Quick sluice down in the shower then back up to the dining room/bar for a huge breakfast. I will list here all the items that were put on the table in roughly the order they came. Little cakes, toast, jam, cheese, plate of pear slices, bacon & fried eggs, anchor New Zealand butter, beef soup, yoghurts, coffee, tea, bananas.
After breakfast: we ate it all apart from a few laughing cow cheeses, which Indu took for later, we marvelled at a demonstration by one of the staff members. Wow so skilled with a very sharp knife.
By 10am we were back on the road to Hanoi where we will be taking an overnight train.
Quan was entertaining as he described Vietnamese culture over weddings and divorce on the return bus journey. We stopped at a pottery, where they made anything from huge beautiful urns down to chop stick holders. We all sat down to tea and sesame sticks before heading off to our lunch stop.
Road to Hanoi appalling – full of pot holes!
Stopped for lunch – spring roll and pineapple and mango smoothie.
Passed water hyacinth plants….
We arrived back at the hotel to be offered just 2 rooms to shower and change in between 9 of us then free until appointed meeting time to go to the train station.
Michael had very kindly offered to be our guide and took us to the Old Quarter of Hanoi, where he had been several days previously. First he took us to a restaurant for the special Vietnamese Egg Coffee, made with beaten egg, fresh coffee and condensed milk. I had read about this in my book ‘The Silk Merchant’s Daughter’ and it certainly lived up to it’s reputation – delicious! Our next stop would be a sandwich bar where we ordered excellent crusty filled rolls and fruit smoothies.
I have to say the walks between these places were treacherous. We dodged between cars, motor bikes and cycles laden with produce. Absolutely no road rules whatsoever. Copying Michael we followed in single file, bunching together to cross the roads. He looked so confident striding out in front of a mass of oncoming ‘iron buffaloes’ and miraculously they stopped or swerved round us beeping their horns. We just stuck with him as he guided us through unchartered territory using the satnav on his iPhone. We reached the beautiful lake as dusk was falling and the lights shimmered across the water. We circled the lake before Michael’s final destination for us, a Beer Hall. There were several to choose from and we settled on one with a good fan, a loo and a view of the busy old quarter.
Back at the hotel, it was fun all sharing facilities preparing to leave for the station at 9.30. We said goodbye to our driver and boarded the train for Hue. Four to a cabin but one remaining – Gareth very kindly offered to share with strangers. This is such a good group; we seem to gel so well and the guys are particularly helpful.
Installed in our cosy cabin for four , Indu, Jack, Gill and me, with bags safely stowed beneath the bottom bunks, we proceeded to pool our resources of nibbles. A trolley with noodles came along followed by drinks. We bought some Tiger beer and enjoyed our little party before settling down to sleep.
The train shook and rattled its way out of the city and into the countryside. I tossed and turned on my hard mattress as the train swayed from side to side. Sleep clearly wasn’t coming as the train seemed to rock and sway and clatter over what must have been some crossover tracks., interminable crossover tracks! Eventually I must have nodded off then woke about 5 feeling cold. The aircon must’ve finally kicked because it was cold and I had to wrap the blanket round me. Now the train was calm and I was comfortable.