Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Nha Trang to Danang by train

Travelling by train in Vietnam was never a quiet affair but the introduction of Rail TV in carriages has added to the aural clatter. If you’re seated on an overnight journey, be sure of a wake up call from the TV screens howling into life in the early hours. The dawn ride from Nha Trang to Danang saw our tilting train creep along the coastline where fishing boats and coracles could be spied as well as conical-hatted locals sloshing in the shallows. Acres of paddies rolled out around us decorated by palms and the terracotta-coloured tiles of local homes. Occasionally the road would follow the track and towns would sprout out of the fringes of the emerald-green paddies. Competing with Rail TV was the screeching siren of the train and the quieter rub of the drinks’ trolley. Popcorn, coffee and nuts would roll past in comfortably regular rhythm. Beyond paddies, perfect stripes of vegetable patches and gardens stuffed with bougainvillea filled the train windows. After lunch – plastic boxes of rice, bean sprouts and chicken and a cup of cabbage soup – a graveyard of Battenberg cake-coloured graves cloaked a large field, tatty banana trees choked up smallholdings and storks tip-toed across ponds while ducks wriggled in their pens. Most of the free-flying birds, it seemed, were unimpressed with the unscary scarecrows that surveyed the rice harvest.

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