Vietnam: Take 2 – Birthdays and Night Trains

Day 7 (14/08/2010)

NOTE: Normally I do my travel journals on a three to five day lag. This lets the minutiae disappear and be forgotten but keeps the memorable and noteworthy stuff. At least I hope the stuff I’d written has been readable at least. I originally wrote this entry the day of the fourteenth when everything was fresh and vivid in my mind.

And… that’s where it’s going to stay. In my journal and in my memory. It was one of those days that occurs rarely, if ever, to most people. I met the most amazing woman, on her birthday, in the bed next to me in the hostel. Next to that crappy foldout. And we spent a magical day together.

There are people who know about the day in detail, those that do, do so for a reason.

This... plus cheesecake!

I’ll summarize it with this. I managed to arrange this sunset to coincide with her slice of birthday cheesecake.

I’ll end my non-revealed day with her with these final three lines from my journal.

I… don’t want to go to Sapa on the night train tonight or back to South Korea. I never saw this one coming. How could I?


The taxi arrives, as taxis do, and I reluctantly climb into it. I miss her already. Half-musing about blowing off this trip to Sapa to offer to go with her to Halong Bay.

Then I’m at the train station and herded into my room. Quickly, I peel off my sweat-saturated clothes for some clean, fresh ones. It’s not as satisfying as a cold shower but it feels damn good.

My train matriarch talking a mile-a-minute... for the whole trip.

I’m soon joined by an extended Vietnamese family. Three claim the empty bunks in the room with another eight or so dispersed throughout the sleeper car. They prove adorable. The matriarch talks a mile-a-minute in fluent… Vietnamese heedless that I know six words of her langauge. “Tam Biet, Cam on, Xiin Chao.”

It proves language isn’t essential for communication as we have a grand time. We trade names and ages and money. Some Korean Won for Chinese Yuan, while in Vietnam.

Eventually a son or son-in-law pokes his head in as we sip rice or corn hooch and hometowns and destinations are swapped. They’re going to the Seven Temple… not seven temples as I initially thought… before going on to Sapa. Me, I’m still going to Sapa.

Fast friends, new drinks.

Then the men decide it is time to visit the bar car. I’m forcibly, willingly invited. We arrive and… it’s closed. It’s up to me to break the ‘bad’ news to the ladies.
“Khong” – which means “no” in Vietnamese. This draws a goodly laugh either from my hang-dog delivery or my woeful pronunciation.

I don’t sleep much, the ladies chatter all night but it’s a good night train trip.

5:15am comes early though. Which is when I disembark from an eventful train trip and an amazing day. And I must confess, my adoptive Vietnamese Train Trip family really helped me out, helping to place one of the best travel days ever into my memory vaults and have it as a souvenir I’ll cherish as much as any memento from any of my many trips.


3 thoughts on “Vietnam: Take 2 – Birthdays and Night Trains

  1. Pingback: Malaysia/Singapore: S’pore, KL and a return to a frozen hell | Byron and his backpacks
  2. Pingback: Vietnam: Dining with Locals | Byron and his backpacks

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