Hard seat, slow train
05/20/2008 - 05/22/2008
We decided to take the "soft seat, fast train" from Danang to Hue. The seats were definitely NOT soft, and the train was definitely NOT fast. We were the only Westerners on the train. In addition to drink service, the food cart consisted of a large pot of boiling water with hard boiled eggs. A couple of guys also walked up and down the aisles hocking what appeared to be pieces of dried fish.
The scenery was very nice, even though it rained most of the way. The route passed along the coast by China beach and through the Marble Mountains. We also passed a multitude of small farms and villages along the way. Life is very hard for the average Vietnamese citizen. On average, they only earn about $100 a month.
The city of Hue is the ancient capital of Vietnam. It sits along the Perfume River and is actually much larger than we anticipated. We visited the Citadel and Forbidden Purple City, which consists of palaces, temples, and homes used by past Emperors and Queens. The temples are very ornate, with lush flower gardens and lily ponds scattered throughout the grounds. The entire compound is enclosed by high walls and a moat.
We've met a number of other interesting travelers along the way. We shared a taxi ride with two American college students who had been traveling in Myanmar when the cyclone hit...they described spending all of their money in order to escape the country during the aftermath. We also met an Australian Vietnam veteran who is re-visiting the places where he was stationed during the war.
Our next stop is Hanoi, and then we're moving on to Thailand and Cambodia.
Steve & Ann