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All Aboard the Languorous Train From Hanoi to Saigon

The train connecting Vietnam’s largest cities takes 35 hours. Yet even after the first time I finished the trip, I was already coming up with excuses for why I needed to do it again. For me, the journey is much more than a chance for great views and time to reflect. It’s an exploration of life itself.

Every time I take a train in a new country, I’m fascinated by the interactions and activities that occur within the carriages. Somehow, through all their quirks and oddities, they represent a microcosm of a nation’s wider culture.

Hanoi Central Train Station.

You see people meeting for the first time and forming friendships, long-haul passengers relishing the ride, and families reuniting or saying farewell. You see kids playing with their toys beside old people passing the time. You see men drinking beer together after lunch.

None of these things would seem out of place in any Vietnamese city. Here, they are framed by the windows and aisles of a slow-moving train, adding color to days that would otherwise be mundane.

Take a ride below:


Two men killing time.

Lunchtime in the restaurant carriage.

Thuốc lào time.

A staff member checks tickets.

Sleeping, resting, playing on phones in the carriage.

Kids playing together.

A child plays with his toy on a window sill.

The conductor's hat.

A young boy enjoying the view.

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