Night in a train
7 pm Thursday night, we are in Nha trang train station. Tomorrow morning, I have a diving class in one of the international ho-chi-Minh schools. Tom and I are going to take the night train.
The train station hall is empty of any informations board. There are 5 or 6 rows of bench in the middle of the room where 50 people’s waits quietly of theire train. Children’s are running around, admiring toys in the shop-window.
4 girls are sited behind desks windows waiting to seel trains tickets. The only piece of technologies in the room is an old computer screen attach close to the ceiling which display a world window saying « đào tạo về thời gian ». You can see the mouse closing and opening new windows as the trainstation’s staff is updating info on the screen.
The train is on time this time, we can see it on the platform. As we walk toward it, we must stop to show our tickets when Vietnameses are just passing through.
We have to cross the rail to get to it, but there is no bridge or under ground crossing path. So every one is on the railway…
When we arrive in from of our sleeping car, a new ticket collector is waiting in a classy uniforme. After checking our ticket for the second time, we can up on the three big steps.
A small hallway bring us to our cabin where an old lady is all ready sited on the bottom bed. 4 beds per cabine and a tv screen showing the history of sagon, we definitely have a delux cabine! The pillow, blanket and relatively confy matlas are waiting for us. You can shoose to share your sleeping car with 3 or 5 other persons, soft or hard matlas is also an option and if you really when the « same same but cheap » you can pass the 9 hours journey in a sitting-car.
It’s 8 pm and we are on the move. The ticket collector is checking our tickets one last time, just in case, and provided a small bottle of water to every passager. If unlike the old lady, you haven’t thought to bring your diner, the crew pass in the hallway with a trolley of snacks and soda drinks.
It’s time to sleep, all lights are off, the tv is quiet. Hidden under the cover to protect our self from the AC coming down the ceiling, we are nurse by the motion of this slow ride.
The train will stop several time during the night, to give priority to an other train. At 3:30am the ticket collector is back. Knocking on doors, he is announcing our arrival to Saigon in 45 minutes. He will pass as many time as need on each cabin until every one is sited up right on the bed. To make sure no-one will miss the stop, Vietnamese music is also plaing in every car. The old lady is more discipline that we are. She is ready to go, suitcase in front of her, silk gloves on, perfect chignon..
It’s 5am in Hô-Chi-Minh-City, the sun is starting to rise as we get out of the train station. One last ticket chek before existing. The city is waking up. Already, an army of Vietnamese in blue uniforme are waiting for the travelers to offer there service : « Motobike ! Do you want Motobike ??? »
Half asleep still, we walk to quarter 1 enjoying the smell of morning street barbecue.
Welcome to Saigon.