Vietnam – Hanoi & Sapa

We flew into Hanoi the night before Typhoon Dianmu hit northern Vietnam. Tucked away in the old quarter, our original hotel (Grand Holiday) claimed they never got our booking because the storm had knocked out internet for the majority of the day and almost all available rooms had already been given out. Thus our group of 9 had to be split up along Ngo Huyen street, a narrow lane within the Hoan Kiem District. Lars joined the two of us at the Grand Holiday, while the remaining 6 trudged along a flooded street to the Massive Hostel. Ant and Helen decided to upgrade from the 6 bed dorm to the Hanoi Lucky Hotel and within our respective hotels, we all waited out the storm which hit the next morning at 10 am. Due to the torrential rain, sightseeing in Hanoi was a bust but we did manage to squeeze in a show at the water puppet theater, drink egg coffee (a Hanoi specialty), and stuff ourselves silly on bun cha. Tig optimistically booked us on a 2 day trek with Sapa O’Chau so we left Hanoi towards Sapa on a night train. Imagine our disgust when the train stopped suddenly at 1 am with an ominous announcement that due to flooding, train travel was temporarily suspended and we would be bused for a portion of our trip. An insufficient number of buses were awaiting all the train passengers and as a hopeful solution, our bus driver tried to squeeze an extra passenger in between Helen and Becky (which would have resulted in 5 people sharing 4 seats or a complete stranger sitting on the girls’ laps). Helen’s adamant “no, No, NO, NOOOOO!” refusal reinforced by a finger wag quickly became legendary and we all agreed we were very happy that Helen was on Team Sweat Monkey instead of Team Bus Driver because she is super scary when she gets mad. After a 45km bus ride, we boarded another awaiting train for the remainder of the ride out to Lao Cai, arriving just before 6 am. A short hour ride brought us from Lao Cai to Sapa and we grabbed a quick breakfast in town. Sapa is a pretty neat mountain town full of ethnic minorities, with the Black Hmong and Red Dao the two main tribes. Our uber friendly guide, Su from the Black Hmong tribe, gave us an exuberant greeting and led us on a 14 km trek to the village of Ta Phin where we stayed with a Red Dao family (Mrs May Sinh and her husband Vang). The trek was brilliant, with sunny weather and gorgeous rice paddies. The best part of the day was undoubtedly the herbal bath in a barrel tub – the Red Dao are experts in herbal medicine and we thoroughly enjoyed this unique experience. Dinner in our homestay was delicious and Robby represented Team Sweat Monkey by drinking Vang under the table with his home-brewed rice wine! Everyone agreed Sapa was an amazing experience and we were thrilled that everything worked out weather wise. From Sapa back to Hanoi, we had a sleeper bus that took about 6 hours. The rest of the group took off for Bai Tu Long bay the next day while we enjoyed 2 days of Hanoi on our own (Military History Museum, Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum, Long Bien Market, Temple of Literature, Hoan Kiem Lake and Museum of Ethnology). Its been a whirlwind first week! Coming up we’ll be making our way south, hitting Hue, Hoi An and Nha Trang along the way.

18 Aug – Our overland journey came to an end with the flight from Vientiane to Hanoi. But no matter, as a group we had voted to fly for an hour versus a 13+ hour bus ride…it was a no-brainer decision! Lars and Denise got Vietnam visas upon arrival while the rest of us already had our visas so we breezed through passport control and waited for our luggage. Tig coordinated a ride into the old quarter of Hanoi for all of us but once all of our luggage was shoved on, the driver suddenly doubled his asking price. It took us about a minute to offload everything. No way we are going to pay double what was initially agreed to. A public bus with a fixed price (5,000 Dong per person) came along and we hopped in for the hour long journey into town. Luckily for us, the bus dropped us about 600 meters from the Grand Holiday Hotel, which Tig had booked for our 3 night stay. Unluckily for us, it started raining as we were making our way through the old quarter. We made it to the lobby of the hotel just before the streets flooded under monsoon like conditions. While attempting to check us in, Tig discovered to her dismay that her reservation could not be honored because the hotel had lost internet connectivity all day long and they had inadvertently given all available rooms away. Tig argued with the manager and was given one room that could accommodate 3 people (we quickly volunteered to team up with Lars to claim the room). However, everyone else had to trudge down the street to search for new accommodation. When Ant and Helen heard about the 6 bed dorm at the Hanoi Lucky Hotel, they immediately decided to upgrade to a private double room at another hotel, so our group was split between 3 different hotels. It was pouring cats and dogs for a couple of hours so after trying in vain to wait it out, we decided to wander around to get some money, food and drinks. There are ATMs aplenty in the old quarter and street food in Hanoi is easy to come by so mission accomplished in less than an hour. Back at our hotel room, we discovered that the balcony door would not shut, allowing mosquitoes easy access to our blood. Hmmm, its gonna be a long couple of days in Hanoi!

