Train Tracks through the Middle of Hanoi
After a long day of sightseeing, our feet started to ache and our legs were tired. Realising that we could catch the train running through central Hanoi at 15:20 we walked towards the narrow part of the tracks that we had discovered earlier that day, also called “train alley”. Jerome has always been a massive train lover and we always enjoyed train spotting wherever we go on a trip abroad. The boys went to find some cool drinks, while I strolled along the tracks to find the best spot to stand for the trains passing. People still sat on the tracks with their plastic chairs, enjoying a cha among neighbours and friends. The doors to some of the houses were open and I got glimpses of their modest life. Kids were watching TV, an old lady was hanging her washing outside and one woman was mopping the floor. There were other tourists, some with guides and all had their cameras and phones ready for action.
Train Spotting at Train Alley
Suddenly I could hear a whistle and saw the lights of the train appear in the distance. The thick diesel fumes gathered on top, between the narrow gorge of the houses. It approached much faster than expected and we all squeezed ourselves onto the house walls. I could feel the wind blowing through my hair and taking photos of the train close up, was much harder than I had anticipated. There was no chance any of us could see into the carriages, the windows were to high and no one was looking out, as they were all closed shut. Then, as soon as it had appeared it was gone, into the distance, bound for Sapa. The boys were still gone and I was at that moment sad they had probably missed the spectacle. Further on I could see the barriers at the level crossing rise and suddenly the space filled with hundreds of mopeds and motorbikes heading in all directions. Walking back towards our agreed meeting point I waited for quite a while, thinking they might have been lost.
Relaxing Tea at Cafe Xofa
Eventually they turned up and told me that they watched the train pass at the next crossing but failed to find some cool drinks for us. However, they had seen a lovely little café, called Xofa, in a side street and that’s where we went to have a chance to relax, rest our feet and drink some cold ice tea.
Return to Our Hotel
Jerome had been overjoyed by train alley and the passing express, however we were too tired to walk back to our hotel and hailed a taxi – always make sure the driver resets the meter, many tourists have complained about being ripped off by taxis in Vietnam – and soon we returned to Hotel Lapis. There we spent the evening by the rooftop pool, until the daily rain showers started. Dinner was a quick affair at the restaurant, Nha Hang Ngon, opposite with an outdoor courtyard. What an exciting first day in Hanoi, and there were many more adventures to be had during our three weeks in Vietnam.
Our favourite Hotels in Vietnam:
Stay in a traditional colonial building near the Old Quarter welcoming guests since 1901. The heated pool is the perfect place to rest your tired legs after exploring the city.
Lapis Hotel offers exceptional value and amazing views from its rooftop pool over Hanoi. Don’t miss the delicious breakfast.
Set among verdant jungle, the resort offers a tranquil spot to stay away from the bustling streets of Hue.
Incredible views of the Perfume River and its central location make the Azerai the perfect place to stay and explore the nearby Imperial City.
Treat yourself to an overwater villa at this serene resort near Hue and be pampered in their excellent spa. Take the complimentary bikes to explore the nearby fishing villages and beaches.
Enjoy the cool architecture of this boutique hotel and explore the historical town and its sights, all within walking distance.
Fancy a more intimate setting then you should consider a stay at this beautiful villa near Hoi An’s night market.