Monday, August 10, 2009

the best place in vietnam

I realized something last night: I have gotten complacent in my travel. Jaded or hardened or whatever you want to call it, but last night snapped me out of it. We were on the SE2 bound for Hanoi, in the plushy Livitrans cart: luxury attached to a howling creaking mess of cars that reek of urine, durian, and sweat all mixed in with stale cigarette smoke. And I have to say something right now, I have gone flash packer because I f---ing hate that part of the train. I hate sleeping on patched dirty mattresses with only a thin sheet between me and god knows what. I hate the cockroaches and the mice and the slimy feeling of everything on the train. I feel like I am caught in some Orwellian nightmare rocking my way through a ghost-like Vietnam cast in misty silhouettes.
Some how one of my passengers convinced me to walk the length of the train to the bar car, through eleven miserable stinking cars just to buy some crap Vietnamese beer. I went because I had this feeling, one that kept coming up: I'm stagnating. I've gotten to used to comfort: air conditioning, tourist food (free brekkie), private transport, I'm getting boring. Vietnamese trains should stink, they should be nasty and freezing cold. I finally said to myself, "I'm not scared of smells, or dirt, I dig this shit. I love the raw wild west chaos that C.A. used to dish out daily and which Vietnam will dish out if I just let it." So off we went, loosing balance, running and shouting, crashing into people's feet, stepping over floor picknicks of ramen, and getting stared at for 11 cars. And we arrived into the most brilliant fuck off bar strapped to the back of this clattering mess of a train. Greasy steel tables crammed between wooden booths, every one filled with 4-6 Vietnamese yelling over tables littered with Heineken cans, balled up pink napkins, cigarette butts, and plates of seafood (side note- train seafood is a terrifying thought). We grabbed the last spot, half a booth with a table covered in bins of silverware and chopsticks and cracked two bia 333 (ba-ba-ba). It was the kind of moment that calls to mind cramming pax on overfull chicken buses (GET ON, WE'RE IN F----ING GUATEMALA!), it is that feeling of being absolutely at home with the clamoring chaos of the world around you.

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