A Journey of Surprises: Chiang Mai to Bangkok
It was over 35 years ago when I was last in Bangkok, a first for Tim, and that is where we were heading next after our whistle-stop tour of Chiang Mai. How were we going to make the 688 km journey? Fly? Bus? Train? We chose the latter.
To our surprise, our train journey to Bangkok left 5 minutes early and we chugged out of the station, reached the level crossing, stopped and reversed back to the station. What was that all about? People did get on the train, so perhaps they realised that they left prematurely.
And off we go, now late. We stopped at the crossing and backed to the platform again. Was the train faulty? The train guard didn’t look perturbed though, and the newer passengers looked relieved.
We sat for a while, Tim drifted off to sleep with not a care in the world. Now, 15 minutes late, we left for the third time; and passed the cars waiting at the crossing – Hurrah! We were on our way.
Shortly after we left our train assistant gave us a mung bean paste bun and coffee. It was surprisingly good. We weren’t expecting that; having packed food for our trip.
The eleven-hour journey was through beautiful lush countryside, fields with the odd scarecrow, oxen with white cattle egrets hanging around them, foraging at their feet.
It wasn’t soon before we stopped at our first, of many stations, Lamphun. All the stations were clean and tidy with flowers brightening the platforms and guards in smart sandy coloured uniforms blowing their whistles and waving their green flags.
I sat and made a few notes about our previous Wat day and researched all the many attractions to see in Bangkok, including some weird and many wonderful. Tim still slept.
Occasionally, I would gaze out of the window, noticing farming techniques, such as growing seedlings of crops on top of long mounds with water either side.
Our train assistant came around again, this time with dinner on trays. Luckily there was a choice, so I had mackerel in chilli sauce with my rice and Tim had chicken curry, plus a beaker of water. As I was munching away, the lady sitting in front of me moved suddenly and the whole tray tipped into my lap, runny fishy chilli sauce and water covered me. Oh my!
Tim leapt up and got some toilet roll for me to mop up the water, a pool had formed under my bottom. He got my sarong out of my case and I managed to swap this with my mucky trousers, which he kindly then rinsed the worse of the mess out using the spray next to the toilet.
Settling back down, we continued our peaceful journey, passing by small villages with corrugated huts and later wooden homes on stilts with numerous banana plants and coconut palms, the odd Bodhi and Bean trees dotted about.
Gradually the sun started to set, and we were dazed with a giant ball of red slowly descending before the blackness of night appeared.
Luckily, our Airbnb host suggested that we got out at Sam Sen Station instead of Bangkok, shortening and simplifying our journey. Fifteen minutes later we arrived at our accommodation and grateful that we still had the food we packed for the train.
Day 774 was mainly spent with me writing about Wats and then both of us trawling through stacks of photos to share on Day 772’s blog. What a mammoth task that one was!
In the afternoon, we walked for 20 minutes through a gentrified and quiet suburb of Bangkok to a delightful small café called PM. My Velvet Green healthy smoothie was divine, as was our lunch; somewhat westernised; nice for a change.
We walked to a nearby shopping mall passed The Pearl, “A Green and Intelligent building”. It reminds us of London’s Gherkin. And we were not the only ones. Critics have highlighted the similarities between Hong Kong architects Palmer and Turner and Norman Foster’s designs. Which one do you prefer?
Strolling back to our accommodation, we suddenly heard a massive roar of an engine, like a supped-up motorbike. To our surprise, it was a tuk-tuk. Well, these have certainly changed in the last 35 years!