SE1 leaving Danang at 1141.
The Train from Danang to Nha Trang. 4th November 2016
We are still heading South, though in reality we should really be trying to get North as thats where the weather is better. We Think.
Theres been a constant feed of stormy weather coming in from the East since we’ve been in Vietnam and its really spoilt our plans. We had expected to spend some quality ‘Beach Time’ on the Vietnamese coast but its been so miserable we just haven’t been able to do it.
The one day we tried, we got soaked.
In reality we realise that some of our basic planning was wrong from the get go.
Before we came, even before we booked we did some home work that suggested now was the best time to come to Vietnam as the wet weather was at an end but it still wasn’t stiflingly hot.
Most of the information we now have suggests this is perhaps the worst time to come as it is so unpredictable and this sort of weather its not uncommon.
So, we have been re-evaluating our journey at every stage.
We stayed in Hoi An for an extra 4 days because the forecast suggested the weather would improve. But here we are in Nha Trang, a seaside resort and its drizzling, theres a stiff breeze and the sea is very rough. The forecast doesn’t suggest it will get better any time soon.
Which is what makes the apartment we rented all the more depressing.
We decided we would go for a nice self catering apartment with all the facilities, at least then we would have a comfortable stay, get the washing done, brush up on the swimming and maybe even catch Match of The day.
Sadly when we arrived late last night after a 10 hour train journey it became increasingly obvious this was a bad choice.
We went to the ‘Reception Suite’ on the 31st floor which turned out to be a room where there was old furniture, a dirty brown carpet and a desk. The lady who met us there was pleasant enough but didn’t bother showing us how the air-con worked or any of the usual pleasantries.
We did ask to see the room before we paid though it was only afterwards that we realised just how dirty the place was. initial impression was that it smelt overpoweringly of some thing sweet, like they had sprayed the room with air freshener. I did find a can in the cupboard this morning and I can definitely smell cooking even though we have the windows open all night. We definitely haven’t seen food for 24 hours as my rumbling belly will tell you.
One bag of Nacho Chips and two halves of Passion Fruit saw us through.
The layout was obviously wrong. The TV can be seen from one bed (there are two doubles but they are hard as hell. The thin mattresses are on a solid wooden base. I wonder if this is a cultural thing as it seems to have a Japanese influence) but not from the seating area. The bathroom sink is in the lounge plus the shower and toilet are all in one room. It just doesn’t work.
In fact the whole place is a pigs ear.
There is a kitchen area but before we cooked anything we would have to give it all a bloody good clean and i didn’t come here to do housework.
So we went back to find the lady at reception but although her shoes were still outside of the door she refused to answer.
Hungry and tired we went out into the rain to look for a restaurant but at this time of night, they’re all shut. Eventually we found a shop and bought two frozen pizza’s. Only to find we don’t have an oven, so they are still sitting in the fridge unused.
Its such a disappointment when we did so much home work before deciding to book this place the Nha Trang Apartments, Suite 3102, level 31, Muong Thanh Centre Apartments, 60 Tran Phu, Nha Trang.
Remember the address and avoid.
There is so much accommodation here, we should have had a great time. Instead of which we will have to go and see the management and ask to be moved which I suspect they wont do, or leave and find some where else.
If were going to do that, we might need to think seriously about whether we stay in Nha Trang at all as there wont be much to do if it rains.
I suspect we will have to bite the bullet and take a loss on the accommodation but I definitely don’t want to stay here for 4 days in the rain.
The trip down was interesting though.
We chose this time to travel ‘second class soft seats’ ( there are no First Class soft seats) because:-
Most of the journey was by day,
Sleepers weren’t particularly comfortable
It was cheaper.
In some way’s it was better, the seating was reasonably comfortable, the seats reclined and there was good leg room.
The issues, and there were plenty, were more cultural. They were about our expectations not being met.
Initially we got on the train OK (meeting some fellow travellers who were on the Halong Bay trip with us, getting off as we were getting on). The staff don’t help you with your luggage and its a long way up from the track into the carriage.
Once in we had to lift our two suitcases onto the over head rack as there is no allocated space for them. But hey, were big enough to cope with that.
What I wasn’t expecting was the noise.
Some of the write up’s we’d read said t can be a ‘bit noisy’ we just weren’t prepared for just how noisy.
Primarily this came from two sources.
People on Mobile phones who think if they shout really loudly it will be much better for everyone around them.
Two old guys who stunk of Fag smoke and got more and more pissed as the journey went on were the worst culprits, I don’t think they had used a mobile phone before as the steward had to show them how it worked.
The second and probably the worst was the “Train TV’ system they seem to have recently installed which consists of two Tv screen bolted to the ceiling and some cheap tinny speakers that are turned up to full volume so everyone in the carriage can hear whats going on whether they want to or not.
They played a Pixar Movie about a Dinosaur, followed by some really cheesy pop program’s which showed Video’s of local Pop Idols (they all looked like they had been digitally designed) prancing about imitating Western Boy Bands but without anything Raunchy.
It was like some thing a Sunday School Band would put together in their bedroom. Shockingly bad.
Then, and perhaps the worst, a documentary come cookery programs featuring a Vietnamese cook who has apparently gone to the USA and made good.
They particularly liked the bit when he talked about his Dad dyeing and how sad it made him feel. They cranked the volume right up for the weepy bit.
This trash went on probably until about 7pm when thankfully the volume was turned right down as most people by now were trying to sleep.
There was a regular supply of food available throughout the journey from large metal carts they drag up and down the carriage.
The most popular one is the Egg Cart.
This dished out hard Boiled egg’s which people devoured as if they had never eaten before and left the carriage smelling distinctly, well… eggy.
The rice Cart.
Then there was the rice cart, with cooked meats, vegetables and some sort of gravy.
What I lovingly refer to as the BBQ cart.
Grilled meats on sticks, sausages and BBQ’d Sweet Corn.
Plus a regular visit from the Drinks Cart which also offered snacks, crisps and Pringles. What would a train ride be without Pringles.
The toilets were reasonably clean, but only by Vietnamese standards.
The other thing that we couldn’t get to grips with were the stops.
We down loaded the route and it had three stops clearly marked.
Yet we stopped at least 3 more times and often for long periods.
At one point I thought we’d broken down on a railway crossing we were there for so long.
There are no sign’s on the train, nothing to tell you which station you are approaching and the stations themselves, particularly in the rain, are poorly lit and its impossible to read any signage.
The staff call out in vietnamese the name of the next station but don’t say it in English. In fact they don’t seem to speak any English and are distinctly unhelpful.
Our guy asked to see my ticket some 4 hours into the journey when he had been sitting (often sleeping) in the seat behind me. Why?
In reality these trains and the service offered isn’t fit for purpose by western standards.
They are ramshackle and neglected. They are without a doubt a Health and Safety hazard in more ways than one.
for example the Steward came down the carriage with a kettle full of boiling water and filled two empty beer cans with scalding water for the two, by now, pissed up old gents. What they would do with two cans of boiling water is beyond me but carrying scalding water down a moving train, come on?
So, if you can avoid traveling by train, you should do so.
If you cant avoid it or can’t afford an alternative be prepared.
Warm clothing, stocks of food and drink. Ear plugs. Plenty to read.
Do your home work, know where you are (we used Google maps to track our progress) and most of all, be prepared for the unexpected cause it will happen.