Thankfully, as I write this 17 hours into our 18 hour journey, the trip has gone well. We pulled out of DaNang at dusk so our visuals leaving the city were only of the houses boarding the tracks. In this country there is no big fence, actually no fence at all, to keep the tracks clear. The kids, puppies, cows and chickens on the loose seem quite capable of avoiding the loud clattering train stretching through their neighbourhood.
We played euchre, had some food we brought aboard and sampled the gruel sold from a card in the hallway. Gruel sounds pretty unappetizing, but the styrofoam bowl of rice mush sprinkled with thin shavings of chicken pulled by hand out of plastic bag hung from the side of the cart (who knows when it last saw a refrigerator) proved to be a filling and tasty meal.
Our private cabin is about 6’ x 6’ and has four bed and a little table. The air conditioning is either on full force to take the humidity and heat out of the air, or it’s off and we’re quickly stripping off our sweaters and opening the window, which the staff quickly close again on us.
This morning it was nice to see the farmers out working their rice fields and tending their water buffalos and cows. The young calfs seemed to enjoy tromping through the plentiful mud. The hills here are mounds that jut abruptly from the flat ground and look like someone just dropped them out of an aircraft. Halong Bay, the famous site we aren't going to see due to fog this time of year, is littered with this pretty mounds. I’m sorry we’ll miss it.
The farmers seem to work their field diligently, and it’s not hard to imagine on a hazy morning like this 40 years ago war would have been raging nearby creating quite a horrid distraction in these fields. The truth is, we’ve seen nothing related to the “American War” in this country yet, but I’m sure that will change in the north.
Our unlimited data/phone package that only cost $14 per month continues to supply a steady internet stream for the four of us through the countryside. I remember when we could barely get internet service in Switzerland….
The good internet and few distractions have allowed us to do some research on how to spend the next three weeks. Our final two weeks of the journey are scheduled in Singapore and Kuala Lampur, but three weeks have been up for grabs. Now only one week remains left to book, which we think we’ll spend in Vietnam. I’ll let Barry share his good deal with you on the two newly-planned weeks - I’d hate to spoil his fun.
So my general thought on the train in Vietnam is positive. Despite the rather foul bathrooms, we’ve had a good night’s rest, some authentic travel food, pretty rural Vietnam scenery, quality time as a family and time to plan ahead. And nobody got motion sick - what more could I ask for.