Thursday, February 21, 2008

Taxi and Train Rides to Sapa – Feb 18

Sapa requires an 8 hour train ride from Hanoi. Therefore, after a good dinner at 69 Bar Restaurant, we hailed a taxi to the train station. I always have a mini panic about whether the taxi meter will start and usually make a fuss about the meter. I have learnt in Saigon that the meter automatically starts when the car runs and I don’t have to worry about it. Obviously, the moment you let your guard down, you know what happens…

The driver seemed nice enough and chatted me up in Vietnamese. After the short ride to the station, the meter read 19,000D (16,000D = $1USD) and I handed him 25,000D. He made a fuss and I tried to explain that it was the tip. I realized, he actually wanted 50,000D!! He then told me he had said 50,000D from the get-go and I had agreed. Something about the meter not working. We argued and I ended up giving him the money. I realize 50,000D is only $3 USD but I still regret it now. I should have stood my ground. Dammit!

At the train station, it just seemed like there were a lot of people waiting with no clear indication of where to go. We finally figured out our platform and found our sleeper cars. It consisted of two sets of bunk beds with complementary water. Not bad!

Our bunk beds on the sleeper car.
About half an hour before departure, I had to use the toilets (obviously, I didn’t need to at the restaurant earlier). So I find the toilets, locked and am told that they are only unlocked once we depart. The Boyfriend’s experience in India was that there is no receptacle so they may not want us to use it before we leave. Lovely… I finally get to use the squat toilet and his explanation is correct. I abstain from drinking the rest of the ride.

I’ve never slept on a sleeper train and was a bit apprehensive because I’m a difficult sleeper. After putting earplugs in to block noise off, your body still feels all the motions of the train. In the middle of the night, it stopped abruptly, water bottles and my glasses being thrown on the ground. I did get to sleep though, frequently interrupted, but it was relatively comfortable.

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