19 Aug – Free day in Hanoi…what to do? First was breakfast with the group on the first floor. We were unlucky enough to arrive to Vietnam as a typhoon was set to hit North Vietnam later today, explaining the torrential rain we got last night and were projected to receive all day today. Tig held a quick meeting to discuss our upcoming itinerary to see what we all wanted to do. Everyone except Denise was keen on Sapa and everyone except the two of us wanted to visit Bai Tu Long Bay (an alternative to Halong Bay). After breakfast, we decided to brave the elements and do a bit of sightseeing around Hanoi, despite the inclement weather. First stop was St Joseph’s Cathedral. Next was a walk over to the longest ceramic mural in the world but the rain was relentless, making for a miserable morning. Finally, when we backtracked to Hoan Kiem Lake, we decided to let mother nature win the battle. Our rain ponchos had long ceased to be effective, we were dripping to the bone, and we weren’t enjoying Hanoi. So the consolation prize was to check out the water puppet theater where we ended up booking tickets for the 3 pm show. With over 4 hours to kill, we wanted to see what Hanoi’s famous food street district was all about but we didn’t want to trudge outside much longer. So we head back towards our hostel and ended up having lunch at the popular Pho 10 restaurant that was packed with locals. Meanwhile, Lars had an equally unproductive day and he joined us mere minutes after we got back to the room. We all relaxed until the water puppet show and Lars tagged along to see if he could score a last minute ticket (lucky bastard scored a seat closer to the action than we did). The show was better than expected and lasted about an hour. Afterwards, we decided to suck it up and hit the food street area but found to our dismay that everything was shuttered up due to the rain. There was one restaurant offering lunch specials so we did manage to get some tasty food before stumbling across Gecko, a restaurant that lured us in with its happy hour promotion (2 for 1 cocktails). Since the drinks were quite good, we mistakenly believed the food would be too. Our “King Size” pizza was disappointingly small and could have been a personal pan sized pizza! Definitely a good thing we had eaten already or there would have been 3 very grumpy and irate customers, ha. The rain wasn’t letting up so we decided to buy some beer at a convenience store for drinks in the room. A couple of hours later, Tig and Gill were up for a night around town at a place called “Legends” so Robby and Lars joined them. From Legends the group went to beer street “Bia Hoi corner” on Ta Hien Street where a big glass of beer was 5000 Dong (25 cents). Robby and Tig had the munchies so they got a late night snack at a street shack along with shots of rice wine for all. Take that Typhoon Dianmu – you aren’t gonna ruin our night!

20 Aug – We had the whole day to wait for the evening train to Sapa and it was raining off and on so we stayed in our dry hotel room for as long as possible. Since the weather outside was absolute crap, we decided to arrange for a late checkout and keep our hotel room until 5 pm (splitting the cost 3 ways with Lars). Around noon we headed out to Bun Cha Dac Kim, which had been mentioned in a couple of foodie blogs as having amazing “bun cha”, a local dish of two types of pork served in fish sauce with noodles and crab spring rolls. The food was awesome and we were all completely stuffed for just a few dollars. Foodie blog recommendation did not disappoint! Fortunately, the rain eased up while we were out, so we kept our fingers crossed for improved weather over the upcoming days. Back at the hotel, we had a beer and watched tv shows until checkout when we moved our bags over to the nearby Massive Hostel (where Tig and the rest of the gang was staying). Tig had arranged for us to leave our big bags in storage, bringing only a small day pack for our overnight stay in Sapa. Feeling restless, we hit the streets with Lars in search of another Hanoi specialty, egg coffee. It is made by whipping up a raw egg yolk and condensed milk and tasted surprisingly good. On the walk back, we noticed quite a few locals eating bowls of porridge from a street vendor and we decided to follow suit. Surprisingly, the congee was not sweet but savory, with chicken bits. Called “chao ga”, the locals were slurping it up like it was awesome but we thought it was just OK, nothing special. Back at the hostel while we waited to leave for the train, Robby had a couple of beers over his discussion with the receptionist on what to see and do in Hanoi…lots of helpful tips! Finally, at 8:30 pm, we bid Denise goodbye while the rest of us hoofed it over to the train station (a 15 minute walk). The place was packed with tourists…it looked like every other tourist in Hanoi was planning to catch the same train to Sapa with us! Helen and Anthony bought vodka and tea for mixed drinks on the train. When the train arrived, it was a mad dash to secure our cabins. There was very little storage space so good thing we didn’t bring our big bags! After getting settled into our respective cabins, we realized that this train (the Oriental Impress) was definitely geared for tourists as locals were definitely in the minority. The cabins were sleepers with 4 bunks per cabin, and we shared ours with Lars and Tig. After getting settled in, we tucked in for the night.

