Vietnamese trains

On the train from Ho Chi Minh City

When we woke up we were far away from any city, and deep in rice paddy
country. Outside the window was an idyllic scene of vivid green rice
paddies, being tended by people in pointy straw hats, and with water
buffalo roaming the paths. It is like sleeping in a hotel room that moves.
The Vietnamese railways seem fairly similar to other Asian railways – each
sleeper coach has its own guard to look after you,and a couple of squat
toilets at the end of the carriage. We were the only foreigners on the
train, so the girls had drawn quite a crowd as we set off, with lots of
women wandering down the train to see their blonde hair and fair skin.

Chopstick breakfast

When breakfast was delivered, they started visiting again, to watch the
girls eat with the chopsticks. They gamely tucked into rice, chicken and
pork under the eyes of half a dozen women, all chatting and chuckling at
their slow paced eating with chopsticks. I guess to them it looked
cack-handed, but I was amazed that the girls just tucked in and got on
with it, despite the audience and the food (next time, I think we’ll take
some breakfast things with us on the train, as everybody else seemed to

We arrived in Danang mid-morning, and took a taxi the 30km to Hoi An, a
World Heritage town on the coast. After the chaos of Saigon, it was a
relief to arrive in a nice, quiet city with few cars and where
everything’s in walking distance.

Actually, the ‘taxi to Hoi An’ bit wasn’t as easy as it sounds. The actual
experience was something like this:

We walk out of Danang station
Taxi 1: I take you Hoi An for $10 (nice shiny taxi)
Taxi 2: I take you for $6 (old grotty taxi)
Us: Okay, we’ll take you (Start walking towards grotty taxi)
Taxi 1: Okay, I take you for $6 (We change direction and get into nice,
shiny taxi)

Taxi 1 takes us 100 metres away from the station and stops, and then says:
You give me $10 or I not take you.
Argument ensues!
Taxi 2, pulling alongside: He no good – I take you for $6
We unload ourselves and our luggage from Taxi 1, and get into Taxi 2 for a
smooth journey to Hoi An, with no further hassle!

The moral of the story? Don’t expect somebody to stick to the price they’d
already agreed, especially if they’re driving the smart green and white
taxis at Danang station!