I think my husband (the other captain) has developed a new allergy: trains.
His aversion for buses is already legendary. I honestly don’t know how I talked him in to taking the 1726 km train trip from HCMC to Hanoi but despite trembling with terrible terrible train angst leading up to it we boarded on New Years Day for the next leg of our Vietnam holiday.
Our four berth soft sleeper was also occupied by three locals. (Yes I know that adds up to five inmates but I mentioned in my last post they do tourism differently in Vietnam).
Boredom sets in
We made friends with the kid who shared a berth with his granny. His eyes lit up whenever one of our electronic devices appeared.
We helped relieve his boredom by letting him wedge himself between us to watch a movie and later to play Angry Birds on a laptop. His victory dance when he scored was sensational.
This leg of our Vietnam holiday really was slow travel in slow motion. Through the dirty train windows, to a clacketty clack soundtrack during the 35 hour journey we saw endless jungle; paddy fields; sheep; goats; water buffaloes; many many cemeteries; rivers; a glimpse of the sea.
A meal of Bia 33 and boiled eggs
Our ten carriage train carried a live rooster. In cattle class there were babies sleeping comfortably on the floor and a local family having a meal of Bia 33 and boiled eggs.
During the night they did a sneaky trick and moved the canteen carriage from the front to rear. My first thought as I woke up was that we were going backwards, slow travel in reverse.
Finally we arrived in Hanoi. And were quickly scammed by a taxi driver on yaba. I’ll tell you about the Hanoi part of our Vietnam holiday in my next blog.
We left Australia in March after replenishing the anorexic bank accounts and returned to Langwaki where we lived in a room above our favourite lunch spot, the Watergarden Hawkers Centre and finished some work on Yana de Lys on the hard stand.
And finally relaunched with brand new standing rigging, clear see through windows, freshly painted topsides, a lot less leaks, new engine mounts, LED light tricolour and anchor light and a myriad more improvements. Still a lot to do, but at least she’s floating again.
The plan is to sail to Phuket and finish Yana so we can focus on cruising after that.
It’s been fun living in Kuah. Our room came with one TV station – A National Geographic channel which seemed to have The Dog Whisperer on a continual loop. I saw a Bollywood movie shoot, and one car crash out the window . No one was hurt in the crash, just a bit of mangled metal and lot of walking around in circles by both parties. And occasionally I heard all the taxi drivers over the road shouting. That meant another tourist was driving the wrong way up the one way street.
I treated myself to an Ayurvedic massage in Pentai Cenang at one point. The Njaravkizhi treatment was described as a relaxing massage in the brochure, but I did find it a bit hard to relax while I was being bashed by bags of hot rice.
We took the ferry to Penang for three days so we could get our extended Thai visas. I love Penang. The food at the Red Garden is sensational. We ate there every night, even though we tried to talk ourselves into trying somewhere else.
We lost track of how many times we got lost shopping for items for Yana de Lys which weren’t available in Langkawi. On the third day we decided to play tourists and hire a scooter to check out the Funicular rail at Penang Hill. It feels like you’re going up vertically. And when you get to the top the views are sensational. I felt like I could see all of Malaysia, while we drank the most expensive beer of our whole trip.
Meanwhile back in Langkawi we loaded Yana with provisions in readiness for our our trip to Phuket.