21 Aug – Imagine our state of mind when we got roused at 1 am for an announcement over the PA system informing us that due to flooding further on the track, the train had to stop. Of course we ignored it and kept sleeping! But soon conductors were banging on our cabin door so we knew it was futile to resist. We offloaded in the middle of nowhere and made our way to awaiting buses. Not enough buses had been organized for the train passengers, so we were lucky to find a bus that could fit all 9 of us. As the buses started to overfill, one of the attendants tried to take matters into his own hands, attempting to force a 5th person to sit/squeeze in the middle of the 4 of us jammed into the last row of seats (Ant, Helen and the two of us). Once we realized what he was trying to do, Helen was having none of it and got really vocal until the guy finally gave up. Later he tried to do the same thing to Gill but she adamantly refused to have a stranger sit on her lap for the duration of the bus ride! In the end, the train staff had to huddle together uncomfortably on the bus steps for the 45 minute ride to our drop off point. When we finally arrived to the next train station, we loaded back onto the new train and tried to get a couple of hours of shut eye before our arrival into Lao Cai. What felt like 2 hours later, we pulled into the Lao Cai station. Amazingly, the early morning fiasco of switching trains coupled with a bus ride did not appear to have caused us a significant delay. Tig had arranged for us to trek in Sapa with a company called “Sapa O’Chau” and they had a driver waiting to pick us up for the drive into Sapa. For some reason, Robby’s name was listed as tour leader for our group instead of Tig’s! The drive from Lao Cai to Sapa took under an hour on some mountainous and curvy roads and our driver deposited us at the Sapa O’Chau office. There, we were told we had a few hours to kill before our guide showed up, so we headed into town for some breakfast. Everyone else decided on a western style breakfast but we were keen on some pho so we split up. At the first local joint we found packed with locals, we ordered two steaming bowls of chicken pho…yum. One of the guys were smoking what appeared to be the largest tobacco bong we have ever seen. Robby asked to take a photo of it and was immediately invited to take a hit. A foreigner wanting to take a hit of the bong? That was too much for the locals who suddenly swarmed around Robby trying to teach him how its done. Robby took one puff, immediately became pale faced, light headed and queasy. Definitely some strong shit! After sitting down to make sure he wouldn’t pass out, the guys all started laughing, forcing water down his throat and wiping down the beads of sweat that had suddenly appeared on Robby’s face and arms. Then they started taking photos…both with and of Robby who had quickly become a minor Sapa celebrity. Too funny! Pretty soon Becky got pulled into the photo frenzy, with locals standing on chairs to be at the same height as her, ha ha. Once Robby recovered, we wandered around town until it was time for the trek. Sapa is a neat place. The town center was full of tribal women in their traditional outfits who were more than happy for us to take their photos. After linking back up with everyone at the Sapa O’Chau office, we met our trekking guide, Su. A jovial, easygoing 19 year old from the Black Hmong tribe, we liked Su instantly. As he led us through town, our group suddenly grew in size to double its original count. Yup, each one of us had our very own companion for the journey – the tribal women and girls would each claim one of us as their own and the others would immediately back off. We had heard about this prior to arriving but had no idea what to expect. Our new friends were very sweet about joining our trek and we were impressed with their level of English. As we wandered up and down the valleys, our companions would hold our hands across the more precarious crossings or point out something interesting to see. We were all mentally prepared for the hard sell later on, but it was pretty low key. When it came time for us to part ways, we were individually hit