14 Jun Night train to Da Nang
It’s our third trip to the Nha Trang train station. The first time was two days ago to enquire about a train schedule to Da Nang. Supposedly, it is only possible to take the bikes on the night train to Da Nang, which is fine by us. Unfortunately, all the berths are already booked up for an entire month in advance, so we have to take the pull seats, which is fine, too– we’ve slept in worse places before.
Because bicycles will actually be checked in through the postal service as cargo, we have to go next door to the main train station to find out how much the fare for the bikes will be.
While we wait our turn, we watch all kinds of things getting boxed up. There are dozens of scooters in crates, scooter parts, huge bags of rice and other dry goods, suitcases, and what have you scattered in front of the building waiting to get shipped.
Finally it is our turn. After telling the lady what we want, she’s not sure about the price, makes a phone call and looks at a couple of papers on her desk. Then she gives us a price and tells us to return the following afternoon to actually buy the tickets and to have our bikes packed, though our train will not be leaving until the following evening.
Although, we do not feel very comfortable with the idea of leaving our bikes overnight at the station, we return in the afternoon of the second day.
This time, we are helped by another lady. She is not sure, what the first Lady was talking about and tells us that we do not have to bring our bikes until the afternoon of the day, we are actually going to be on the train. She also quotes us for a much nicer price. Since we were wondering how to haul all of our gear here without the bikes, this works out much better for us anyway. This would allow us to just check out of our room, load everything on the bike like usually and ride over to the station.
…and so we return on the third day.
Again, there is a different lady working the check in desk and again we are quoted a different price…go figure.
At least this time, we are here at the correct time.
We unload our bikes, fill out some paperwork and park the bikes to get checked in. Then we look for our chincy, but very handy travel bags and fill them up with all of our gear. After some rearranging and prying, we finally fit it all in. But as soon as we try to move the heavily loaded bags, the handles broke on one and the zipper on the other.
Looks like it is time to get new bags. Since Jessica just bought herself a bag the day before, we at least already know where we could find some more. So Ron and I hustle about a mile through town to get to the store and back.
After repacking everything, we sit and wait, eat another egg and mystery-meat baguette from a street vendor and people-watch.
At times, we check on our bikes, which are standing off to the side, behind several scooter crates by the cargo area and hope they won’t be forgotten to get loaded.
We also wonder occasionally, whether there will actually be room for our huge bags in the seating car.
Eventually, our train arrives. As Murphy’s Law has it, our car is the furthest away and we haul our our heavy, big bags over the first set of tracks to our train, where a conductor checks our tickets and gives our oversized bags a funny look.
Once on the train, we quickly figure out what the look was for. There is hardly any overhead space by our seats and no luggage space to be found anywhere. We try our best to not stand in anybody’s way while pulling panniers and camping gear out of the big bag to distribute items all over the overhead shelves. But it’s obvious, that it is going to be a fruitless task and we pretty much give up on that idea. Under the watchful eyes of other curious passengers, Ron finds a conductor and asks, where we could put our stuff. Apparently, we were supposed to check our big bags in with the bikes…well, that did not happen.
So now we are stuck with them and the only other option is to store them in the conductor’s bathroom–for a small fee of course.
Now, that everything is stowed away and we are back in our seats, we get to spend another long night on a train.
Sleep does not come easy on a train in SE Asia. Especially, when stuck in the pull-seats in second class.
People come and go. Some fall asleep with their feet up on tables or on other people’s armrests…personal space is pretty much non-existent. But for the most part everybody is trying their best to be quiet.
Tired and groggy, we finally arrive in Da Nang.