the train but I wouldn’t recommend it if your stomach isn’t strong.
soft seatThey like to reuse any food containers you haven’t opened. On the soft seat stretch, they threw our food out but realised we hadn’t opened a couple of boxes so they took it out of the bin and put it on another tray along with other unopened containers. That said, I’m sure this happens on planes all around the world — at least the people here were open about it. Has anyone had a similar food experience on a train?


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