Xin Chao Vietnam! Day 2: Cold of Autumn

Since we all shocked ourselves with walking several miles the previous day, we all sluggish the morning after. But we still woke up just in time to catch breakfast. And to see one of our friend be picked-up by his tour to another location. We had to see him out as we will be also travelling to the mountains of Sapa that night.

It was raining by the time we got out. We had to borrow umbrella from the hotel. It was almost 12 noon already as we got out. The plan was to go see the Water Puppet Show, which was described as a must-see show. As usual we had to walk to get there.

While walking we passed by a Springfield store and we decided to walk in and fortunately enough for us, the store was on sale up to 70%! Tempting as it may be I decided not to buy anything but two from our group walked away with jackets.

We got the theater to find a long line for the next show. Ticket costs around VND 60000 if I’m not mistaken. The theater is next to a coffee shop where we stayed, had dessert while deliberating if we will watch it. I personally didn’t want to see the show since I would be able to understand the story. The group decided to not to see the show and head on over to the Opera  House. In the Philippines, we don’t have Opera Houses but we do have convention centers that we can perform operas.

On the way there, we walked to this ice cream store which I forgot the name. Despite sort of freezing in the rain, we each ordered a scoop of this Vietnamese ice cream. For me it has a hint of coconut. Each scoop was about VND 10000 which flavors of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.

We got to the Opera House but unfortunately it was closed. I would have loved to see the interiors. But then we have to move on.

Next on the itinerary was the Vietnam History Museum which was right across the Opera House. Outside we a long line of tuk-tuks. Entrance is VND 20000. The tour starts at the 2nd floor. Majority of the museum are black and white photos of scenes of the past as well as some antique items showing the road of independence and struggle of the Vietnamese people as well as how the North and South was united. A really interesting museum.

It was about 5 pm when finished but what we have on mind was our train ride to Lao Cai to get to Sapa. We have arranged this with May de Ville Hostel when we got back from day 1. They were kind enough to assist us in booking the tickets in advance. Ticket cost was around USD 45 if I remember correctly. We got the tickets before we left the hostel this morning. I was informed by the Sales Manager Manh Tieh something about the tickets which I didn’t understand. I thought we just have to go to the station and present the ticket. But I was wrong again!

We got to the Ga Ha Noi at 7 pm as we plan to have dinner nearby. We decided to get the tickets. The man in the train station said that we had to pick-up the tickets at another location. My heart sank! But it was a good thing we were able to determine that the pick up point was a few minutes away from the train station despite being bombarded by taxi drivers saying that they can get us there and saying that it is far but in reality, they would have to go around to get to the location. Be firm! They can be pushy, really.

Wait, let me rant some more on what happened with the tickets. I was really sorry about the miscommunication. But I felt harassed by all the people who were trying to help. I know that they were only trying to help but I hope they have let us decide first on what to do rather than push us to do it their way. End of rant.

The rest of us went to Lotteria for dinner when two of us searched for the location. We had to walk away from the station first before asking directions.  Good thing there was a hotel nearby with receptionists who were able to assist us. It was just about 5 minutes walk from the station. The pick-up point was a restaurant where we had to wait for a few minutes before we were presented the tickets. We hurried back to Lotte for dinner. It was a good thing we were early.

I learned that Lotteria was a fast food chain in Korea and was genuinely happy to be eating something Korean after all that hassle. I had their  Kimchi burger and it was all good. Enough for me to let go of the mistake.

After dinner we had a few minutes of cam whoring in the station. Manila has trains but it is mainly to get around the city. We don’t have train stations for long distance travel to provinces. So it was a first for me and some of my friends to see LED screen showing all the schedules of the train. We each had picture there. By around 9pm we were already at the platform. We were joking around asking where platform 9 ¾ was while speaking with British accents. It was hilarious. It was drizzling but we didn’t care much. We’re going to ride sleeper train! Although, the floo network would have been better, LOL. There is a specific time when the doors of the train would be opened so we had to wait together with other passengers in the drizzle.

I was amazed that there is really a train conductor who opens the door and looks at your ticket by shining his/her lamp. We saw our cabin and I took the top bunk. Each bunk had a pillow and a blanket as well as a bottle of water. Good thing I fit in it. Since we were five, unfortunately one of us had to be separated. The corridor outside was a bit narrow maybe because of our packs but we were able to fit in all 5 packs in our room. At the ends of the train there is a sink  and a mirror for those who want to wash up and relieve themselves. Although the toilet doors will be opened once the train starts moving.

Of course I have to say that! So here was what happened to me. My bladder was full and I really had to go so I was anxiously waiting for the toilet doors to be opened. Since the train was not yet moving I decided to go back to the cabin. The train started moving after about 10 minutes and I rushed to the toilet only to find it occupied. So despite the moving train, I had to do the “OMG-my-bladder-is-so-full-I-have-to-pee” dance while waiting. When it was my turn, there was a toilet with a bidet with tissue holders. I was unzipping my shorts already when I realized that there was a window that was open. So who ever was in their houses and looking at the train can see me. I didn’t have much of a choice. The train was moving anyway.

Now the train ride was a bit bumpy and rocky as it moved to the tracks.  Plus there is this Vietnamese song being blasted in the trains. We decided to close the cabin door to muffle the song and continue chatting amongst ourselves. But I guess, all the walking got to us. I was snoring after around 30 minutes after getting used to the rocking of the train. I just imagined that I was in a rocking chair being lulled to sleep.

flippin’ out!

<pictures to follow, promise!>


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