Sunday, 5 November 2017

Rolling on Royal Rail again. Right into what's left of Typhoon Damrey.


WTF is that noise ???

My alarm clock?????

NO, because I've been up since 4 am (traveler's excitement), so the noise must be the loud annoying dance music which must inundate the entire friggin town.

An e-mail from my German/Viet neighbour confirms that Phu Yen Province WAS HIT by Damrey, the strongest Typhoon to hit Vietnam in 16 years (Dumb Donald) but that besides some freshly planted trees everything is still where it should be.

Looking at the latest forecast, the bloody thing should be passing right over me around noon, so it should be a rainy train ride, but so far I've noticed NOTHING related to a Typhoon, except maybe cloudy skies yesterday afternoon.

OOOH.  I got up at 4 am but after packing and getting ready, I am unable to stay upright on my feet at 5:00.   NEED NAP.
That nap only makes it worse.  I wobble to reception (broken fan blades clandestinely being smuggled out in my backpack) surrender my room key, the gate opens for me to enter the street (am I getting out of prison here?), and I walk downhill at 5:55 trying to keep my eyes open and trying to locate a TukTuk.
I find one rather quickly.  $7 to the train station.  Steep, but I’m in no shape to cling to the back of a motorbike in my state.

We reach the train station at 6:15  

The view has a colour palette that reminds me of old Master paintings.  
You don't get that with CONCRETE !

 The locomotive and the passenger cars keeps going back and forth and back and forth to arrange the various other cars within the train. 

This one will go to the very back eventually:

LOL, so THIS is what Time-Traveling is like ;-)
kiddo heard the train's whistle ;-)
The dogs seem to have an ulterior motive....
Look at this little thing trying to look all cute ....
5 minutes later I see this handful of a dog spread on its back in the most INDECENT manner with a tough-looking motorcycle tourist rubbing its belly ;-)
Bloody Digital Photography.  
There are parts of the railway car showing THROUGH her body !
Get used to it:  Pictures DO LIE !

 We finally get to board at 7:15.  The train was supposed to leave at 7:00 but the bloody thing keeps going back and forth for about a mile.  Got to attach the flat loading cars that the pick-up-trucks sit on, etc etc.

8:00 The train moves in the correct direction and FINALLY does NOT move backwards after a few minutes. 
We’re on our way !
I didn’t have breakfast and didn’t bring any water or food on this trip.  The first stop at Kampot should be 20 minutes long and they should have everything there.  But I’m still relieved when I discover the Royal Railway employee crouching down in one corner of one car next to several hot water boilers, which constitutes his soup stand.  The standard Asian noodle soups in a paper cup for 3000 Riel.
Different from the last time I was on this train with Zu, the conductors no longer voice their opposition to people smoking in the semi-outside areas where the train cars are coupled together.  Au contraire, the uniformed train accompanying guard/soldier/ conductor? is mostly sitting with a cigarette in an open door himself.  FAB, this train journey just lost another one of the previously imagined unpleasant aspects.

The train is rattling towards Phnom Penh at an average of maybe 30 km/hour. 90% of the passengers are Khmer families.  Fathers seem to be more absent than mothers but groups of 2 or 3 gorgeous kids in each family are everywhere.

Wow! Blogger's video rendition has improved. 
A moment later he starts laughing. 
Mutual relief that one is not the only one hanging out an open door on a moving train !

So I'm smoking (!) while hanging out the open door (!) of a moving train (!) with NO ONE telling me to desist from doing so and that they only have MY best interests at heart.  

Oh what a RELIEF !  

Big Nanny stayed behind in Canada !
No Fire.  Just Smoke.  The rolling stock and train engine were built in the 1960s !

Rice fields
The train passes below the casino ruin perched high up on Bokor Mountain.  Zu and I rode a scooter up there only 11 months ago.  Looking at the map, I have to laugh.  I’m only about 20 km straight-line distance from Phu Quoc, the Vietnamese Island where Joanna is waiting for my arrival in roughly 4 days.  Borders make travel difficult sometimes ;-(.

Kampot Station.
 Many more people enter the train. There is not really any room to sit for them.  I head out for a smoke and buy a WHOLE BAG of Vanilla baked thingies AND a bottle of water for 3000 Riel (US$ 0.75).

We’re rolling again.
For some reason (most likely some idiot playing with the remote), the A/C is no longer operational.  The HEAT from the outside slowly starts creeping into the cramped compartment.    But someone eventually figures it out.     Someone must have also figured out that the compartments washroom didn’t have any water available, because during my next pee stop, the toilet flushes again.   

Takeo Station.
As the forecast predicted, it’s raining.   We’re driving into the area that is under what is now Tropical Storm Damrey.  

I need to get off this train.   That’s almost 7 hours since I arrived at the train station and 5 hours that I’ve actually spent in a moving train.  Enough. I can’t wait to reach Phnom Penh.


The toilet is unusable again (someone left a deposit without realizing there was no flushing water AGAIN) and by bones are SCREAMING to get off this rattling monster of a train.  

Same thing every time.  The first hour on this train is great, the last 4 and more hours are torture.   But it beats doing the trip in a packed minibus on pot-holed and busy roads !

The train finally gets to Phnom Penh at 14:45.  Life will be better now ;-)

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