Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hanoi and train to Sapa

I arrived to Hanoi in the morning. Immigration went smoothly and in fact, they took only one form with one picture instead of two. By the time I arrived to the centre by bus 17, it stopped raining and I packed up with two other girls who just came from Bangkok. We had lunch together and exchanged our plans and info and went to get some accommodation. I went to centre backpackers as I was happy to crash somewhere soon as i was pretty tired. It is a place for party people so not entirely for me. I went to find something cheaper and more like me place (without my back pack) and after seeing few, I picked one and moved there next morning - lucky guesthouse 2 at the edge of old town and close to railway. Hanoi is famous for mad traffic and I was very happy that I have found "how to cross a street in Hanoi" article online. :-) Also I found my way to the north bound train station and bought my self a DAY train to Sapa. Everyone goes by the expensive and luxurious night sleeping train offered by many agencies. But I just wanted to taste how the normal train travel in Vietnam is like and it was a good sample, I tell you :-) ! The train left at 6:10 am and arrived to Lao Cai 5 pm. I got soft seat in coach with aircon, it was a dirty train, nothing special. But surely better then the wooden benches in other coaches. The countryside I have seen from barred window was very green and very agricultural. Several people passed through the train selling different kind of food and drinks and many passengers changed too. For example the seat behind me was later taken by a guy in a green uniform who stuck his very smelly feet between my seat and the window so I moved away and dared to gesture my opinion on that to him. As a result he took off his green socks... it helped a bit. Well it was fun, but I admit it was tiering too. Arriving to Lao Cai with a delay just on time to catch the last bus to Sapa. This bus is official government bus and costs 28k+15k for a bag.

The famous annoying guys trying to get everyone into a minibus are hard to shake off and about 10 of them followed me until they saw me getting the official option. We got to Sapa just when the dark falls and again new people fighting for me to get to their hotel. It was sad as I was the only foreigner coming, so only one could win. At the end I gave up and went on with one of them, I was tired and needed a bed and rest. And he took me on is bike. He gave me a good price for single room with bathroom. Its a bit damp and smells a bit mouldy, but looks clean.

My breath was taken away by the green views and the beauty of this mountains, slowly I was realising that this was part of my dream and happiness flooded me. More greenery to come tomorrow, when I will stay in a village with a local family. Cannot wait!

Joining a couchserfing meeting in Hanoi was a good move. Those lovely people meet every Sunday, so if it suits you a tiny bit, I can only recommend it. I had great time, all spoke good English and gave me interesting insights as well as took me to a Cafe Acoustic for authentic night scene. Thank you so much!