Monday, October 15 – On the Train, Vietnam

I actually didn’t sleep too badly. I woke up a lot, but the motion of the train puts me right back to sleep. There is lots to look at this morning – the countryside is nice. There are even "mountains."*  I probably won’t take a bunch of pictures though… they just wouldn’t capture it.
There is a downside to not speaking the language today.  Everyone got breakfast except me. Next meal I’ll try to communicate. For now I have water, bread, and bananas** from the hotel. Having bread and water to start the day reminds me of traveling with Woody in Cambodia.  They have the same wonderful bread here. Like Cambodia, Vietnam was once occupied by the French.***
So, back to yesterday.  The tour started late, but it was good once it started. The tour guide’s name was "Hi", and then he made the joke, "Hi, Hi."  He was very funny because he had a ridiculous accent and said everything with a straight face. Things like, "My boss give me special name. It was "Fat Man". So full name is "Hi Fat Man". Now I’m not so fat. but still ugly."  Or, "This a mechanic. All bus in Vietnam have mechanic follow the bus. I hope today is his day off."
Hi was a good tour guide – he knew a lot of facts which I forget and will look up later on Wikipedia. The temple/cathedral was cool and I would like to read more about the religion.
Okay, gramps and the boy aren’t so cool any more. The kid dumped phở in their bed. Fine. But in "cleaning" it up, gramps got noodles all over the floor. Not cool.****
Not much to say about the temple – the pictures will do that. Next we went to the tunnels. These were much more strange and interesting. The area was very heavily bombed and attacked by Americans but they couldn’t flush the communists out of the extensive tunnel system they had made (almost literally "flushed" – they even tried pouring water into the tunnels – the same way my moms kills ants in their hill).  At one point we crawled through one of the tunnels. This is the third set of communist tunnels I’ve climbed through – I wonder how many people can say that? First, the tunnels from North to South Korea under the DMZ.  Second, the Underground City in China.  And now these.  Side note: I just killed two big bugs on the floor. EW. I hope none show up in my luggage later!*****  The tunnel we went through was very small and ill-lit. They told us they made it twice as tall and wide as it originally was so it would be "safe" for tourists. They also make sure there aren’t snakes in there anymore. Even so, when going through I had to squat-walk, my knees fully bent and my hands on my knees. Even so, my back was still covered in dirt from the roof of the tunnel. At one point it dipped down sharply enough that we turned around to scoot down it, feet first and along our bottoms. I can’t even begin to imagine what it would have been like in there when it was wet, crawling with snakes and mosquitoes, in full combat gear while the Americans rained bombs down. They said that malaria and "intestinal parasites" were a problem. The Viet Cong were also ingenious and cruel booby trap makers. Also, they scavenged weapons and un-detonated bombs (which they reconstructed into land mines and such) to build up their arsenal. Pretty smart, I think. Maybe the guerrilla commies deserved to win that one. Oh wait – they did.
*The quotation marks are me being a snobby Canadian. If they ain’t as majestic as the fucking Rockies, they ain’t fucking "mountains".
**Before, I disliked any banana that was even slightly squishy or discoloured. Now I hate bananas.  I won’t eat them for a long, long time.
***And I was apparently preoccupied by the French occupying a country and then leaving behind great bread and coffee.
****Especially since that day I had to kill two good sized bugs in the berth. SICK.
*****Looks like I was I was a little footnote happy with the bugs. It really grossed me out though.

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