The Railway Hanoi - Vietnam

beforeyoupack
Before You Pack @beforeyoupackJanuary 2019 · 4 min read

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When I was in Saigon, Vietnam I came in contact with Thao. Thao is the owner of The Railway Hanoi. It's a coffeeshop right at the terrifying train street. It's a place with an amazing culture and friendly people everywhere. It's a whole community.

When Thao told me about this place it was a fact that I would visit it during my stay in Hanoi. I invited some friends and we headed towards the coffeeshop. We only planned to get 1 warm drink and see the train pass by. But we ended up staying for 6 hours! We basically spent all day there.

It was a day well spent. This is the most social coffeeshop I have ever visited! We settled in on the top floor with a view over the tracks. We ordered some hot tea and coffee and started chatting.

During our stay more people came by and we all started chatting. The whole top floor was basically filled with amazing people from all over the world. We all got to know each other.

We grabbed a guitar and we started playing songs. My friend is amazing at the guitar and I was the one who had to sing 😬. I am not a good singer and I am shy to do so. But I managed, it was just fun! Sadly we didn't get the others to sing, they were more shy than us.

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My friend travels with one of those fujifilm instax camera's and we got some amazing pictures.

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The memory is forever stored in the 'polaroid' pictures.

The train street

The train station and the railway in Hanoi was built in 1902 by the French. It connects North Vietnam to South Vietnam the whole length is over 12,000 km (7,000+ mi) long.

Along the tracks in Hanoi are houses. We don't know if the houses were here first or the tracks were here first. The houses are very small and are multiple stories high. People use the tracks to hang their clothes or to cook food. It really is an amazing culture trip.

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The houses are very close to the tracks. Every day the train speeds through the narrow train street. There's not even one meter between the train and the sides of the houses. People rush in their clothes and food. They duck in door openings as the train rushes through just a few inches away. As soon as the train passed, the clothes get hanged again, food gets cooked and people sit on the tracks again.

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The first time I saw the train pass by, I was outside. Right in front of the coffeehouse. The train came speeding in, honking to warn everyone. I expected for the train to drive slower. But no, It passes by pretty fast! It's very sketchy. The moment the train passes right next to you, you get hit by the wind! Wham! The feeling is insane. It's intense. People cheer and wave at the train.

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We had a wonderful day here at The Railway Hanoi. I will be spending a lot of time here. I'm also working on the story on how it all got started. My friend Thao did a lot of work getting this community together and turn the street into what it is now. There's no information like this out there. I'm so grateful that I have the chance to do this. Thao is also writing a book about the train street and the locals. It is really interesting and I invite everyone to come and spent some time here. The atmosphere is truly amazing. Tell them you found this place through me. Say "I'm a friend of Kevin" and you might be able to get some stories about me and my time there :)


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Comments

The train street is so interesting. I would guess that the houses must have existed first and the train was put down an existing narrow street because it was the only option without demolishing things. The other option would be that the train tracks were there and people kept building closer and closer. For some reason I think it's more likely they would build through an existing street rather than people intentionally building that close to the tracks. Perhaps if the buildings were just built by poor people without any approval. Who knows in a foreign country though.

That's one of the few tourists destinations I would like to see.


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A lot of the houses are actually in 2 parts. On the left side of the tracks is their living space and on the other side is their toilet/bathroom. So you can say that the train runs through the houses.

Another possibility is that by opening the train station a lot of people came to Hanoi to live in the capital or to sell their goods from the village. So they built shacks next to the tracks. It’s really hard to tell.

The train street has a countryside feel to it. The whole community knows each other and they help each other. It’s very different from the rest of the city. That is why I love coming here so much. It’s a little break from all the city craziness.


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theunion
LA UNION @theunionJanuary 2019

This post was chosen to be voted by THEUNION.

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Thank you! :)


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guchtere
Remy @guchtereJanuary 2019

This railway is getting famous here, good thing you showed it to us a little bit different. You also got some instax pictures from the train? The coffeeshops sounds lovely.


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Yes it is getting more and more famous every day. I’m writing an interesting story on how it all got started :)

No I don’t have instax pictures of the train, sadly.


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