with a sale pitch for homemade handicrafts and jewelry. Becky succumbed to a small purse and bracelet which set her back about $3 (60,000 Dong). Amazingly, the weather held up nicely for most of the way. There were a couple of times that we had a light rain but we had wet weather gear and the sun soon started shining again. Lunch was at a small local joint that had phenomenal views overlooking the rice paddies. We enjoyed a nice mix of dishes and had way more food than we could eat. After lunch everyone was stuffed and contemplating a siesta, but we still had several more kilometers to go before reaching our homestay for the night. It was a sweltering day and everyone got soaked (not from the rain but from sweat!). The trekking itself wasn’t difficult, but the blazing sun made it uncomfortably hot. The landscapes all around us were very photogenic with amazing views of rice paddies…just wow! Throughout all the villages, the children would wave happily in greeting. There were piglets, chickens, ducks, buffalo and dogs roaming around freely around the villages. With all the recent rain it was a bit muddy in places, and we quickly learned that this area had been impacted by quite a few serious mudslides. Most of the mudslides were small but there were a few that were large and blocked the road or had pulled down power lines. We had to wade through the river at one point and there were lots of small nude children splashing around and having a good time. The kids obviously had no qualms about being naked together! By mid afternoon, we finally arrived to our homestay and met our hosts of the Red Dao tribe – May Sinh and Vang. They had 3 children but one was studying in Lao Cai, so that left 4 of them living in their simple dwelling. The house was very basic with a dirt floor and a big open area in the first room that was used as the dining area. The rear room was a large kitchen area. We were ushered out to the balcony where we had a nice view over the rice fields. On either side of the balcony were two bedrooms for homestay guests. Each room had several beds and all the beds were equipped with mosquito nets. Gill was having a severe coughing fit, so she chose to sleep in one of the rooms by herself to prevent keeping the rest of us up all night. The rest of us crammed into the other room, quickly claiming our respective beds. The balcony and guest rooms were concrete and wood floored, and we could tell that the family took their homestay responsibilities seriously as this is a major source of income for the family and they want their guests to feel as comfortable as possible. Opposite of the kitchen there was a room that served as the private bedroom where the family slept together. Off the back of the kitchen was the bathroom which had a western toilet and two bathing barrels. We were in for a treat tonight because the Red Dao tribe is known for its traditional herbal baths and remedies. They quickly whipped up hot herbal baths for everyone – perfect for relaxing our tired muscles. We just had to contort our bodies to squeeze into the wooden barrels, making for some amusing photos! After everyone had enjoyed a nice soak, the family served us garlic french fries as an appetizer. Then the entire family pitched in together to prepare our dinner, which was an awesome spread of 6 dishes served with white rice. Vang welcomed us all with a shot of rice wine. He got us to consume one shot but after that, we politely declined. Everyone except for Robby! Who actually didn’t mind the rice wine. Gill represented the ladies by agreeing to a few shots with May Sinh so that she wasn’t the only woman drinking. The Red Dao women wear black embroidered outfits and a red headscarf. They also pluck out their eye brows and keep the front and sides of their hair very short so that you only see the long hair from the back of the headscarf. After May Sinh drank with Gill, she showed her some of her handmade tribal outfits – the work was so intricate and delicate…amazing! Robby was a champ tonight, staying up late drinking with Su and Vang under the table. Poor Vang had to be carried to his bed after Robby was done with him! Great homestay experience in Sapa.

