Thursday, 10 December 2015

Travelling the Đèo Hải Vân, the Ocean Cloud Pass (or Hue to Da Nang by day train)

At first I was thinking of travelling the 2.5 hours from Hue to Da Nang in the evening.  But then I read that it's a world-class scenic railway section.  

 Must NOT travel those in the dark.  

So I extended my stay in Hue for a night and booked an early daytime train.

Since my taste buds are agreeing with the Vietnamese food a bit too well, I decide to walk the 1.6 km to the train station. Good thing I mailed the Sa Pa stuff yesterday ;-)

The way to the train station naturally leads past my favourite Vietnamese female sculpture

All of a sudden I start humming a VERY FAMOUS TUNE.

Unter der Laterne...
bei dem grossen Tor ...

wie einst Lili Marlen ...
Red coat, fishnets, HEELS and she's  even standing under the lantern ;-)
Is it a coincidence, I wonder, that she stands close  to  the following sculpture?

Off guard

The train is more than 20 minutes late, so I have some time to pace around the ga

 Then I see a familiar flower on the ground and instantly look up.  No wonder I like it here so much. So far every country that is home to the Plumeria has made it onto my favourite list ;-) 

for the departed

When I enter the compartment, I am a little disappointed.  An aisle seat travelling backwards and on the wrong side of the train no less. All the scenery and the ocean will pass along the windows on the other side.  Ah well. It's only a 2.5 hour ride and I can spend it at a wash table window if I can find one ;-) 

Vietnamese RailTV shows a be-nice-to-your-gay-friends-they-are-human-too-themed comedy.  Impressed I am. 

There are quite a few Viet  Army grunts on the train and they do what 18-year-olds do best.  They talk and text on their phones.,

Then I see my first glimpse of OCEAN out of the windows.  I explore and find a tiny window open in a door at the end of the car.  Goody, I'll be able to take some mediocre pictures out of a moving train window ;-)

It's on one of those trips that my Canadian cell phone starts re-booting again and again.  I'ts been on the Fritz for quite a long time, but now is not really a good time to die.  Me being me, I never backed up my contacts onto the chip and consequently they might be lost now.
So, if you don't hear from me, it's not malevolent intentions !

The view out of the window tears my attention from my misbehaving cell phone.  OMG !
Why are the food-serving carts in the aisle NOW?  I patiently wait until the first moves and then hint to the woman steering the 3rd cart that is blocking my exit that she now has space to move.  She smiles at me with that serene Viet smile and moves on. I run to my open window at the end of the car and snap away for what seems like 10 minutes.

I'm at the end of the car already, and that's where those rubber thingies are supposed to keep the connecting walk between cars tightly enclosed.  

"Supposed to" is the right expression:

I force open the corresponding window of the other car a few steps away and while I still hear the start-up noise of the buggered up cell phone in my backpack once every minute, I snap away as fast as I can. I can see Da Nang in the distance.  Then my camera displays an empty battery symbol in the view finder.  Oh WTF????

Is this a bad electronics day or what???

I head back to my seat and plug the camera into my Ultrabook. Let's hope the laptop's battery has enough capacity to charge the camera for at least a few good shots when I get to Ga Da Nang!  Let's hope the camera battery hasn't reached the end of its useful life. On the other hand, electronics stores are overabundant in Vietnam; finding a new replacement battery would be no problem.

Cameraless I see Da Nang approaching. A part with menacing highrises on the far left of the bay (seen from the ocean-side) while my hotel should be closer to Monkey Mountain on the right. No highrises in that area fortunately.

my first  glimpse of Da Nang

Out the window I can already see that the rocky coastline, which was quite rough-looking during the last few hours, now has given way to a long line of golden-yellow beaches.  LIKE!

Note the shadow on the right of the bottom window
During a brief visit to the loo, I notice something absurd. There is someone hanging on to the train on the OUTSIDE !!!  Good thing I charged the camera  ;-)

11:55.  The train has reached  Da Nang
Ga Da Nang

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