“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” - Lao Tzu
Saturday, 30 October 2010
Overnight train - Saigon to Danang
I caught the overnight train from Saigon to Danang in order to spend some time in Hoi An, a town located on the Vietnam coast about mid-way between Saigon in the south and Hanoi in the north. Danang was where the first US forces landed in Vietnam during the war, and the 30-odd Km coastline between Danang and Hoi An is famously known as China Beach.
This is to be the first of many overnight train rides on my travels, so I was keen to Suss things out a bit to prepare for some of the other legs.
I took a berth in a soft sleeper cabin, which features 4 beds to a cabin. In theory this means sharing with 3 other people, but in reality there were 6 of us who slept in that cabin, and it was very stuffy in the heat with non-functional air conditioning.
I was sharing with a man, three ladies and a baby, and none of them could speak a word of English (and I speak no Vietnamese). Apart for the occasional miming game to try to communicate thing such as the location of the food trolly, and plenty of polite smiles and nods and the odd photo shared along the way, I had most of time to myself. And to be honest I really enjoyed it. Two of the ladies chatted constantly throughout the entire trip which didn't bother me, and the mother doted over her baby (who seemed amazingly placid and happy). The man pretty much kept to himself.
I wandered up and down the train a bit and met a few friendly people but sadly the communication barrier was too great to go much beyond sign language. Nevermind, it was still a fascinating ride and reassuring that I won't be driven crazy during the longer stretches of my trans-siberian trip later on.