|Planes, Trains, Automobiles – in Vietnam It's No Contest, Take The Low Cost Carrier Every Time.|
By Martin Kelly
Sunday, 16th February 2014
Local colour, as depicted by tourist brochures and guides, can often be over-rated in the same way that memories of trips past, especially those taken as a backpacker become, well, better than they actually were, especially when there are modern alternatives available.
In this instance I'm talking about local train travel up against the new wave of low cost carriers, which did not exist when I travelled around SE Asia in my 20s.
Corridor to nowhere
However, so that our teenage children could experience the so-called real Vietnam, we took the overnight train from Hanoi, Vietnam, to Da Nang on Friday .
The eldest was sceptical, the youngest blase while my wife went along for the ride. We paid a fare of AUD 228 for a four-berth soft sleeper.
Romantic notions of our journey disappeared on arrival at Hanoi's main train station, which is small, old and chaotic.
Hard seats to wait on, no left luggage, cafe or restaurant.
This was surprising given that Hanoi's public buildings, mostly built by the French colonialists, or "invaders" as they are described in local museums, are generally grand in the European style.