|We boarded the train at Cao Lai and found that we shared our compartment with a young Spanish couple. They were on a month-long holiday and were going to Ha Noi to catch the train to Ninh Binh - at 06.15 the following day. In theory a good plan as our train was scheduled to arrive at 04.55.
The journey was fine, much more comfortable than the outward journey, but the train arrived in Ha Noi at 06.05. We still don't know if the Spaniards made their train. We found the trains invariably leave the terminus on time, but arrival times don't always coincide with the timetable!
We got a taxi back to the Art Hotel where we stayed on our first arrival in Ha Noi. They had very kindly offered us to look after our bags and the use of a shower, which was very gratefully received! So, shower, breakfast and we were back on the streets again. This time we walked to the French Quarter, but this was disappointing as we saw few original buildings though we did see a huge new building housing luxury brands such as Ralph Lauren, Chanel, Gucci, Kenzo, and more. It all seemed quite obscene given the poverty we saw in the streets all around. We wandered back to the Old Quarter, spotted a cafe with Vietnamese eating there and had another quite tasty lunch. Back to the hotel for the airport car the hotel had organised for us and we are now sitting in the airport departure lounge awaiting our flight. Another boring airport!
We were very lucky with our choice of hotel here. The room was very comfortable with a huge bed (probably over 7 feet wide), very modern bathroom, great breakfast. All very good, but it was the staff that made our experience so great, they couldn't do enough for us, suggestions about eating out, what to do, meeting us, getting the right taxis, but also they offered to look after our bags on return from Ha Long Bay and from Sa Pa, even though we only stayed one night - the first night. They were fantastic.