After boarding the train at the Hanoi Train Station, Kristi and I located our cabin inside the train car. Each cabin has four sleepers. When we booked the trip, we were faced with decision whether to follow the recommendation to purchase all four seats in a cabin (for privacy, security, and comfort reasons), or only purchase the two spots that we needed. In the end Kristi and I decided to get only two spots, and we would share the cabin with whoever other passengers who take the other two sleepers. It might be a bit ‘risky’ but we thought we would face the risk while traveling anyway.
When we found our cabin, the first thing we noticed was how small it was. there were four sleepers, two on each side, and they were designed for the local standard size (i.e., pretty short). For Kristi, it wasn’t a problem since she’s pretty small in posture. For me, it’s just about to fit. If anyone 6 ft or taller travels in this cabin, it would be very difficult to travel on the top sleeper. Even if you take the bottom sleeper, a tall person would probably need to sleep with his/her feet on the ground. Adding the constraint of the small cabin space was the space for luggages. You can slide the luggage under the bottom sleepers, but the space was barely enough for luggages from two people. Both Kristi and I each had a backpack. That we had to keep with us on our sleeper. I used it as extra head rest next to my pillow. Other than that, it was a clean cabin with pillows and blankets provided.
Not long after we settled in our cabin, the other two passengers in our cabin arrived. They were a couple from Montreal, Canada, named George and Gol who like us were in the middle of exploring Northern Vietnam. We had a fun conversation talking about our trips so far. George said their trip didn’t start well as they got stranded in Hong Kong for an extra day because their United Airlines connecting flight got canceled and they had to spend almost a whole day at the airport waiting for the next flight to Hanoi. After making it to Vietnam, the first part of their trip was to go to Ha Long Bay for a cruise, and they said they really liked it. They’re planning on spending some time in Hanoi when they get back from Sapa. So it was a little bit in reverse compared to our itinerary — we spent time in Hanoi, then Sapa, then Ha Long Bay. It was great though to hear that the next destination for both our parties were going to be good.
As it got closer to midnight, everyone was ready to get some rest and sleep for a few hours. We had the light turned off and not long after I heard George started snoring a little bit and I could tell Gol and Kristi were already asleep as well. Somehow I had difficult time sleeping, so I ended watching a movie that brought in my netbook and I wanted to watch before the trip to Cambodia, but never had a chance to… The Killing Fields. So there it was, I spent the next three hours or so watching this movie about the Khmer Rouge atrocity in Cambodia. Since we visited the Tuol Sleng Prison and the Choeung Ek Killing Field while in Phnom Penh, I had a better idea of what had happened in real life, and made me appreciate how well the movie was done to reflect what really happened in Cambodia. Eventually after finishing the movie, I got tired enough and could finally fall asleep.
The photo below was taken from outside the cabin looking in. You could see me in the middle of cabin in between the sleepers. I might look big here, but it’s actually the cabin that was small. For size comparison, you could also see my backpack on the top sleeper and Kristi’s bag on the bottom sleeper. I ended up taking the top left sleeper.