A Train to Da Nang

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  • A Train to Da Nang 00:00
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After around two weeks of doing soundscape research in Northern Vietnam (Hanoi, Ninh Binh, Ha Giang, Yen Minh and other cities nearby), I decide to move south. My final destination is Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City. But before that I wanted to spend some days in Da Nang, a city in the middle of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

The distance between Hanoi dan Ho Chi Minh City by train is quite far, about 1726km. Side note: this route was built by the French colonial government for almost fourty years from 1899-1936 to connect North Vietnam and South Vietnam. However, the distance between Hanoi and Da Nang is more or less half of the distance to Ho Chi Minh City, which  is 780km. So, stopping by to Da Nang seems to be the smart choice for me.

The question is why ride the train? Isn’t taking an airplane from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City more fast and practical? The answer is because I wanted to hear and record the sounds of a long-distance train ride in Vietnam. The second reason is because I want to see the view around the train route that divides this country that is very famous in the Reunification Express Train route (which connected North Vietnam and South Vietnam in the past). Lastly, I wanted to record the soundscape in Da Nang, Hoi An, and around that area.

The train ride from Hanoi to Da Nang takes around 17 hours on a sleeper train. I left from Hanoi on the 19:30 train and was schedule to arrive in Da Nang station the next day at 11:08. The train was pretty comfortable for the long trip equipped with a mattress, not a chair.

Long story short, this is the recording of the wagon I was in. I took this recording when I woke up at night, and could not seem to go back to sleep. Most of the passengers had already fallen asleep. There were only a few left still conversing. I walk to the linking arm of the train and recorded the sound of wagon’s machine. It has a very noisy sound, but the sound will be muted when we are inside.

From what I see, this train is quite old. Unfortunately, I do not have the information regarding the locomotives here in Vietnam. The sound of metal scratching against each other sounds very unique. These sounds carry many stories of the passengers inside. Every day, this ‘train song’ passing by from north to south of this country and vice versa. Long hours of travel give us the opportunity to reminisce.

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