Continuing our Director, Charlie Hopkinson's, journey through Vietnam...
"After exploring the delights of Hanoi, we boarded the Reunification Express. This is an experience that all travellers need to do once; but probably only once! With six to a cabin, the unlucky two get the top bunks, which is not an experience for the claustrophobic - and I was one of the unlucky two in our cabin. But who really minds one uncomfortable night’s sleep when you can play cards with your fellow travellers, drink rice wine with the train guards and welcome in ‘Tet’ by singing Happy New Year, along with Abba…..
A word of caution, just because the train resembles a travelling carnival and just because you feel you might just need that final beer to welcome in the Vietnamese New Year, what goes in must come out. When you are ten foot in the air on the top bunk, getting up on an hourly basis for the first part of the night to visit the swamplands of the carriage rest room, was not a topline travel experience. But such is life in Vietnam, the Yin and the Yang, the good and the bad, and we really have seen so little bad.
After the fun and chaos of the train journey, the magnificant regal city of Hue, with its imperial city, stunning palaces and tranquil pagodas was a marked contrast. But the best was yet to come in ancient Hoi An with its charming backstreets and boutiques. We had two full days here, but two full weeks could not do this place justice. The highlight for me was a half day cycle trip through the villages and paddy fields that cluster around the river. Others headed to the beautiful sandy beaches and spent the day playing in the waves, drinking fresh coconut and chilling. A million miles away from wintry England.
On to Saigon….
Charlie is currently taking our Best of Vietnam and Cambodia tour (in reverse).