Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Reunification Express

The railway that runs from the north to the south of Vietnam is also known as "The Reunification Express". The total length runs 1,726 km. The railway also holds the dubious distinction of having the slowest trains on a major railway.

We took the overnight train from Hanoi to Hue, the former Imperial capital in central Vietnam. After being stuck in torrential downpours in Hanoi, we were excited to move farther south to a smaller, more relaxed town.

From K - Hanoi and Hue



After boarding the train, we had no idea how long the journey would take. Our ticket had the departure time (7:30pm), but no other information besides the number of our sleeper car.

From K - Hanoi and Hue


There were four bunk beds in the car, and we fortunately shared it with a nice Dutch couple (I can only imagine how long the ride would have seemed if we had to share our car with small children).

From K - Hanoi and Hue


No one else seemed to know how long the trip would take. I woke up around 6am and realized I had nothing to do besides shift around in our miniature train car that strongly resembled a prison cell, and read my Kindle.

From K - Hanoi and Hue


From K - Hanoi and Hue


I haven't mentioned it yet, but the Kindle has been invaluable to my trip. Before leaving, I loaded it with 150 books that I've been meaning to read. All the downtime we we have while traveling adds up - I've been able to finish 12 books so far.

However, a severe catastrophe occurred during the slow boat from Thailand to Laos. Sometime during the 8-hour trip, I realized my Kindle had become wedged in the seat. And I was sitting on it. Despite its protective case, my weight apparently was too much for Kindle to handle. Half the screen went blank! I was stuck on the slow boat with nothing to read. Not only that, but I was headed to Laos, one of the 20 poorest countries in the world. I was not optimistic about being able to replace my Kindle.

From K - Hanoi and Hue


Fortunately, after some interesting e-mail exchanges and one long Skype call to Amazon's customer service, I was able to secure a solution. After I told Amazon about the mysterious broken screen, they told me I could have a replacement sent to Vietnam, since it was still under warranty.

I arranged to have it shipped to a hotel in Hanoi, since we were flying to Hanoi after visiting Laos. I had to pay $20 in international priority shipping, and $30 in duty taxes. But a brand-new Kindle is now in my possession:

From K - Hanoi and Hue


From K - Hanoi and Hue



Best purchase ever - it even made the long ride on the Reunification Express tolerable. And the train ride was well worth it, since it brought us to the beautiful city of Hue - more pictures to come.

From K - Hanoi and Hue


From K - Hanoi and Hue

No comments:

Post a Comment