Monday, March 17, 2014

An Overnight Train from Bangkok

My Train to Surat Thani

One of the things that I really wanted to do while I was here in Thailand was experience the overnight train. I wasn't brave enough to try 3rd class, so I bought a seat in 2nd class instead. The only real difference is that this seat reclined and the 3rd class didn't. Armed with my snacks and plenty of water, we boarded the rickety looking train to Surat Thani. It was scheduled to take 12 hours, but I was expecting more because I was told by several sources that the trains are never on time. I spent at least the first hour glued to the window trying to take pictures. It was wide open, but luckily there was a panel of glass that that could be pulled up when it got too cold. Yes, I said cold; it got really cold on the train overnight. One of the things it didn't have, however, was an above ground toilet. Sure there was a hole in the train meant to be a toilet, but that was not something I was going to attempt on a moving train. So much for having plenty of water and snacks.
Me in the Bangkok train station

The lady with the chicken
The car I was in was filled with mostly Thai people which I really enjoyed because I was surrounded by the language, but mostly it was an uneventful ride. The train was very slow, loud and stopped often, and eventually everyone fell asleep even me.  There was one very cool thing that happened at both the beginning and the end of the ride. When the train stopped at the various stations, people would get on with all sorts of food to sell. I wasn't brave enough to try any of it, but it was so much fun to watch the ladies walk up and down the aisles. I particularly liked this lady with the heaping pile of fried chicken.  I didn't sleep much, but I was very happy to be awake during the sunrise watching the countryside pass by.  The view had changed dramatically from city scene to lush vegetation with skinny cows and small farms dotting the landscape. There were white birds swooping through palm trees of all sizes some short and fat, others tall and slender. The smell of burning garbage wafted through the air. And the sun was a ball of fire inching above the horizon. It was going to be a beautiful day.

Here's a little video of the beginning and the end of the train ride. Feels like you're there doesn't it?