Because we loved our Hotel in Hue so much we let them book our tickets to Hanoi, (easy right). Except; the train company had double booked our room, it made for a very unpleasant start to the trip. We thought we would book with a nice soft sleeper and just relax, that just didn’t happen. We got on and not to our surprise there were people in our room. We called the cabin staff to show him our tickets and to sort out a room for us. We had been talking to a lovely couple from the UK that were on a holiday and who had booked a whole cabin. They offered for us to use two of the beds in their room which was so nice of them. We would have taken them up on the offer if the company would refund the amount of the bed to the couple but the guys on the train didn’t speak a word of english. It was making it hard to get our point across to them, they started saying crazy thing like they are going to move us to a lower
class cabin. We wouldn’t mind this, BUT once again we tried telling them they would have to give us some money back if we were to move. Duane had a bright idea to call the hotel that had booked our tickets, (Holiday Diamond Hotel) because they had such good english, they might be able to translate for us. This didn’t work at all. So we just stood our grounds and waited in a room that had no one in it yet. The conductor come around and gave us new tickets and told us we were in our room and the other people would be moved, well he told us this in so many words. So we put our bags away and got ready for the long trip ahead.
The train stopped a few times and we counted about 9 people who tried to come into our room, it didn’t make much sence since it only had four beds in it to start with.
After a while the thirst for a beer was becoming more and more so I headed off to the food cart to fetch the golden ale that has so often made so many bad situations better. After getting around five beers (and claiming to Kim I had to buy so many because they had no change) we sat on the bottom bunk just talking and chilling out. The couple that had offered their beds to us were next door so we headed over to chat and have a beer to say thanks, then off to bed we went.
Hopping off the train bleary eyed and looking for our ride, which was nowhere to be seen. We walked around like lost lambs getting drilled by taxi drivers to take us to our hotel. We walked around for 30 minutes looking for the driver that the hotel was meant to send to pick us up. We were about to get our own taxi when down by the road there was a guy with a small as sign with our names on it – YES! Here you are!
In the car we got at 5am ready for a soft bed for a few hours sleep before hitting Hanoi.
After a few hours sleep and a feed we headed out to find out just what Hanoi had to offer. So, what did we find? We found ourselves walking around the lake and thinking about walking across the bridge to some big turtle or something, but we decided to just keep walking as it didn’t look or sound too exciting to us.
We walked to the train station to book our ticket to Sapa. “Two tickets to Sapa please”. (Ticket Lady) “Passports”. Unbeknown to us you need your passports to book train tickets, we could have gotten away without them if Duane had of known his Passport number, but he doesn’t so off we go back to the hostel to get our passports and to return to buy our tickets.
The next day we set off in the morning to get our Chinese visa, now everything we have read about the Chinese visa makes it sound like it’s near impossible to get, so when we set off to get a double entry visa in one day we didn’t have our hopes up. We needed to get it in one day because we were off to Sapa and needed our passports, and when we got back we were off the Halong Bay and we didn’t want to sit around Hanoi for the standard four days processing time. We walked in with our paperwork and filled out the forms they had for us and within 20 minutes we walked out and we were told if they call our hotel there was a problem. For the rest of the day we walked to the Ho Chi Minh Museum but when we got there the line up was out of this world. We had never seen such a big line so we just kept on walking. We returned ti our hoel and they had not received a call …. As they say “No News Is Good News”
The next day we went to the embassy and they gave us a slip to take to their bank which was a 50,000 Dong cab ride one way. The visa cost us $150 USD, for two double entry visas express. back to the embassy and handed over the slip that had a big PAID stamp on it. We walked out of the China embassy with our visas and we couldn’t be leave how easy it was. We treated ourselves to the best indian meal in Hanoi that night before we had to head off to Sapa.
Travel Tip: When applying for your Chinese visa make sure you have all the right paper work.
- Flight or ticket out of China.
- Basic itinerary – First stop and a step by step rough guide as to where you are going.
- Photocopy of passport and Vietnam visa. (if leaving from Vietnam).
- Us USD to pay for visa or there will be a extra fee.