So when we finally got on the train, 9:50, we found a very upset French Canadian woman and her husband in our compartment. They were sharing our four bunks…no bathroom, no space! It was her birthday, she had had a party at a restaurant, she had orchids, a cake, but no private room. Poor thing, but she recovered quickly and was very funny about the whole thing. We got along famously. They were the same age, non smokers, world travelers, parents of daughters, and generally wonderful sports. The “toilet” such as it was…was broken in our car and when Nicole and I finally were forced to go, we had a good laugh over the fact that we could not fit our knees in front of the toilet bowl. Try peeing half standing, in water with your knees jammed into the wall and the train lurching side to side, bucking front to back. We only went once.
The night was interesting, noises from the hall, people talking, laughing, shouting, eating, playing cards on the floor of the narrow hallway. Doors slamming, lights flashing. In spite of all that, Tom and I managed to sleep. They ‘woke’ us up at 5:30, we rolled off the train still in our same clothes, clutching our bags, dirty, tired, hungry and unsure of what was to come.
At the entrance to the station were found our names on a placard “Bernard Hanley” close enough. Another party of 20 were loaded into another cramped minivan and driven up a mountain for 45 minutes in the rain. When we finally stopped Ina cute little town, Sapa, I spotted a huge vertical staircase and joked that with our luck our hotel would be up there! Sure enough…we stumbled up the stairs into a cute little hotel. They gave us breakfast vouchers and then we met our guides and took a day hike into the mountains in the rain to see the tribes and villages. Remember we were still in the clothes from the day before, no bath, but what the heck, the tour must go on.
The tribal people were fun women (pictures) and we saw a lot even in the rain. We finally had showers and I sat down to write this…whew.