Train escapade. Hanoi to Sa Pa

So back to the train story….After wandering around in the Old Quarter, trying to get on a self-guided walking tour, especially looking for the Craft Beer area we walked back to our old Hotel. They had kept our bags. We asked about some BBQ places from our wine store and he suggested back by the beer area. I thought I booked a hotel for near that train station but before we taxied there I decided to check. It wasn’t. The train to SaPa was in a different direction. We still wanted to try the BBQ. Our hotel people got us a taxi for way less than we had been spending. The driver was a little angry when the road was blocked by construction. It looked very close but he was nice enough to go around. As we neared the hotel, we could see the map showing the end of our destination and no hotel. The road was getting very narrow. Again he was nice enough to check and see if there was a hotel. There was. No need for passports since we would leave around 9pm. Had a little wine and went out to look for BBQ. As I have learned in the past, train stations can be confusing and the booking site said that it was. We were happy to see that the train station was, indeed, very close to the hotel about a half mile. We checked at the counter, right place, right tickets. Be back at 9:20. I had been arguing with a Viator person about our booking. She wanted name birthdate, passport number etc and we gave it to Viator already. We had a confirmed ticket, paid for with a code to scan. We left in search of BBQ. We thought that we may have seen one across the street from the station, but you never want to eat so close to the station, touristy. Well we walked up and down streets, looking at and vetoing many restaurants on the way. We wanted BBQ! All of a sudden we were at the Prison that at we had been at earlier in the day! Executive decision, let’s walk back to the old hotel and have the BBQ we wanted. They had been closed when we were there earlier. Got a bit lost on the way, damn GPS. This has happened before and why the Hell don’t I get SIM cards? Mostly because I don’t understand them. I had one in Saudi Arabia and it was a pain in the ass to get and to put in my phone but they did it for me. As we got closer, saliva running down our chin ( was Rabies hitting so quick) it was still closed, wait, no, it wasn’t! We were able to sit right down and order. Three choices small, medium and large, a small burner was on the table they brought sterno, lit it and put two little trays with sauces on the burner. There was some oil. Then a platter of raw beef and chicken, another with lettuce and other greens, onions, zucchini, okra, eggplant and tomatoes and a basket with two baguettes and a small sealed container with margarine. Watching others we just started cooking up the food. Oil splattering everywhere. Was it a great meal? Not really but fun!!

Back to our trusty hotel for another taxi. This time it was a meter. We were headed in the right direction. He suddenly dropped us off and said 200 meters and pointed. We walked and walked in that direction and no train station. We thought that we were making it easier to get to the train station rather than our hotel. We went into a hotel and described our situation and the bell hop escorted us for several blocks and pointed and said 100 meters that way. Then we got stuck on a very long road that was very local, no side streets, no hotels. At the end of the street we tried to get in a taxi. He looked at the map and told us to get out. Next we tried a security guard. It’s getting late now. We are tired and hot and sweaty. We have been joking about how “hot” we are but it’s really about how hot and sweaty we have been. As we talk to the security guard, a motorbike pulls up. He asks if we need help, or motions that. He would be good at pantomimes as we were becoming too. He said that he could take us to the train on his motorbike. With a second of hesitation we jumped on. Though the streets, passing other motor bikes, in puddles, in a traffic jam we realize we are at The Temple of Literature, not the train. He did not understand us. I think we even made Chu Chu sounds. There was no way that we were going to make it. I popped into another hotel asking for train station and he said yes, 100 meters down the street and take a right. What the f? Is that just the automated response? So we did that and then some things started to look familiar. We started running a bit, it’s dark and the sidewalks are broken up in many places. We tear through the hotel, jammed our stuff in our bags and ran to the station. We were lucky that we knew where the gate was but the tickets weren’t right. They needed what the Annoying Viator person asked for. I needed internet. It was not good. A man who may have worked there, offered his hotspot. And after a long time we had the right tickets, basically the same as we had and boarded the train. It took a minute to find our private car but we finally did. I can’t believe that we made it. And so many wrong directions. A little wine and the rocking of the train put us right to sleep.

A 5 am wake up. We ordered coffee but it never arrived. Now for a 55 minute bus to the actual city

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