Saturday, May 10, 2008

Day Twelve in Vietnam: May 24

24 May,
AM: Arrival Hue station at 8am.
Transfer to hotel.
The rest of morning will be visit to Imperial Citadel.
PM: Boat trip along Perfume river to visit Ming Mang mausoleum and Thien Mu pagoda and Dong Ba market.

The train to Hue is a dive. Ken says this is much closer to how the Vietnamese really travel; I say "no thank you." It's not one single thing: herky-jerky motion of the train, the non-functioning AC, the blaring loudspeaker (a form of torture?) or the grimly grimy berths and dubious linens or the sullen, imperious staff...but put this all together with the toilet which consists of a hole in the floor of the train, and you have a recipe for true grodiness.

We find that there is a (relatively much nicer) toilet with an actual seat in it in the car next door, and I go to investigate. As I am washing my hands, I hear a loud grating noise. Hmm.... I try the door. It won't open. I try is locked. I am trapped in the loo. I try knocking on the door, calling out, to no avail. For the next ten minutes I alternate between tapping out an SOS with my chapstick on the metal door and calling out, "Help! I am trapped in the the toilet!!!" but the noise from the train prevents me from being heard. It is really hot and the sweat pours from my face. Surely one of my party must figure out I am missing... or perhaps they will find my body days from now, a victim of heat exhaustion, or terminal grodiness. "If only she had not drunk the water!" Tragedy in the Loo: film at eleven. The innate humor of the situation keeps me from despair....after all, someone has to come by...

another five minutes pass and I go for the big guns, banging against the door with my foot. Finally the door opens and an enraged train official is on the other side, yelling at me angrily in Vietnamese. I yell back: "The door was locked!" He is not mollified. I give up and trek back to my cabin to tell the sorry tale. I use the hole in the floor for the rest for the trip, which is not much better.

And then, finally, when we reach our clean, luxurious hotel in Hue, it is like Heaven. Absolute heaven.


FranIAm said...

I am speechless!

Padre Mickey said...

Hey, are you still in Viet Nam? When will you return home? Just wondering. . .

Caminante said...

There's the scene in the 1976 French film (Truffaud), 'L'Argent de poche' where the little boy is trapped in the loo and can't figure out how to unlock the door and everyone is yelling from the other side to look for the little butterfly (the knob) and turn it. Finally someone breaks down the door because by that point the kid has had a total melt-down.