Our guardian angel, Vietnamese God, has decided that we should go from Hanoi to Hue by night train. He took us to the train station to book tickets. It has been raining on an off. We witnessed a traffic accident in front of the station. A motorcycle cut off another motorcycle and the cut-off party slipped and fell, driver and passenger tumbling down the pavement, all tangled up in their raincoats. The man driving the other motorcycle didn’t bother to stop or even look back at his victims. The passenger who fell off the back seat of the bike scrambled up, dusted herself, then ran out of the rain and took refuge under the canopy of the train station, where she stood calmly looking at her friend still lying on the road. Vietnamese God was the first to rush to the victim to help her up and raise her motorbike. His reward was a blast of obscenities from the victim, who thought he was the guy who hit her. She did apologize once she realized her mistake, but VG explained to me later on, shaking his head : The Vietnamese are like that.
Our train started right on time. We reserved four soft cots in one wagon. The whole train seemed to be invaded by some very loud French tourists. I used to get angry at such people, but now I understand that their loudness is only a front for their insecurity and anxiety. That did not stop K8 and me, the only two fluent French speakers in our group, from making fun of them, by saying loudly : «Ah merde alors, impossible de trouver du vin potable sur ce foutu train!» «Et ils savent même pas faire un bon cassoulet! M’enfin, tu te rends compte!», «M’ouais, les mangues c’est pas mal, mais ça ne vaut pas une bonne pêche de vigne!», etc..
The ticket person told us the fare includes supper and breakfast. Lies, lies and lies. There was no supper to be had, unless you go to the head of the train, stepping over zillions of people crammed in hard-seat wagons. It never stopped raining until Hue. As we got near our destination, breakfast was served. Some guy went around distributing ramen boxes and disposable chopsticks. Thank God we finally reached civilization!