Let's welcome on August 15 :).
In the lunar calendar we have the beginning of July…. The first week of the new lunar month is just past, and with it the end of interesting phenomena in the sky. New moon last Saturday, moon-Venus conjunction on Wednesday, and the Perseid swarm on Thursday.
It is also the time of holiday migration. Some are coming back, others are yet to go ...
As for me, this is the end of holidays in Europe. Everyone is slowly returning to normal. It is true that the French, Spaniards and Italians have their peak holidays in August and the first week of September, but the summer is slowly coming to an end.
And when it comes to travel, the train is a very common means of transport in the world.
And today it will be a bit about rail travel, but in a slightly different perspective.
I invite you to the famous railway street in Hà nội - "Train Street".
Traveling by rail in Asia is an extremely varied experience.
On the one hand, we have Japanese Shinkasen or Chinese CRTs - 21st century high-speed railways. Fast, convenient, safe and relatively affordable. Let's add the subway - model ones in Tokyo, Singapore, Shanghai and decent ones in Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. On the other hand, we have slow but picturesque railways in Việt Nam, Laos, Cambodia or, a bit faster, in Indonesia or India.
If you remember from the article about Bali, the railway has not even been built there yet, although it has been talked about for decades. In the article about the trip from New Delhi to Ludhiana you have the opportunity to get to know my opinion about railways in India. I invite you to read.
Every journey begins with a small, first step.
Today I invite you to the "threshold" of the journey - the first or the last one, depending on the direction of travel, kilometers before / after the Main Railway Station in Hà nội. This charming place is called the "train street".
This is a famous street that runs through the old part of the city, the so-called Old Quarter. Although from the point of view of urban planning, it is not a street. This track is built up with houses on both sides.
It is part of the railway line from the north of Việt Nam, via Hà nội to Ho Chi Minh City. A line that is over 2,000 kilometers long. Traveling along this trail is generally a very extreme experience. Due to the terrain, the trains are very slow. Electric traction does not exist and a train of 30 cars has to pass through several mountain ranges. Picturesque mountain passes, numerous tunnels and unforgettable views accompany passengers throughout the journey.
The only drawback of this trip is its duration - almost 3 days. Nevertheless, it is a very interesting experience. The "railway street" is a tourist attraction both for visitors and passengers of the train.
I went to the "railway street" in the company of Vietnamese siblings - a student of the local university and a high school student.
This is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to explore and explore the city. It's a very nice time, which in fact costs very little - such a joint trip works on a voluntary basis and it depends on us how we reward our guides. After consulting the hotel, it turned out that $ 20 for an entire afternoon is a fair reward. Of course, you can just say thank you, and suggest a meal and drinks. However, I am convinced that these few hours of joint stay, listening to stories about the city and its curiosities, and being professionally guided through the hidden attractions of the city, such as the oldest house in Ha nội, is worth the $25. By the way, we can help young Vietnamese learn English.
In any case, I think that $25 is not an exorbitant price for a few hours' walk around the city. Having agreed on the salary, we went to the part of the old town through which the north-south railway line runs.
And from the very beginning, I noticed the advantage of exploring the city together with local people.
Our guides knew exactly what times the trains pass through the track between the houses. After all, they do not run all the time. All the more, I recommend this form of sightseeing.
We go to the "railway street" from the area of Hoàn Kiếm Lake. Yes, this is the lake in the center of the old Hà nội that I wrote about in the article about the legendary turtle.
We walk along the narrow streets of the Old Quarter towards the west.
We pass one street, one another and reach the railway gate, which is also the beginning of the most interesting part of the train street.
What a sight…. this "street" is really narrow!
The railroad track that runs through its center has no pavement, so we just have to walk along the track or on its outskirts. Anyone who had grandparents in the countryside with a railway line in their childhood knows what it looks like.
The view is amazing.
In fact, you can see that this place was arranged by local residents to attract tourists and at the same time make money on them. What do we have here?
There are dense buildings on both sides of the track. Quite high on one side, low on the other. All the buildings are full of cafes, restaurants and bars. In front of them are a few small tables and chairs, so typical of Việt Nam.
