We’ve got some time to kill before our train to Nha Trang so we hit backpacker road again for food. We find a place with Louisiana style food and sit in some mini chairs facing the street. I order up some Gumbo. Love a good Gumbo. Especially when it comes with a large shard of plastic in it like this one. The Gumbo is good, I eat it carefully.
The vendors are rolling in hot the whole time we’re eating but sadly pink munchkin doesn’t show up.
We grab our packs from The Hangout and head for a cab. The Cabbie has no idea what we’re trying to say so it turns into charades. “Chugga Chugga, whoo whoo!?”, nope, “Ka-chunk Ka-chunk Ka-chunk?!”, oh I think it’s clicking, “Ahhhh chinka chinka chinka?”, yep that’s the one. We all start laughing and are off to the train station (which is Ga btw)
Get in to the stain and it’s slightly confusing. We make the rounds looking for tickets. A young dude sees us doing laps and comes over to help us out. Nice guy, he comes up to the counter and makes sure we get what we want. This is 3 soft beds in a sleeper car. We politely shake hands and thank him for his help.
The train is already here so we find our car and hop on. One last look back at Ho Chi Minh city. We had a good time here. Sigh. Gone
We find our bunks. I’m separate from MacKay and Drisdelle. They have a couple dudes in their ‘room’ already. One is a Vietnamese guy who lives in Orange County, of all places. He doesn’t talk much. The other more than makes up for the chatter (in a good way), he is an older American from Baltimore who has basically been over here since the Vietnam war.
This was a really interesting guy. His name is Rich. He’s a natural entertainer, anyways quick off the cuff with something witty, a worldly sort, has traveled all over and is fluent in Vietnamese, and mostly he’s a consummate conversationalist.
Instantly likable and funny with an old fashioned kind of demeanor, Rich launches into a tirade about the American election, dropping Trump bombs like crazy but mixed with solid humor. His insights carry weight and his life experiences lend cred to his spiel in a way that makes his opinions hard to deny. In summary, he’s worried.
He says he ran an independent party one time and even managed to rack up 34 votes. It was for the State of Confusion. “It was called the Party Party. I only promised one joint a day for every citizen. My slogan was ‘We’re not going to solve any problems but we are going to have a great time'”. He’d deliver these segments of comedy with some great eye brow raises, a chuckle and a smile. Give him a cigar and he’d be Groucho Marx. I should mention Rich was wearing suspenders.
I was hoping to have the sleeper car all to myself but while talking to Rich a couple of girls made themselves comfortable, the older one going straight to sleep mode.
The train starts off and Drisdelle and I figure it’s time to explore. A few cars down is the diner car. Only a handful of wooden booths and a little bar with snacks and drinks.
We post up, crack the Chairman Mao playing cards Drisdelle picked up in Hong Kong and launch back into our International Crazy Eights Countdown Tournament. Some Vietnamese guys next to us get a fried squid and chips. We start into the Saigon Greens.
After a few rounds we’re about ready to call it a night. Back at the bunks Rich is wondering if we want to do a little tour up in the countryside above the city. Meet some locals, see a rice field and some crazy bell contraption that a guy made from vines and rocks that is powered by mini waterfalls in a river. “Sure, sounds fun”, “Great I’ll contact my buddy Paul and we’ll set it up. I’ll talk to a driver when the train gets into Nha Trang.”
And with that we bid our new friend goodnight, a solid plan already in motion for Nha Trang upon our early arrival. 530am, ouch.