Hanoi, May 12th 2010
I got off the car and Mr. Duan pointed to the right and told me that it was the entrance to the station. He seemed about to leave. I asked him to usher me inside. He didn't get me. I had to repeat my sentence again and again, and then gesture with my fingers to make him understand that I wanted him to go with me inside. The station didn't look like what I thought would have look like. Where should I have my ticket checked? Where's the signs of which platform my train would be on? Everything seemed confusing.
At last my begging on Mr. Duan succeeded. He walked with me into the station and it turned out that he himself didn't really know. He asked one person after another. I said to myself, if he himself doesn't know the way, how would I know??
Mr. Duan talked to a woman in a uniform. At the end of their short conversation, Mr Duan took out his wallet and gave a five thousand dong note. He got a two thousand note change... not so sure, though. Anyway, he got some changes. I asked him how much did he spent. He did not answer.
We croessed several railroads. I wish Mr. Duan had walk slower and dragged my travel bag more gently or just let me take it myself. I wonder whether he was upset because he thought I was making him work overtime? He didn't seem like the Mr. Duan that had accompanied me the whole day.
As a matter of fact, when I ordered for the car with Mr. Manh from Sunshine Travel, I already mentioned clearly that I would need a car and a driver to take me around Hanoi City starting from Noi Bai Airport for pick up until the time I have to get on the train. He also was the one who booked my ticket and suggested SP3 Train that leaves at 21:50. But, we were already at the station at 20:20. I'm not breaking the deal, am I? I wouldn't either even if I had asked Mr. Duan for another round after the previous destination, Al Fresco's.
We eventually got by the side of my train. He spoke to a woman standing by the train and then explained to me that the lights inside the trains has been out, but I may wait inside if I would like. Of course I didn't like the idea of waiting alone inside a dark train. I said I'd wait outside. I made sure twice that my ticket was valid and that the train will leave on schedule. Mr. Duan told me not to worry.
I took out a twenty thousand and a five thousand note from my handbag. I gave the twenty thousand note to Mr Duan and said, "This is for you," and the other five thousand note, "This is for the entrance ticket you paid just now."
Guess what. His face completely changed! He gave me a big smile, said thank you, and walked away without any haste like when we were entering in.
I stood for a couple of minutes on the platform which was rather dark. I wondered, "Doesn't a train station of a capital city have an appropriate place to wait??"
I walked to the opposite direction of where I had come from. My custom: explore the area to kill time.
Yes, wow! It didn't look like the place where Mr. Duan dropped me off. There was a broad lobby with air condition. There were some lockets with the destinations and cost written pretty clear above it. The existing trains' schedule was also displayed on a screen. Ah... I see. Hanoi Station is like Bandung Station (in West Java, Indonesia). It has two entrances. One is the main entrance which faces Kebon Kawung Street and the other one is rather messy, faces Kebon Jati Street. I wondered (again), "Why hadn't Mr. Duan dropped me off at the main entrance? If he had, I wouldn't have asked him to usher me.
I found a Lotteria next to the station. That's cool. I wondered (again), "Why Lotteria always have green tea ice cream on its menu, but it's never available in any Lotteria I've been in Vietnam?"
I spotted an electric power socket. Wow! So I ordered for a Milo in replace of that green tea ice cream which I thought might be available in this Lotteria.
To my surprise, there was a Western tourist guy sleeping on the sofa seat. He literally lied down on the seat. I took a seat on the opposite side, pulled the seat closer to the electric power socket, pulled my mobile phone cord through under an advertisement panel, and plugged it . The waiters didn't seem to bother at all.
I sat and pulled my legs up, sipped my Milo, and let my mobile phone enjoy its "meal". Hah... this IS comfortable.