Without Google Translate, We’d Still Be On The Train Tracks

“There is no one left on the train” said my father as my mother and I looked up from our game of cards. 

We looked at him weirdly and then got out of our cabin to inspect the situation. 

Indeed, the train was empty. As if Murder on the Orient Express had just happened en masse, and in the game of “whodunnit” the only suspects would be “Ms Short, and Mr & Mrs Parents.” 

Luckily, before we could fully contemplate our fate: Vietnamese prison or endless days walking along a section of track whose GPS coordinates were stubbornly not communicating with Google – two men appeared. 

They said something in Vietnamese, obviously we did not understand. They typed it into a version of Google Translate, “must get off the train here, take a bus and then get back on the train.”

“So that’s what all those announcements were” said the imaginary cloud bubbles above our heads.

Our rescuers smiled at us as what was happening dawned on us: either the train had broken down, or, part of the track needed to be fixed after the typhoon last week. 

Two seconds later, another English speaking couple (the only other English speaking couple) peered out of their cabin. Our rescuers asked us if we would speak English to them and explain – it was like a giant game of Telephone being played with real telephones – a lot was lost in translation – the couple didn’t want to leave because they had small sleeping children with them. 

Eventually, we all made it off the train, rejoined the rest of our fellow night-train travellers, waited for our bus to arrive, got on the bus and then made it to the next train, where luckily, eight hours later, someone knocked on our door and told us to get out – at, luckily, the right stop. 

Goodbye, Empty train: our first mode of transport on the night route from Nha Trang to Da Nang, Vietnam

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