22 Aug – We were up by 7 am and had some tea and coffee. Vang was supposed to be in charge of making pancakes for us this morning but apparently he had too much to drink last night! Poor Vang and naughty Robby!! Su told us that last night, he had to help carry Vang to his bedroom. No brainer that Vang would want to sleep in a bit this morning. In the end, Su volunteered to make the pancakes so that we wouldn’t be delayed this morning. After breakfast we took photos with and thanked our lovely hosts before bidding them goodbye. Su gave us 2 options for our day’s hike. First option was a short 7 km walk down hill to the main road where we would then catch a bus back to Sapa or the second option was to hike all the way back to Sapa. After a quick vote, we unanimously chose the short hike. The morning walk was nice as it was not as hot as yesterday and we only experienced a very light drizzle of rain. We took our time on this morning’s hike as there was no rush. Poor Gill’s throat was killing her, so after we got picked up on the main road, Su arranged for us to stop at a pharmacy so she could stock up on some drugs. Back in town, we were dropped off at Sapa O’Chau’s office where we hung out in the office and stayed out of the rain (it picked back up right when we pulled into town). The staff kindly invited us to take scalding hot water showers in their office next door (bliss) and we quickly freshened up. Then Su made us fried egg sandwiches for lunch before bidding us farewell. We insisted on a group photo before thanking Su with a tip. He made our 2 day trek in Sapa quite enjoyable with his positive attitude and friendly demeanor…two thumbs up for Sapa O’Chau! We would highly recommend trekking with this company for anyone interested in visiting Sapa. When the rain finally eased up in the afternoon, we made a quick break for town, scoping out the souvenirs. While tempted, we just couldn’t fathom carrying any more weight in our backpacks so we resisted the urge to buy anything. After all, we’ll be back to Sapa and will have plenty more opportunities to buy stuff here. At 3:30 pm, we hiked down to the main church in Sapa where Tig was told we would catch our bus back to Hanoi. Wrong info! The bus station was not in sight (nor the bus). A frantic Tig ran around town to search where we had to depart from and came back with the info that we needed to hoof it another 2 km out of town. The taxi drivers sensed her desperation as they quoted ridiculous amounts to transport us such a short distance. Refusing to pay the outrageous fee, Tig had us walk/run over to the meeting point where we discovered the bus was running late. No need to stress! When the bus finally pulled up, a mob of anxious tourists frantically bum rushed it, with everyone hoping to claim a comfortable seat. Since there were no assigned seats, it was a free for all with everyone grabbing the first available bunk. For some reason, we were kicked out of our initial seats since the staff wanted to reserve them for someone else. Rather than argue, we simply hopped to another bunk and settled in for the long ride back to Hanoi. This sleeper bus was what we remembered when we traveled around Vietnam in 2010. It is designed for short midgets and was extremely uncomfortable for us long-legged people. We had to contort our bodies to shift to a semi-comfortable position but it was a long ride as we tried our best to squeeze in some sleep along the way. When we pulled into Hanoi at 10 pm, Tig took mercy on us and hired taxis for the drive to the Massive Hostel. After grabbing our bags from storage, we checked into the tiniest room we’ve had on the trip thus far. The double bed barely fit into the room and we had very little space to store our gear. Later when we checked out Lars and Gill’s twin room, we realized it was 3x the size as the double bed rooms. Oh to be single again! We were starving for some dinner but almost everything was closed in the old quarter. Tig joined us and we did manage to find a soup shack that served food for the next 15 minutes so we quickly ordered a meal and called it a night.

23 Aug – Goodbye Oasis family! We will enjoy the next couple of days in Hanoi without you. Lars swung by to drop his bag with us while the group headed out to Bai Tu Long Bay. Since we had already done Halong Bay and we thought this excursion was too pricey, we opted to hang in Hanoi while everyone else got some sun and sea without us. Happily, today was the first rain free day in Hanoi thus far, so we made plans to hit the streets. First stop was just outside the hostel where we ran into a street vendor (one of those hard working ladies carrying a wooden basket laden with food). After ordering 2 bowls of noodle soup for breakfast, we walked over to check out Hanoi’s Lenin Statue followed by the Vietnam Military History Museum. Two thumbs up for the museum, which had an impressive display of aircraft, tanks and weaponry. The flag tower was worth a climb, since it gave a nice view overlooking the military museum’s grounds. The tank that tore through the gates of the palace in Saigon to signal the end of the Vietnam War was on display here, as were some horrific photos showing the impact of Agent Orange (dropped by the US and still having devastating effects on the Vietnamese generations later)! We are fiercely against chemical warfare as it is a savage and brutally indiscriminate way to wage a war. After the museum we headed to the Imperial Citadel, but it didn’t really impress, so we gave it a miss. Next up was the Presidential Palace, then Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, and the One Pillar Pagoda. We contemplated visiting Ho Chi Minh’s house but ended up skipping it and heading over to the Temple of Literature instead. Robby had been on a quest to buy a rain poncho. No sooner did he spot one and bargain it down to an acceptable price when the skies opened up and started pouring rain. Despite the fact we were right across the street from the Temple of Literature, the thought of getting soaked while sightseeing did not appeal so we decided to revisit when the weather improved. Back at the hostel we enjoyed a couple of beverages and the AC. Dinner tonight was courtesy of another Hanoi food blog where we discovered the joy of banh cuon. Its a small rice noodle dumpling filled with pork and liberally sprinkled with fried shallots and herbs, served with fish sauce and viola. We also ordered some cinnamon pork and Chinese sausage. Our dinner was tasty but not as filling as most of the other meals we’ve had in Hanoi. Early bed tonight since we will be getting up at the crack of dawn to check out the Long Bien Market and bridge in the morning.

