The joys of travelling in Asia
We had booked an air conditioned carriage with a soft reclining seat, costing 256,000 Dong (£8), Leaving at 13:10 arriving in Nha Trang 20:10 a journey of 7 hours and a distance of 450km. We arrived early at Ho Chi Minh City railway station, thinking let’s get the luggage stowed and make ourselves comfortable.
We found our carriage and eagerly boarded looking forward to our first train journey. Our hearts sank and stomach contents churned; the carriage stank like a urinal! We both looked at each other and thought what we have done, 7 hours of this. There was no turning back we had a booked and paid for a hotel in Nha Trang.
Things didn’t get any better, the Vietnamese are not the ideal travelling companions and we were out numbered 20 to 1. They are noisy, eat like pigs, put their bare feet on the back of your chair, on several occasions I turned round and gave a Vietnamese girl one of my get your feet down or I will cut them off stares. It seemed to work. We were fortunate enough to have a Buddhist nun and her travelling companion sharing our table, the table opposite was occupied by four Vietnamese who seemed to be continually fighting for supremacy on whose bare feet should be on the table. This was quite amusing. Thankfully, they were not sharing our table. I would have handled it differently.
The other thing that was disconcerting, I had a pregnant Vietnamese women take a fancy to me, every time I looked up she would smile and wave. Perhaps she needed glasses, anyway that’s what Lynne said. (Lynne. Actually I said that she had learning difficulties.)!
After 2-3 hours nature took its course, what I had been dreading! Yes a trip to the toilet, well it was a surprise, the toilet did not smell like a urinal, so why did the train. This is one mystery that I will never be able to answer. (Lynne – cos they piss on the seats?)
We seemed to be making good progress, I asked our nun and her companion what our expected arrival time was and was told 10:00pm. I thought they must have misunderstood me.
The journey time indeed was 9 hours and not the scheduled 7 hours. The toilets did start to smell like urinals making the carriages stink more. We finally arrived at our destination, 2 hours late, thankful that we were not travelling any further. The final destination of this public toilet on a track was Hanoi, which is over 1,000km and 24 hours away.
I don’t want to think what state the train was in when it reached its final destination.