19 Feb   Goodbye Chiang Mai  19 Feb
  Thailand  
A river runs through it   21 Feb  21 Feb 
 
 
 
 
 
The train to Bangkok
20 Feb 2019
The train to Bangkok    20 Feb 2019
  Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Thailand   
S M L
 
 
 
 
 

To get to Bangkok we took the 8:50 out of Chiang Mai, the #8 train. The small, air-conditioned three-car train takes about ten and a half hours to make the 700 km trip. The train only offers second-class seats. There isn't anywhere to walk to, no restaurant car or observatory car. The ticket includes a meal though you might, no you should, in fact you must bring something to eat to tide you over till Bangkok.

The trip is long and not particularly comfortable. Despite its promising appearance in the website photos the train has seen better days. The seat padding is worn out. Paul's seat kept spontaneously reclining. The tiny toilet is a hole in the floor. And the poor train slows and struggles at the least incline, which didn't inspire confidence we'd make our destination. But we did. The little train brought us to Bangkok.

I've left the best, or rather the worst, for last. The meal. I could describe it as worthy of a Survivor challenge. It appeared to be an invitation to food poisoning. It made Air Canada's offerings haute cuisine. Ha ha, I can laugh now.

We were served rice and two mackerels, one sweet and one spicy, all pre packaged so, said Paul, it must be safe. First off, looking at the local rivers I don't think I want to eat any fish. I won't show you the actual mackerel or you'll think I needed my head examined for having eaten it, which I did. It was very spicy, the crunchy chunks of fish absolutely disgusting looking but I was hungry and I wanted it out of my way asap as I also feared the nasty brown fish sauce would spill on me—the rickety tray tables looked ready to go—and then I'd smell of fish all day. I'm writing this, oh 12 hours later so I guess my decision was ok, no signs of illness. Yet.

As to the scenery, which is one reason to take a train versus a plane, it was interesting for awhile. Leaving Chiang Mai one got occasional glimpses of the outlines of hills, the smog obscuring details. We saw lots of birds, rice paddys, fields of sugar cane, water buffalo, cows, fields of solar panels, temples everywhere, big hilltop buddhas, rice fields burned, and endless little villages.

We were glad when we pulled into Bangkok, in the dark night. We availed ourselves of the train station bathroom and then walked out into the car-packed Bangkok street where we made death-defying runs to cross. Then we looked for our curious little hotel. But that's a story for tomorrow.

The from-the-train photos kind of suck because they are taken through dirty reflect-y glass and the train is moving, albeit slowly, but I figure sometimes a crappy pic is better than none.

 
 
 
 
#8 train  
 
 
 
 
#8 train  
 
 
 
 
#8 train  
 
 
 
Special and Express are relative terms  
 
As you may have noticed by now all signage is in Thai and English. Based on my experience English really is the international language, which is good for me as it's all I know, save a little Spanish and French.
 
 
 
 
Special and Express are relative terms  
 
As you may have noticed by now all signage is in Thai and English. Based on my experience English really is the international language, which is good for me as it's all I know, save a little Spanish and French.
 
 
 
 
Special and Express are relative terms  
 
As you may have noticed by now all signage is in Thai and English. Based on my experience English really is the international language, which is good for me as it's all I know, save a little Spanish and French.
 
 
 
The #8 train  
 
It looks nice in the photos. Just don't sit down. And bring a jacket, the temp varies from frigid to warm.
 
 
 
 
The #8 train  
 
It looks nice in the photos. Just don't sit down. And bring a jacket, the temp varies from frigid to warm.
 
 
 
 
The #8 train  
 
It looks nice in the photos. Just don't sit down. And bring a jacket, the temp varies from frigid to warm.
 
 
 
#8 train  
 
 
 
 
#8 train  
 
 
 
 
#8 train  
 
 
 
Trees seen from train  
 
 
 
 
Trees seen from train  
 
 
 
 
Trees seen from train  
 
 
 
Distant hill  
 
 
 
 
Distant hill  
 
 
 
 
Distant hill  
 
 
 
View from train  
 
 
 
 
View from train  
 
 
 
 
View from train  
 
 
 
Mackeral, mackerel, and rice  
 
Seen here lunch looks, well, ok. Just don't open them.
 
 
 
 
Mackeral, mackerel, and rice  
 
Seen here lunch looks, well, ok. Just don't open them.
 
 
 
 
Mackeral, mackerel, and rice  
 
Seen here lunch looks, well, ok. Just don't open them.
 
 
 
View from train  
 
 
 
 
View from train  
 
 
 
 
View from train  
 
 
 
View from train  
 
 
 
 
View from train  
 
 
 
 
View from train  
 
 
 
 19 Feb   Goodbye Chiang Mai  19 Feb
  Thailand  
A river runs through it   21 Feb  21 Feb