Thursday, 24 July 2014

A CHANCE MEETING - ON THE NIGHT TRAIN TO HUE

We took a trip in 2007 from Hanoi to Hue via the “Reunification Express”. Our tour notes read “we use 4-berth, air conditioned, soft sleeper compartments”. Once on the train we found that “soft” meant a 50mm foam mattress thrown on top of a hard, flat bunk. “air conditioned” meant a draft coming from a vent in the roof that varied between hot and hotter. It was obvious that the only way you would get any sleep would be with the assistance of the yellow label 1996 Bordeaux wine we had purchased in Hanoi.

the infamous "Bordeaux"
 Back in Sydney it was the night of the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gra and as we were travelling with a gay friend in our little group we had decided to get into the spirit and have a fancy dress party. We picked up our costume clothing at various market stalls in Hanoi and changed on the train. My pink feather boa was stunning!

We took a wander through the train and the locals all got a good laugh and poked a lot of fun at us - they took it all in the fun it was meant to be. On the walk through the train we came across the “6-berth non-air conditioned, hard sleepers”. Aside from the six people in the bunks, many of the compartments also had a few extra passengers on the floor as well. This made me realise what relative luxury I was travelling in. Things like this make you remember how good you really have things in life.

Our Mardi Gra continued in the carriage next to ours, there was another tour group there who decided to join the festivities. We got chatting to lots of different folks, Germans, Swiss, Kiwis, Americans, etc. One interesting couple we spent sometime in conversation with were from Paris, on their way to Saigon to meet with their daughter. The daughter had just spent a few months in Australia as part of a round the world trip. We naturally exchanged contact details and discussed the art of wine making for sometime, as the chap from Paris was a fellow wine making hobbyist.

Our new found French friends did not seem phased by our ridiculous outfits, even if they seemed a little conservative (she was a director of a french bank and he was a business consultant of some sort), both in their late 50's or early 60's. We shared some "Bordeaux" in plastic cups and did our best to converse in Franglais and hand signals. We bid them bon nuit around 2am and got some rest in our sleeper compartment. The mattress felt much softer thanks to the "Bordeaux".

Since then we have caught up with Alexandre and Catherine in Paris for dinner when we have been there in 2007 and 2009. Seems like a long time, we must catch up again soon.

fancy dress
dinner in Paris









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