Saturday, August 08, 2009

Train travel

Surprisingly, a large part of this trip has been by rail, in both
Japan and Vietnam. I've been reading "The Great Railway Bazzar" and
came to the Vietnam chapter just as we were boarding for the second
night on the train. There is something exciting about travelling that
way, and glimpsing the hundreds of years of history wrapped up in the
adventure.

In Japan, I had the trains described to me as tin cans that go fast
and do as advertised - but not much else. In Vietnam the jolting and
thumping of the old line holds a lot more charm (but at a fraction of
the speed take much longer). Thinking about how the line was built by
the French, destroyed in the war, and is now being revitalized to
bring tourists to the remote regions is a brief histroy lesson in how
the country has changed in the last 100 years.

While I am not big into meeting other travellers on trains (to be
honest, I like a berth with a lock I can control), they alsoser e as a
chance to glimpse the culture of who is travelling: in Japan it was a
mix of business people, local tourists, and a very few foreigners.
Vietnam was almost entirely tourists, with the guide explaining that
most locals can't afford the $20 ticket.

The moments like these, whereyou're not spending hours at airports
worrying about security, and are seeing something unique are my
favourite moments of travel - and make me understand the idea of
travelling to travel, not to reach a destination.

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