As mentioned before we had taken the train to our resort vacation. I really feel the whole train experience needs it’s own post.
On a very early and warm morning we meet with the other family and booked two taxis for our trip to the Saigon train station. As we were driving I was wondering what to expect at the train station. Would it be like Toronto’s union station or something similar. Then I got pulled out of that thought as I started to see the how the city wakes up. The streets were filled with scooters and cars racing by. The shops were already open and the first customers were seated and enjoying their morning pho with ice coffee. Smaller cart vendors were selling French bread, sticky rice, and various other dishes that I could not make out. We drove by a city park that had an oval type track on the outer edge of the park. The cool part was the park was walled as well. People were already walking or running around the track, getting their morning workout.
When we arrived to the station it was busy with the rush of people needed to travel somewhere. As we pulled up we were directed to a placed to park by these gentlemen that acted like air traffic controls. We departed our taxis in our panic rush, as other taxes with passengers were trying to pull in as well. The overall station was not the grand station I was expecting. It was a long narrow building with the two stories. The locals vendors were selling their various dishes as well.
We managed to get our bags out and out of the oncoming flood of taxis. Caroline and the boys moved up the side walk and I went to see if I could lend a hand with our friends exiting their taxis. When we got to the side walk Caroline and the boys were surrounded by the locals. Caroline and the boys blond locks were causing quote a stir. I know my receding and grey flecks hair was not having the same reaction ( I am not ready to say that I have grey hair yet).
For 6:30 am the station was loud and packed. The press of people shuffling by was astounding for such an early morning. After a bit of time we headed to the platform to find and board our train. It was really strange how most of the staff knew what train we were on with out looking at our tickets. What was giving us away, oh yea we were going to a beach resort town that most western people go to.
At the train we got the kids and the moms on board. Then we struggled to get our oversized luggage onto the train and stowed somewhere safe. I was on the platform for a few minutes watching our remaining stuff, hoping that the train would not pull away with my family aboard. That did not happen and I did manage to get on aboard with all our stuff. We sat down in our seats and waited for the train to go. At this time we attempted to feed Sophie and try to get her to nap. Poor girl had other plans and napping was not on her list. Well at least after another hour of riding before she finally fell asleep.
The distance to our beach resort is only 80 km away and back home that is easily done by car in about 90 mins. By train it takes an avg 4.5 hrs. The train ride passes by some very lush juggles and wooded area. But you have to pass through some densely populated areas first. Small shanty town homes on the fringes of the big cities. With some of these structures built close to the tracks.
Once we past Saigon and the surrounding towns we were into some lush juggle area intermixed with farms. They use every piece of available land for their farms, even the side of mountains. At one point we riding past an area that recommended Caroline and I of a sugar bush. Trees tapped and pails collecting sap. We discovered later that they were collecting sap from rubber trees. Near our stop we started to notice these strange and small trees. They were growing dragon fruit, our resort always had some laid out during breakfast (they were yummy).
Our return journey was basically the same except that we had managed to upgrade our seats. We also discovered that sometimes having the seat number does not guarantee you will have that seat. Another family had taken over quad of seats that we had tickets for. But they quickly changed their seats when Caroline and Sophie arrived. The family beside us were quite nice during our journey and they shared some of their food with us during our train ride. The boys managed to make friends with a cute vietnamese girl. She came by to visit often and share her snacks. The boys in turn shared some of their snacks with her.