Three days after my first experience on the Reunification Express (read here), I decided to give it another go.
This time SE8 from Ninh Binh to Hanoi. Less than three hours, afternoon journey.
Did I book my ticket online this time? Nah. Last minute decision, plus Ninh Binh doesn’t seem enabled for online bookings.
So I turned up at the station 20 minutes before train departure time, only to find out that the ticket office wouldn’t open until 1pm.
Hold on! The train departs at 12:52 but the ticket office opens at 13:00??? How is that going to work?!
“No worry madam” a local man told me “you can buy ticket before train. Sit please”.
Mmmmmm, does he know that the train is very late and all will be fine? No idea, I was not convinced and he wouldn’t explain. I had no choice. Sit and wait.
Not that I managed to do that for more than five minutes! I was completely restless and kept moaning so I decided to start the queue at the ticket window.
I. Am. First. In. Line.
Well, I was. Until some locals decided to arrive from the sides and push to the front. Heeeey! There’s a damn queue here! I live in England, the land of orderly queuing, do not mess around with me! After a few minutes of me moaning at them very loudly (and everyone watching me) they all backed off. Yay!
When the ticket lady finally decided to grace us with her presence at 1:30pm (and still no sign of the train, luckily), I only managed to buy a ticket for a hard seat coach. No soft seats available. Oh well. For 58,000 dong (less than US$2) I can surely sit on a wooden bench in a crowded coach for just over 2.5 hours!
And so I did.
It was crowded (but not as bad as it could have been). Loud. Dirty. Smelly. Very hot. Luggage everywhere. People everywhere. Food everywhere (mainly on the floor). And I was surrounded by a group of very loud ladies who kept shouting on their phones and at each other. Deaf now.
But it was all part of the travelling experience (I am a spoilt Westerner, after all) and I regret nothing of it.
Also I met a superhelpful Vietnamese lady who – in great English – gave me lots of tips and info about Hanoi.
And this is what I love about travelling!!!