Hoi An, Vietnam
I woke up today to discover that it was pouring rain outside, so i stayed in my room most of the morning. When the rain died down to a drizzle, I packed my bags, walked downstairs, and checked out of my room. I then left my bags in the lobby and walked to Seedlings to have one last meal in Hoi An – I ate a seafood pizza with beer. I then walked back to the hotel to find my ride to the train station parked outside; I grabbed my bags and joined two other backpackers as we rode from Hoi An to the railway station in Da Nang; the drive lasted about forty-five minutes and we were then dropped off at the railway station’s entrance. We then waited around for two hours for the train bound for Hanoi to arrive (it was delayed forty minutes). Once the train did arrive, I climbed aboard and walked to my berth – I had booked a soft-sleeper bed, one of four in a compartment; I greeted my roommate, who was Vietnamese, and we talked a little bit while checking out the view of the countryside between Da Nang and Hue passing us by; the train followed the winding track by the shoreline and passed through several tunnels as it trudged its way northward; we also passed by many farms, jungle, and water buffalo; the scenery was beautiful (even out of a dirty, smudged train window) and even more so as sunset approached. The Vietnamese man in our compartment also gave me some dried fruit with a large seed in the middle and sugar coating it to try (it looked like a jar of salted peanuts at first glance and in Vietnamese the fruit is pronounced “say”); it tasted kind of tangy and foreign to my tastebuds; he told me it comes from his village (Kbang in the Gia Lai Province) and apparently it is their main agricultural product and export (I’m still trying to identify what it is exactly). When the train stopped at Hue, we picked up many more passengers and the two open beds in our compartment were filled by a tour guide and one of his Dutch customers. When the sun had disappeared completely, I laid in my bed for a while reading from the Book of Isaiah until I decided to walk to the dining car to eat some dinner. I walked all the way to the back of the train to the dining car and was told that they were only serving a beef soup and a very small vegetable appetizer; since this did not interest me nor fill my stomach with anticipation, I bought three “333” beers instead and walked back to my berth. As I was drinking beer after beer in the hallway just outside the compartment, I overheard a conversation between an American and a Dutchman; I joined in and found out that the American was born in Peru and had been traveling around for some time, starting in Australia. As the conversation wore on, he grew hungry and I very nearly finished my last beer, so we both walked to the dining car; once there he had a chicken leg and rice (hmmm . . . though cold chicken and plain rice did not interest me either) and I had more beer. We discussed our past and future lives over our pathetic meals and once finished, we parted ways (him back to his hard-sleeper bed in a compartment of six and me back to my “soft” bed (I would hate to try the hard-sleeper since my bed was rather stiff). I bought some more beer – two for the road – and walked back to my train car to enjoy them. After consuming my liquid meal, I climbed up in to my bed, and went to sleep, hoping to be in Hanoi in about seven hours.