To my delight (or horror….not sure yet), I am one of the green trains Headed for Tuy Hoa. This is a local train that has no air conditioning and has metal screens for windows. So far I am lucky, I have 2 seats to myself and that is good because they are pretty small. I do not mind sharing if a pretty young thing wishes 😉 The railroad employs a lot of people. Most things are done manually. All of the road crossings are manned by 2 people who either drag a gate across the road, or lower an arm. There are also flag men to give signals, and armed Rail police watching. We set off at 6:30 am with the train blasting its horn as we pass small tin and wood shanties built along the track. Unlike
the night train this one is on the horn constantly and I am in coach 1. I think there will be no relaxing on this trip. I really hope I do not have to go to the bathroom anytime soon, as I do not want to even look at the toilets.
Well it turns out that my suspicions were correct. The blaring of the horn never stopped and it was one of the most interesting experiences that I have had in a while. It really was not negative…. The coach was not too hot, and
the people were quiet, unlike I had imagined. I had the visions of banging techno music or Karaoke, but instead it was only the constant shrill shrieking of the train horn. I arrived in the city of Tuy Hoa around 10:00 am and my friend Nghia, the owner of V’Explore travel picked me up on a motorcycle and we proceeded to his family’s house for introductions. After a morning of greetings, we jumped on a bike for a short drive around town.
Tuy Hoa is a beautiful small city. It is very clean and there are no tourists. I
do not know if that will last long with the development in Vietnam going full steam ahead. The streets are wide and for the most part quiet. Unlike other cites, there is very little garbage accumulation during the day. Nghia and I did a short drive around the beach area before returning to his father in laws house for lunch. The women had just finished preparing an excellent lunch of Iguana spring rolls, caviar like dish made from very tiny shellfish, and a roast chicken. Hau was not there to seize the chicken head, so we were able to get through lunch sober. It was nap time, So I borrowed a bike and headed out on my own.
The day prior, I had sent an email off to an expat living in the city, and had received an answer. I headed over to his house to meet him. Drifter, a commenter this blog suggested I drop in on him and so I did. The door was answered by Bob, a totally confused person as to who I was and why I was there. It took a while, but we finally figured out it was a connection through Facebook. Bob and his wife work for the NGO organization Victims of Agent Orange. I did not know there were still victims, but perhaps there are. He and his wife seemed like nice people, and I am sure I will run into him again in the future. He is trying to open an American restaurant in Tuy Hoa, and is not sure how it will be received. I for one will be a customer when in Tuy Hoa……. Anyway…… back to Tuy Hoa.
It is a quiet city. There are not too many motorcycles on the roads, and not very many cars. What there were were street vendors everywhere grilling up some delicious things. In the afternoon, we spent more time driving around the city with Nghia’s beautiful wife and 2 girls. One of the interesting locations we went to is a giant Cham structure on the top of a hill/almost mountain. After we stopped for some grilled corn with fish sauce by a roadside, went for a good cup of coffee, and wasted some time before a get together that was planned for a seaside restaurant.
The food was good, but the restaurant lacked in service. We dined on Crab, fish, squid, shrimp, and BBQ Scallops. As we were sitting there, I began to get an Idea for a new tour in Vietnam that nobody offers. I discussed it a bit with Nghia, and he seemed to agree that it could be done if there was enough interest in it….. I will speak of this idea in a later blog. At 9 pm, it was all over and time for most to go home……. But wait!! We were not finished yet. Now where could we go to have a beer or two before we went home???
You guessed it!! KARAOKE!!
I am now sitting in the front seat of a small bus on the way back to Nha Trang. I am being smitten by memories from 1999 when I was on the exact same route. Things are hauntingly familiar but I now see it through different eyes. This trip was sheer pleasure. It is 1:30 pm the next day. I am going to have dinner with my wife and a good sleep, but I will be on another trip with a different person tomorrow back to Tuy Hoa tomorrow…
I will put a lot more photos to follow.