Overnight seat from hell in cockroach carriage
Trip Start Sep 15, 2012
129Trip End May 01, 2013
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We returned to our cabin to repack our bags and prepare for our long trip to Danang later tonight - train seats for 15 hours - Yikes!
We had been promised a cookery class on the boat before our trip ended and this consisted of smiley Tony showing off his culinary skills in front of vegetables shaped as doves revolving on a cake stand and encouraging us to let loose with some pre-mixed spring roll filling...wow, the crowd was enthralled....
Spring rolls rolled, we were allowed a small amount of free time before sitting down to eat what we had just created (rolled)
We sat down to a lunch that couldn't be more different to the portions from the night before. Not only were our French/Canadian/Chinese combo absent for the meal (having jumped ship earlier) but we were treated to multiple delicacies rolled out before our eyes which we savoured except for a very suspicious looking stuffed crab shell which looked like it had been found somewhere and just had a layer of dust picked off the top...
No sooner had we finished our fruit cocktail desert than we were practically back on our minibus transfer to Hanoi - the same dangerous driving, the same weird roadhouse, the same cheeping - only in reverse...until after a miserable couple of hours we arrived back in horrid Hanoi and asked to be dropped near the train station. We said fond goodbye to Tony as we were thrown out at the traffic lights and found a place to have a beer whilst we waited for our train.
We crossed the tracks to our platform with high hopes that our seats in the local carriage would be comfortable and clean. When we got to car No.12 all of our worst nightmares were realised. Grimey, cockroach infested carriages, with screechy kids, dirty hard seats, packed in like sardines with no air conditioning or openable windows, passengers with their feet on the back of seats, bags in the aisles, loud people cheeping on mobile phones... (Suggestion: Asians need to reproduce far less - source: Vikki Kirkwood)
We found our way to our seats feeling very uncomfortable, so much so that Vikki suggested she might go and discuss the possibility of an upgrade to a sleeper carriage - it was a 15 hour journey after all. After much yabbering in Vietnamese from various platform officials it was confirmed that for $50 USD we could in fact get a sleeper - woo hoo! Vikki rushed excitedly to Paula to impart the news and in seconds both sheepishly departed the carriage of paupers and were rushing down the platform to the oasis of the sleeper section.
As soon as we climbed aboard we realised that something was amiss. Namely hygiene and decor. This was before we looked into a horrendous heroin chic six bed shit-hole straight out of a PoW camp with semi-toothless locals playing cards and smoking who knows what. For this pleasure they were asking 50 crisp dollars on top of the money we had already spent for our seats from hell! We'd been duped and there was no way we were getting into that cabin with those gangsters.
Vietnamese meerkat eyes were on us as we shuffled our way back onto the seated carriage and turfed half-sleeping women off our seats - again.
For some reason, the tannoy system was blaring out more water torture music and continued to do so until the TV switched to the festive movie (which we were really in the mood for...): Jingle All The Way, starring Arnold Swarzenegger but with a high pitched womans voice dubbing over every single characters voice with no tonal shift away from 'the sound of glass breaking'. We decided to just put up and shut up and hope that a refreshment trolley laden with spirits dare venture into this class of carriage. We practically snapped his hand off when he arrived and bought all of the cans of Heineken he had in his possession and some prawn crackers. This kept us quiet for a while as we tried not to notice the cockroaches running along the floor where men and young kids were sleeping...does this make us snobs?!
When the movie finished, we both had a ciggie out of the vestibule window (nobody on this train gives a shit what you do...!) and tried to find a seated position that may offer some minutes of dozing. No. No need to sleep to have a nightmare - you are in one...the night was a long and bumpy one. Needless to say that sleep deprivation when you are that tired is agonising.
We closed our eyes and waited for morning....