Sunday, December 07, 2008

Transit from Dalat to Hoi An

8:55pm December 7
We're in transit today and all things said we were happy to spend as little time as we did in Nha Trang and making the bestof a day in transit. Right now, Nadine and I are bunking on the Reunification Express, an overnight train heading north. Below are two Vietnamese women who are more discomforted by the two foreigners above them (in bunks) than we have been by the events of the day. We started with a bus from Dalat to Nha Trang, which was stopped twice by incidents on the road. The bus ride has given us another spectacular view of the country side and mnore evidence of how this country is still building its infrastructure by hand. It was a rainy day fgor much of the trip and at one point the fog was so think that it rendered the mountains at trees vague erasures that we might have only imagined.
As we went through a cluster of a half dozen houses there was a body lying in the the road. The first sign of life was the movement of the body toward the middle of the road, as if in protest. Eventaully with a bit of kicking and fussing a few others removed her. About an hour later we were stopped by police to determine fault in an incident involving a cyclist with an overloaded bike. There was a hole in the engine grille on the back right corner of the bus and after the driver and police discussed matters we were shifted into mini vans for the rest of the trip.

The Nha Trang experience was quickly summed up by a little street urchin with a baslket full of stuff she was trying to hawk. She started off with a rapid fire patter of war-era charm and chat, telling Nadine that she was beautiful and 23 and that I was 24. We thought about buying some postcards from her but bawked when seeing the product. Dated images that looked nothing like the Vietnam we had seen thus far and all in that cheap looking 1970's Kodachrome that tries to be colour's answer to sepia nostalgia but just gets the colours all wrong. If I bought them and mailed them to you, your response would be, "Vietnam, huh? I'll pass."
Nha Trang's beach was nice despite the cloud and wind. The city seems a bit crass and along the beach it was a bit too western. Away from the beach and toward the market things were much livelier with the kind of bustle and active street life we enjoyed in Dalat our second day. We had a chance to wander unaccosted and smile back at the meek curiosity of those whose eye we caught.
Ultimately Nha Trang was thankfully brief.