Note - these plastic high chairs are manufactured to support a weight of around 75 kg. If you weigh more, be careful. It's easy to tip over - the legs just can't stand it. The sight of a tourist flying on his back always evokes laughter. The best way is to just use two of these stools by putting them on top of each other and then it will hold up somehow.
The owners of all bars and restaurants have a train timetable on the menu card, so you can easily do it if you came alone, without the support of, for example, students. It is worth making sure at the hotel what times these trains run and arrange the sightseeing in such a way that you will reach the railway street 30 minutes early.
The track is available between train runs. It is closed while the trains slide along the tracks. These 30 minutes are needed to find a convenient place for observation.
It is worth finding a very good balcony place. You can see much more from above and it is much safer.
In addition, if you stay a bit longer, you can see the passage of even two trains while enjoying a local beer, mango juice or coffee. For example, Egg Coffee, which is very popular in the north of Việt Nam, is simply a coffee with a sweet raw eggs. I accepted the invitation of one of the ladies, who offers seven seats on a balcony, simple local dishes, and a service of cooling drinks and coffee.
Just watching the "street", how many people come and walk here, taking pictures of themselves, makes a huge impression.
You can also talk to local people at any time. Surprisingly, for Hà nội, they speak English quite correctly, so it's easy to communicate and make a short report while on this "street".
Of course, the main attraction is simply the train ride.
As long as the train is not coming, you can walk along the entire track, it will not take more than 15 minutes. The section, which is made available and arranged for tourists, is about 700 m long.
The action starts when the train is approaching ...
When the train is approaching, at the railway arrival from which we started our walk around the track, it is closed and the track is open to the train.
At the same time, the railway services begin to announce the oncoming train by means of sound signals with a whistle. The action begins.
This is a clear signal for all tourists walking along the track, but also, and perhaps above all, for bar and restaurant owners to remove tables, chairs and awnings if they are still in place. The distance between the arriving train and the walls of the houses is really small. In some places it is less than 1m. Everyone has to hide inside a bar or restaurant like a hollow. As there are usually no front walls - the view remains absolutely fantastic. There are many places, so all tourists find shelter when the train arrives.
The action of "rolling up" the tables is impressive - in 10 minutes there is no trace of the bar gardens.
A train pulled by a huge diesel locomotive passes quite fast. It is not a dizzying speed, but it is so high that you really have to be careful not to get hit if you lean out of the restaurant too much. Fortunately, the owners know their responsibilities. They really take great care to protect all their guests from any collision with a train.
The train ride attraction lasts approximately one and a half minutes. I encourage you to stay longer because there are times during the day when trains arrive two or even three times an hour.
If you would like to enjoy the view of the arriving train, make a few films or catch an interesting shot in a photo, stay in such a bar a little longer. What's more, it will be met with great joy from the owner of the bar or restaurant :).
The view is amazing. The train that glides between the houses is really impressive.
It begins to appear slowly, emerging along the curve of the track. The whistles of railwaymen and the shouts of bar staff create a somewhat threatening atmosphere. A huge diesel locomotive is slowly gliding towards us. Beeps, smoke from the exhaust pipe and the metallic sound of wheels rubbing against the rails complete the picture as if from a horror movie.
The entire train set usually consists of about 30 wagons, including postal wagons, supply wagons and a wagon that produces electricity for the entire train. In Việt Nam, it is hot all year round. The train is air-conditioned for which it needs electricity. Hence the electricity generator in a special car that encloses the entire train.
After the train arrives, tourists leave the bars and restaurants on the track, taking the last photos, and the restaurant owners set their business on the border of the track, arranging tables, chairs and unfolding awnings. A moment for business, before the next train ride.
The whole attraction is worth a 15-minute walk from the center of old Hà nội, from the vicinity of Hoàn Kiếm Lake and spend at least an hour observing life in this unique place. The pleasure of savoring great drinks, coffee with "kogel mogel" or desserts served by restaurateurs will complete the positive impressions.
I am convinced that it is good to know that there is such a "street" in Hà nội.
After all, it is so attractive and famous that thousands of tourists enter it on the list of TOP 10 places to visit in the capital of Việt Nam.
I encourage you to walk to the "train street" to experience the thrill of the last summer vacation.
The train rides from a distance, it is waiting for no one,
gracious conductor, take us to ... Hà nội :).