Thailand · Travel Tales

An overnight train ride in Thailand

Totally not for the claustrophobic.
Totally not for the claustrophobic.

9:38 PM, a few kilometers north of Ayutthaya

As I write this, I am on the upper berth of a sleeper train going to Chiang Mai from Bangkok. (I took this train in Ayutthaya, though.) To explain: second-class sleeper trains have two seats facing each other on both sides, but in the evening they magically become double deckers. Since we booked this train quite late, I got the upper berth right beside the corridor connection between this car and the one behind it, so it’s kind of bumpy and I could totally hear the grinding between two cars. This is kind of awesome.

19 hours later

Well, I’ve finally had the longest sleep so far during my stay here in Thailand. Kind of surprising, considering that I sleep very lightly and the train was making lots of bumping and grinding sounds (literally), and that I was quite directly beside the aircon since I was on the upper berth. My companions and I were in different coaches as we booked our tickets late. We’re actually lucky we still got seats.

I was awakened at around midnight only because there were some foreigners who were talking so loudly when they passed through our coach on the way to theirs, since ours is next to the restaurant car. The ones around me were the quietest, though — there was a mother and son, a Japanese couple, and two monks next to our seats. I sat with a Chinese girl whom I shared about a couple of sentences with. It was kind of nice, though, looking at the countryside without needing to say anything to the person in front of you.

I do suggest that you bring the following on a Thai train ride: a jacket, a blanket or sarong (I found that the blanket they gave me wasn’t enough), earplugs, and an eye mask. Because of the eye mask, I slept well beyond sunrise. I was jolted awake only when I heard metal grinding around me — everybody else was arranging their beds so that the beds got arranged back to seats.

For breakfast, I went alone to the restaurant car. The Europeans around me got more smiles from the staff, while the staff looked at me with what seemed to be puzzled looks, as though they can’t decide if I were Thai or a foreigner. I somewhat like it when I just shut up and thus blend in. I ate my overpriced breakfast in peace while watching a recording of a concert. It was of a guy singing while ladies in midribs danced around him. Crappy TV exists here too, apparently.

So I’m in Chiang Mai right now. I kind of like the place already. It has the charm of a city or a big town in the Philippine provinces — people are friendlier and the food is cheaper. It doesn’t stress me out as Manila and Bangkok do. We’re staying here for a bit, taking our time, probably doing a bit of work (?!).

At the Chiang Mai train station.
At the Chiang Mai train station.
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