We were on the overnight train to Hanoi in a sleeper car with four bunks. We had the bottom two beds and drifted off to sleep before anyone joined us. In the middle of the night, the door opened and a couple walked in. I was out of it; I barely opened my eyes and saw a blurry vision of a young woman staring down at me. Only her eyes were visible; She wore a hat and a colorful face mask over her mouth and nose; A bizarre sight in the middle of the night. Almost all Vietnamese women wear these masks for the pollution and to keep the sun off their faces. Opposite to western views of beauty, in Vietnamese culture it is desirable for women to have pale, white skin.
She was freaking me out, at one point she sat down on the foot of my bed, still staring down at me; was I dreaming? Luckily, her husband returned with the conductor, they had the wrong room and they hurried off. Moments later, another young couple with a baby entered. She quickly tossed the baby on the bunk above me and scrambled up after with ease. The husband jumped on the bed above Helen, and despite a few loud cries from the baby, I quickly fell back asleep.