Arching her back and thrusting her chest forward, the Danish girl shot me a wry look from the corner of her eye, “yah but I was dissapointed, they wouldn’t let me break off the head myself”. It might have been just the motion of the minibus as it careered around the heavily potholed road, but I could have swore she began writhing in pleasure on the backseat at the memory of her trip to the snake farm outside Hanoi. The experience apparently culminated in some Temple Of Doom type ritual involving devouring the still beating heart of a live snake.
I briefly trifiled with continuing the suggestive nature of the converation, perhaps adding some Kenneth Williams inspired rejoinder such as “I bet you like a bit of snake inside you” or some such shite but instead I began edging slowly away from her. Anyway, – that’s what she said
I was now in Hue having broken with my prefered means of transport since I was unsure of the extent of the train network in Vietnam, I had joined forces with Swiss Andy and bought a sleeper bus ticket which would eventually carry me down the entire length of country. In the fluorescent half lite horror of the first night journeying from Hanoi to Hue, it was a purchase I soon came to regret. The driver with his hand poised like some striking cobra hovering above the horn played chicken with fate, the old tin can of a bus hurtled its way down the centre of the highway over taking everything in its path. Surprisingly I had enough leg room in my chair/bed/coffin compartment even after shoving my wallet, passport and laptop under my feet for safe keeping. I closed my eyes and tried to blot out the random swerving and lurching from side to side but some found myself shivering in that sickly wheezy chill of an airconditioned cold sweat.
Miraculously I did mange to snatch a few precious fragments of sleep albeit punctuated by disgusting drips of condensed moisture from the cooling compartment overhead. At one stage I awoke to find myself airborne as the bus momentarily left the road thanks to some large unseen object. Swinging my legs over the side of my bunk, I somersaulted out of the upper compartment to stretch my legs. At the last second I manged to grab hold of the opposing row of beds as I noticed something strange on the floor beneath. The aisle, I gasped, it’s a made a people. My foot was dangled in midair, suspended about an inch above the chest of a sleeping Vietnamese man. The space between the beds was crammed full of people sleeping and bags of rice.