• Bob Taylor

Musings - Day 26

Day 26 – 21st January 2020

Good morning Vietnam! Keep the messages coming guys, they make the day appear fruitful, from the get go. Thank you all.

Great nights sleep above Mr and Mrs Happy Chong. (made up name) Unlike the previous night with the Chinese girls I couldn’t expect these two elderly people to give up their bottom bunks for me, so I had to scale the foot hinges. I think that I have eventually got a hold of the best methodology of the climb, but I am certainly glad that there is no video evidence of such. It involved a high foot levering your second foot to a position slightly higher that the first. Then a circus move which entailed my butt whizzing around unflatteringly, into an entirely abnormal position for me, to perch a single buttock (mostly right if I scaled the contraption from the left) on the edge of the bunk. At this stage I had to let go of my thus far, lifeline. It was a handle that took my entire weight as I pivoted onto the bunk. I was so relieved to make it, I think I was expecting a round of applause, or at least a 8.5 card from a random passing celebrity judge in the corridor. Heaven on earth only knows how I would have got on with a bladder complaint. Last night the noise of small kids playing and screaming in the corridor became irksome after an hour, but they were so cute. Absolutely no idea why a European type, that I dare say they had never seen before, was politely telling them to go away. They kept laughing and repeating, “Go Array.” I locked the compartment door only to hear them knocking at the door for five minutes, presumably to ask if I could come out to play? They were back there around 07:30 this morning, offering me their popcorn. You just can’t stay pretend angry for very long can you?

It is around 8:45am now and I notice from the trains information board that the temperature outside is now 23°C so it may well be the first hot one and signs of the things to come for the next few weeks. I exaggerated yesterday when I said that trains pass within ten feet of people’s houses, well I was wrong. It is actually within four feet! Phenomenally close! One lot of washing on a balcony line was being buffeted by the slipstream of the train it was that close. When in the countryside, the train is passing mile after mile of green paddy fields, only punctuated by pure white egrets making a meal out of the snails that probably habit the wetlands. The irrigation systems are tremendously efficient, numbered and well-tended, being a vital component of the best rice crop. For some reason at 9am the Vietnamese rail service seems to think that its passengers need a work out. Screen are how belting its clientele with bloody Peter Andre videos. Time to return to the ‘Happy Chongs’

Sat in the buffet car at around 1pm as there was still around seven hours to go and I needed a change of scenery. The temperature outside at this point is now 34°C. One of the ladies that serves in the buffet has the look of a prize fighter. She could freeze a glass of beer. You know the sort, no messing, you look art her for too long there is a good chance that you might turn to stone. Her name is Duc. (pronounced Doooooook) She actually has a six syllable name she painstakingly explained yesterday, but if you're okay with it, Duc’s fine by me. Duc’s served me two cold ones (for some reason she doesn’t seem to be able to bring single cans out)

In the buffet car itself, I am the only paying passenger. The other seats are taken by the trains police, guards, and other members of staff all enjoying their lunch. So it has made me feel a bit peckish. I call Duc over (not her surname by the way) to enquire after something to eat. She pointed at some kind of stew affair with a bowl of steamed rice, which I rejected thinking in part about the temperature outside. I enquired after some satay sticks with a bit of sauce. Blank looks from the Duc! So then I took a chop stick from the cutlery container in the centre of the table, together with a single paper serviette. There was a huge question mark forming above the Duc’s head. The question mark is getting larger as my detailed impersonation grows in stature. I eat the serviette after ripping into smaller squares. One by one I spit the pieces of chewed paper into my hand and then thread them onto the chopstick. When I have done five on the stick the bemused Duc is so intensely anticipating my next move, that she slides into the opposite bench seat to me to watch my next move. The chopsticks in this establishment just happen to be green, with the white pieces of tissue imitating meat. Holding the chopstick at both ends I then pretend to eat the makeshift kebab. Why I decided to add ‘Mmmmmh’ sounds to whole affair I do not know? But she got it. Yes she got it, but no they didn’t have any. (What a lot of effort) She then came up with the startling (nay shocking) phrase, “ Try Pee Nue.”

Well I can tell you I went off on one. “Firstly Duc let me tell you that I am a married man, and do not hold any truck with that kind of malarky! Secondly madam let me explain something to you ,that if I was in the mood for any kind of hanky panky nonsense, I would not go rummaging around the dangly collection of objects, looking for sausage town!” I was building up a head of steam by this time. “Furthermore,’ I bellowed, “Furthermore I do not…”

Her hand was raised in a stop signal. Now I have already explained that she gave the impression that she was a machete wielding bouncer from the wrong side of the tracks, so it threw me completely to see her laughing. She had turned into a smiling, glowing, more softer, machete wielding bouncer from the wrong side of the tracks. Her posture had changed into a kind of Shania Twain guise with her two thumbs hooked into her front belt loops. Below her thumbs I couldn’t help but see her two forefingers making extended gestures downwards towards her breeding department! Her head was going from side to side as she was saying “No!” Now when other people use the internationally recognised ‘Bobby talk,’ it takes a while to adjust. She produced from behind the counter a big blue plastic bag. Her fingers moved from the downward trajectory previously referred to, over to the bag. “Pea Nue!” She said mockingly.

Oh my goodness they were peanuts – what on earth must she have been thinking of me?

They filled an embarrassing gap.

Position: 10°46'17” N 106°41'46”E – Miles completed: 10017

Location: Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam 23:42 - 21st January 2020 - Journey 26 days 22 hours

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