After spending one amazing night on a boat cruising Halong Bay we spent a less amazing night riding 13.5 hours on The Reunification Express.
Trains traveling between Hanoi in the North and Ho Chi Minh City in the South are often referred to as The Reunification Express although no single train actually carries this name.
We pre-booked our tickets using Baolau; an online booking office, in english, which accepts credit cards (although it should be noted that a minimal fee will be charged to use this service) and we chose to pay a little extra for a soft bed with air-conditioning.
I highly recommend paying the extra for a soft bed, I can not imagine spending an entire night on a hard bed or even worse a seat!
Even though we had booked our tickets we still had to collect them from the ticket office at the train station. There is a number system however no-one, even the staff, seemed to pay any attention to it.
In the end Matt just approached the window, with many people trying to cut in front of him and he managed to get our tickets.
When we found our compartment on the train we were somewhat disappointed that we were going to be sharing it with a 2 other people; since the girls are under 6 they were free if they shared a bed with each of us.
It wasn’t that we didn’t want to share the compartment it was more that we didn’t want our girls to keep them up all night!
The couple, from Spain, were super nice. The girl spoke great English and we chatted a lot, the guy didn’t speak any but his girlfriend translated when need be!
Thankfully they both were happy to take the top bunks allowing Matt, the girls and I to have the 2 bottom beds.
The beds, as you would expect, aren’t that big, there is space for luggage and then a rather decent sized table, a window (with curtains) and lights; and that makes up the compartment.
Eden & Clio loved the train, they spent the first hour giggling away and then amazingly they went to sleep and slept for a solid 9.5 hours!
Matt & I however did not sleep all that much. Matt drew the short straw and had to share with Clio, a.k.a the biggest bed hog ever. Not only did she insist that she needed the entire bed to herself but also the one pillow for that bunk as well as the only blanket.
I would often glimpse over and Matt would be sleeping sitting up or half off the bed.
My lack of sleep was due to a combination of things; firstly I was afraid Eden was going to fall off the bed so I wasn’t allowing myself to get into a deep sleep but also there was noise. Noise of the train as it chugged along, at times it was quite relaxing, other times not so much!
Then of course there was the noise of other people partying it up in other compartments; Matt & I both commented how we could see us doing the same pre-kids or once the kids are older, but for this trip not so much!
Honestly though, if Matt & I didn’t have to share beds with the kids I think we would have had an alright sleep!
The trains have food carts being pushed around as well as a cafeteria. We sensibly ate dinner before boarding the train but when we woke in the morning we did need to buy some breakfast.
While I can not say for sure if it was the spam like meat with rice that I ate, I am pretty certain this is what gave me an upset stomach which stuck with me for the next few days.
Have you ever been on the Reunification Express or any other sleeper train? What was your experience like?