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


Train story soon, it’s crazy! Once we got to SaPa, as usual difficult to figure out where we were and where we were supposed to be. Asked a taxi driver and as usual 100-200 meters in that direction too. And to the right.

We found it with out too much trouble, checked in paid. Sometimes my cards work and sometimes Julie’s do. I think my ATM is blocked. Had time for breakfast and we chose right nest door after yesterday’s fun. Eggs and pho. Each pho is different, some better than others and some places have more condiments to put in. Repacked a few things so we just had a small backpack. And away we went. Suddenly we were climbing over a small fence and heading down. It looked like a local dump with loose stones and bricks. Julie was excited. I was not!

Sa Pa Sisters Adventure
Sa Pa
Ching our guide

No Internet

This is the trouble with travel. Sometime the Internet doesn’t work or eats my words. I had written a long dialog about our fun’s times getting to the train station. And tried to save it and it is in the lost land of lost emails, homework’s and single socks.

At the moment, Julie and I are drinking coffee and snooping around a Homestay in the rice paddies of northern Viet Nam. About 3 km from China

My view

I will probably have to add pics later as the internet is iffy and loading one pic takes at least 30 seconds. And I will post smaller posts so I can be sure that it posts.

Paisley’s doppelgänger
Dewey’s doppelgänger
Rice Paddies

Yesterday Sept 16th, 2022, part two

After the coffee shop we stopped in to our hotel for their breakfast. It’s fun to try all

Of the interesting new items. Their California rolls not good, fruit good. All the buffets have liver pate. Julie had son aromatic Pho and we liked the gingered dates.

Next stop Ho Lao Prison. I knew that most of it had been demolished but I still wanted to go. To pt my respects as a proud American. Most of the museum was about the French enslaving and imprisoning the Vietnamese. The very end had a small room with a video showing how the Americans bombed innocent children and schools. They showed Americans playing ping pong ball and celebrating Christmas. They did not mention how they severely tortured our men, The sickening details are in many books. I realize that they have their side of the story but I have met one of these tortured victims

Caves of Cat Ba yesterday

After we left the fancy hotel we went on a little private tour. As we checked out, they said wait 5 minutes so we can check your room. For what? They treated us poorly because we were back packers. We think. Well we took their electric golf cart ride to the private tour and yes, we did take the cute robes!

The first cave

We walked to the Entrance and it was closed. Started to walk back and a woman popped out of the field and ran to open the office to take our 60 cents. She turned on the lights and then escorted us to the caves. Nothing too exciting to me and very hot.

Cave two

Another long walk to the entrance. If they caves hid people during the war, how did they get into them? This cave was more interesting.

Third cave. Most interesting. It was a hospital for the Northern Vietnamese. Again, how did they get the injured to the top. The entrances were bolted shut to keep it intruders and probably light.

The view
Look closely at the third patient
Supposed to be Green Valley, today Green Lake


Accomplished a Bucket/Lust list item today! Somewhere I read that one should endeavor to mindfully walk around Hoan Kiem lake. It is in the center of Hanoi. Julie and I talked about it and we talked about being Mind-full vs Mindless. We decided that we would each go in the opposite direction around the lake. One of us would be Mind-full and the other Mindless and at the midpoint we would high-five and switch. There happens to be a Marathon today! Being mind-full to me meant observing with all 5 senses, and Mindless meant trying to keep any thoughts out of my head. It was interesting.

Entrance to the Island
Pagoda in the center
Fond du Lac
Island in the center

Now we are at a cute coffee shop called The Note Coffee. There are sticky notes everywhere and you get a message on your coffee and leave messages

Cat Ba and onto Hanoi

Last night was a fancy hotel for us! Luxurious but hard to find food. We had drinks on the the Sky Bar which now we realize is the term for roof top. Had a Monkey Island Drink to go with my Monkey bite. I am annoying the hell out of Julie with referring to my Monkey Bite in every sentence just like I annoyed the hell out of Natalie when I was hit by a car this year. Not injured, it was in a parking lot. I still think she should have sent me flowers or wine.

The view

Trying to update the pics

Have we mentioned Karaoke. OMG. They love it here. There was a big group of Vietnamese at Monkey resort. In the evening at low tide, many men were collecting mussels and clams and oysters and wheels and cockles etc. At dinner one man brought us some of the seafood that had been boiled an a broth. He gave us a needle like thing or a thorn from a branch to pick out the meat. Some good, some impossible to eat. Very nice of him. So the signing began. It’s was horrible! Like a cat in heat! It went on well into the night.

Garlic sauce but he took that away and gave us a different sauce!
Rickety gazebo
The view
The path
Still usable