24 Aug – Up at 4 am to see the Long Bien Market and Bridge. Hanoi was really quiet at this time, as you would expect. However, once we crossed the road to the market, the world exploded as there was total chaos and mayhem – the morning market was in full swing. Thousands of people on foot, motorbike or bicycle were all carrying heavy loads and systematically weaving around one another to deliver products. We had to struggle to get out of the way or risk getting run/walked over! No joke…don’t mess around at this morning market. After spending hours observing the frenetic pace of the market, we left at sunrise. The market was winding down anyways. We had read online that it is busiest from 2 – 6 am and can certainly attest that to be the case. After our morning market adventure, we walked across the bridge, which offered a phenomenal view overlooking the madness below. Then it was time for breakkie and we discovered the best street pho imaginable. Pho ga served with mushrooms and onions…talk about some serious yum! We’d go back to Hanoi in a heartbeat to taste that pho again. Best we’ve had in Vietnam and that’s saying a lot. Our after breakfast snack was a fried sticky rice cake stuffed with pork and bean paste…not bad. Then it was nap time at the hostel for a few hours before we finally roused ourselves to visit the Temple of Literature. Sightseeing complete, we had bun cha for lunch from a street vendor, cheap and delicious. Then it was off to the highly recommended Vietnamese Women’s Museum. The sweltering afternoon heat caused us to spend several hours here which was easy to do since the
museum was laid out really well with nice displays throughout. Eventually, we left the AC comfort of the museum for a lap around Hoan Kiem Lake before heading back to the hostel, stopping to get some street food snacks along the way. The gang returned at 6 pm just as we were headed out for our late afternoon massages. After agreeing to meet for drinks at 8 pm, we got our massage on. Becky loved hers but Robby felt the one in Laos was much better. But hell, for just a few bucks who can complain? Robby joined the gang at the Green Pepper bar which is located at Hanoi’s Beer Corner. A couple of new friends from the Bai Tu Long bay excursion had joined the group and it ended up being a late night over drinks and conversation.

25 Aug – Yay! Today we were finally leaving Hanoi! But not until the late afternoon when we were scheduled to take a sleeper train to Hue. What to do with a full day in Hanoi? We wanted to check out its most popular museum, the Museum of Ethnology, which focuses on the 54 ethic groups recognized in Vietnam. Since it was located 8 km from town, we had to take a taxi there and we had a nice conversation with our driver who spoke excellent English. Wow, times are changing in Vietnam! The museum lived up to all its hype – it was excellent with hundreds of displays about the dozens of ethic groups living in the country. Out back in garden of the museum, there were 10 different styles of ethnic houses and dwellings. These were not to be missed! Altogether, we spent close to 4 hours wandering around the museum which is crazy since neither one of us are really into museums! Back at the hostel, we grabbed some lunch and joined the gang in hanging out in a 6 bed dorm room that Tig had coordinated for late check out. It felt great to take a cool shower to clean up before our overnight train ride. Then it was time to go and the Massive Hostel staff ordered 2 taxis for us, underestimating the vast amount of luggage that we were transporting. No way 2 taxis could possibly transport all 9 of us plus our gear, so Tig let the 8 of us go first and she hopped on a motorbike taxi to the train station. When the train to Hue finally arrived, we discovered that we were booked 6 to one cabin (Tig, Helen, Ant, Gill and the 2 of us) and 3 to the other (Lars, Denise and Connie). It was an insanely tight squeeze and our luggage barely fit in the cabin. Poor Helen and Robby were trapped on the top bunk and they had just a few inches to spare between them and the roof. Without a doubt, this was the most confined transport of the trip to date! Lars, Denise and Connie lucked out big time because no one joined their cabin of 3…so they had lots of room to lounge about. After a couple of vodka drinks in our cabin (everyone but Connie squeezed in), the gang wanted to keep the party going in the dining car. We opted get some reading on while everyone else partied on. Our sleeper beds were quite hard but it was comfortable enough to get some shut eye. Onward to Hue!

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