We had all been warned not to lose our tickets as they would be needed later and we could incur a hefty fee. Hubby ensconced himself in the compartment. I asked him for his ticket, to snuggle with mine in a secret pocket. No ticket. He searched every pocket, looked in his bag then said, 'I gave it to you.' Oh no he hadn't. He was insistent. He is always right, so then I checked all my pockets and bag. In my head I also checked my sanity because I still knew he hadn't. Perhaps he had dropped it on the platform or the ticket collector had kept it as a joke. Away he went, fighting his way through the oncoming flood of human traffic and suitcases. Still no joy. Deciding to face the consequences, he flung his back on the top bunk. And what was there? Yes, his ticket. The one he had definitely given to me. You have to know him to love him x
So, cases were sorted and bunks arranged. I protested (meekly) when Rose and Lotetta insisted we had the lower bunks. I am surely looking feeble at this stage of the holiday. We said we would give them a leg up if necessary,
The journey began. The train began to rock and roll, making groaning and banging noises at different intervals. We chatted about our homelands and shared photos. Kind Rose brought out some sucky sweets. Just the right sort for a long journey. Wandering Wind brought breakfast packs, prepared by himself and family. Very kind.
Our fellow travellers decided to ascend to the Heavens. There was only one small step along the way. This proved no problem for this intrepid pair. Rose gave a droll commentary as she clambered up which set me off. From that point on, I kept having one of my uncontrollable laughing fits. I am prone to them at times. They must have wondered what sort of lunatic was under them.
And so began a very long night of the rockiest, noisiest sorts. It had some highlights. For example, it was necessary to visit the rest room. I opened the door and there sat a tiny Asian gentleman, looking for all the world like the wise one in 'Karate Kid'. I resisted the urge to say 'Wipe on, wipe off'. I just held my hands together, bowed and left hastily. I never saw him again.
The HF group started waking around 6am. Some braved the sinks. We resorted to our wipes. Feeling less smelly, we wandered along the corridor, chatting and trying to give off a 'we are not really shattered air'.
Lotetta and Rose emerged from their bunks. We set about eating our breakfasts. We had a few laughs. It was very difficult to distinguish salt from sugar when you can't read Vietnamese. But it was a nice gesture and filled a hole or two.
Rose popped back upstairs for a rest. While Dave and Loretta watched the world go by in the corridor, I was delighted when Splash popped in for a chat. Such an interesting lady who works as a Ranger in Australia. And what a wedding story - planned, sorted and completed in three days. When she told me the age of her children, you could have knocked me down with a feather. Whatever she eats, I'd like some.
Warning Wind walked along the corridor, reminding everyone that our station approached. We had to be quick as it only stopped for five minutes. We seemed to be at the back of the queue. Large bags were taking time to lift down the steep steps. Panic attack in the making. The warning whistles sounded. We were still on board, Hurry along my inner voice shouted. They must have heard. With a hop, skip and a jump we were off and crossing the tracks to the other side. A little care needed here to avoid getting feet or case wheels caught in the rails. Squashed PJ would not be a good look.
Woeful Wind was not sure if our rooms would be ready. He suggested we looked tired as he pleaded our case. Walking through the lobby, he gently reprimanded me for doing my best weary King Richard III impersonation. He thought I was overacting. I thought I was being normal. The HF's exhausted looks worked. Our rooms were allocated. From the grimy train, we were now upgraded to a clean, luxury spa hotel. It had a swimming pool, relaxing chairs, pretty bamboo pictures and, most of all, a bed to die for.
To stretch out on the mattress and wallow under the air-con was all I wanted. Wicked Wind had other ideas. His first was most impressive. A traditional Vietnamese meal. When served, it looked so good, you didn't want to taste it.
Once you had, you were glad you did. Except for the bean paste flowers. They definitely looked better than they tasted. But, each to their own.
No time to rest. We were whisked away to the Imperial Palace. Still needing quite a lot renovating as the war caused loads of damage and bullet holes, it was quite impressive. Maybe we would have appreciated its splendour more if we had not been so hot and tired. Wonderful Wind seemed to get the message and golf buggies were summoned which took us back to the coach.
Hotel please?! No way. Off to the Red Pagoda where legend has it that a Lady in Red ( sing along now) told a future king to build this structure. If he and his family prayed there every day, his dreams would come true. And they did. My little legs had a few more steps to master before I could view a car which I remembered from childhood. A Buddhist Monk had driven it before setting fire to himself in protest to the restrictions on his religion. That was a sobering thought.
A planned boat trip back to the hotel was both cooling and entertaining. Sitting near Kathy and Win ( i must check out to see if that is his name) we discovered fellow QI fans. Hurrah for Stephen Fry and his story of the Vietnamese Army. Wind passed around a grapefruit type fruit. I disgraced myself by tucking in, skin and all, until a HF member showed me how to tackle it the correct way. They are good to me.
The thought of a swim grew and grew. Hubby could not be persuaded, so, plucking up courage I set off alone in search of the pool. I almost ended up in the Bullfrog Pond. I was diverted by the quick actions of the bell boys and the croaking of said beasties. It was like a warm bath. A few more of the HF joined me. When the word 'mosquito' was mentioned, I was off like a shot. They seem to have taken a shine to my tasty skin several times already this trip. Even then, I did not manage to find my way back without a slight misadventure. There were two lifts to the third floor. One goes direct to the dining room. I imagine the diners got quite a surprise when the very wet lady emerged from the lift, wearing little else than a smile and a swimsuit. I gave a Bridget Jones' sheepish grin and turned around, wishing I had her bunny tail and ears too!! Off to find the right lift and my enormous bed. Night all x