In my opinion, books are the best accessory.
This “Asia Adventure” post will follow my family’s journey as we traveled from Hong Kong to Guangzhou, China to Nanning, China to Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Malaysia over two weeks. We had many things to do to prepare for this journey. First we needed all the night train tickets, hotel rooms, and more booked. Thank goodness my husband’s organized and prepared this for us. Then we needed to get our visa’s preapproved in a few places such as Cambodia, China, and Vietnam. We agreed that it would be fun to try out night train adventures in addition to riding ferries, taxis, tuk tuks, buses, and more… Not everything was planned out and we did have to change some plans due to delays, etc. but overall we really enjoyed this adventure!
After debating, we decided that each of us having a slightly lighter backpack and bringing along two rolling suitcases would help us successfully survive our journey from Hong Kong through different areas of Asia. Some might not have a wonderful patient husband who is willing to carry both rolling suitcases up and down stairs, beware… there are stairs everywhere from train stations to hotels to more… Often hotels we stayed in had no elevator and we had to walk up three to five flights, quite fun but a little exhausting other times.
So we began our journey by riding a train to Guangzhou and then walking ourselves through the subway lines to get to the night train starting location, a little far off from the other train station.
Then we got on a train to Nanning, China.
Bring a night light reader – future night train plan, whoops. There often is a little light for you to read by, not always though.
Pull out clothes for the early morning wake up – you don’t want to struggle with suitcases and clothes when rushing.
No toilets whenever the train stops – important to note, sometimes it is hard to tell when the train is coming to a station…
Restaurant – guy to order, no translated menu- unless you have a guess about what you are getting, good luck – a little awkward because we were ignored most of the time and didn’t have luck finding English speakers at first. Fortunately someone understood the word chicken eventually.
Exit off the train doesn’t include toilet so pee when train lady knocks first time or hold it!
Out 30 minutes early into Nanning, 4:30am, yikes! I need a toilet! (Took us 30 minutes to locate a hotel that allowed me to use a toilet…) Tough for family to locate place to stay, our solution? McDonalds and hostel for day…
Get tickets for night train or stay in hostel for night…
We stayed in the Greenforest Hostel which was quite nice. Also very reasonably priced, interesting food selections, and had a welcoming, cosy atmosphere… We wandered a few blocks down from the Hostel and enjoyed many random shops and then also an open market. It was packed with food stands!
Sadly for us, no choice but to stay at the hostel since there was no space on the night train. So we missed visiting Hanoi for long time and instead were stuck on a bus for around eight hours. It all worked out and we settled into our next destination but this wasn’t the only thing to not quite go as planned…
The bus did stop every 1-2 hours but wasn’t fantastic. We did appreciate toilet breaks.
Since we were stuck in Nanning overnight, we decided to visit the hot springs, not as amazing as Mayland Resort in Guangzhou, but lovely to visit different relaxing pools of mineral water. I tried out one of the sauna rooms, a “jade room”, that was actually peaceful but I wasn’t able to stand it over a few minutes. Nanning Hot Springs, did not have the friendliest staff, they laugh at you when you try to communicate vs. trying to be helpful… But they do care for your needs if they know…
Bus experience from Nanning to Hanoi: so the big thing we learned was at the border between China and Vietnam: pack and carry EVERYTHING with you as they have you go thru China customs, walk thru to Vietnam customs down the street and the board a whole new bus. No chance of getting stuff off the one way over in China. We only left behind a little bit of food. Not terribly disappointing. Just another learning experience.
In Hanoi at the train station, look out for extremely helpful people who might take your luggage, bring you to your cabin in less than two minutes, and expect payment, large payment… Hah. Just don’t let the person take your luggage or just don’t give them the $200,000 VND, we gave him $20,000 VND, equivalent to $1 USD but had to argue with the person to take it and let us go into our cabin.
Also in Hanoi there are different colored taxis. We were told to trust only white with red and blue stripes or green taxis. Never can tell, we got along well enough.
Now off for another night train adventure! Already had one, so three more nights to go!
Thanks for traveling with us on another adventure!
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