Sunday, May 4, 2014

Train travel for Romantics

“You think of travelers as bold, but our guilty secret is that travel is one of the laziest ways on earth of passing the time. Travel is not merely the business of being bone-idle, but also an elaborate bumming evasion, allowing us to call attention to ourselves with our conspicuous absence while we intrude upon other people’s privacy — being actively offensive as fugitive freeloaders. The traveler is the greediest kind of romantic voyeur, and in some well-hidden part of the traveler’s personality is an unpickable knot of vanity, presumption, and mythomania bordering on the pathological. This is why a traveler’s worst nightmare is not the secret police or the witch doctors or malaria, but rather the prospect of meeting another traveler."  - Paul Theroux 

Five years ago I took the train from Hanoi to Saigon with two American friends. We each turned up prepared with copious booze and cigarettes, each assuming that the other two would be sensible and bring snacks and hydration. Nope. The train had no restaurant car, so we spent the next two days buying all the chicken and sticky rice, whenever an old lady came by selling it, and feeling like survivalist vagabonds. 

I don't know if I'm older or if things have changed, but this time felt a lot less vagabond and a lot more luxe. Liz and I had the entire cabin to ourselves for the larger part of the 15-hour journey, and we spent it reading, drawing, peering out the window and eating nut mix. I read aloud from A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh and we drank several cups of coffee with sweetened condensed milk. 

Some creatures say HI 

1 comment:

RJF said...

I don't understand how you two made this look like you're two victorian noble-women on their european tour. But I love it XX