Tuesday, 4 January 2011


Tuesday 4th January 2011

MP3 track of the day: Say hello, wave goodbye - David Grey

Weather: Sunny in Bangkok

I didn't want to get up at the time my alarm clock instructed me to. I contemplated missing my train so that another day with Mike, Stef and Barbara-Anne could commence. I got ready and left the guesthouse. Due to it not being very hot I decided to once more become a proper backpacker and walk the twenty minutes or so, with my backpack, to the train station instead of getting another taxi … I had the time.

I Arrived at the station a little tired and hot; I sat down, looked at the departure screen, and was relieved that currently my train didn't have any delays. The waiting area within the station was huge and quite dirty. A massive concourse with two rows of orange chairs either side of an isle, with shops encircling the area, wasn't massively exciting but it was my surroundings. To make matters worse some old woman stood in the isle, near to where I was sitting, and just started talking randomly in Thai. She went on and on about something or other and that would have been fine if she didn't come and sit on the row infront of me and continue yapping … total nutter.

I awaited until twenty minutes until my train was due to leave before heading to the platform. The train before mine was still occupying the area and so I had to wait for it to leave. Once it had departed my train arrived and I found my air-conditioned carriage pretty easily. Once on-board I found my seat, again no issue there; I sat down, had breakfast and noticed a dead bug on the seat next to me. The bug soon got removed from it's location but it did make me a little nervous of my surroundings. Looking around the carriage the place had seen better days; the seats where dirty and broken, the curtains a very black shade of blue and all-in-all not a pleasant environment. I dreaded to think what the toilet was like and all of a sudden Romanian trains didn't seem too bad.

I sat down waiting for the train to leave the station, which it did so, at 8:50am (the Japanese wouldn't put up with this). As we left the station I looked out of the window and it wasn't long until I saw something scurry along the windowsill and into a crack within the inner carriage wall … this is going to be a very long journey I thought.

The view out of the window was pretty good; as soon as we headed out of the urban area we arrived in Thailand's agricultural heartland. The inner Thailand plains is a vast area of land with endless rice fields, which were extremely healthy looking. Viewing the bright patch-work squares of green, that went far into the distance, you could be mistaken for thinking you where in a country a lot more advanced than Thailand. It was at this point that the seat next to me became occupied by another traveler; a Danish girl (what a shocker), called Lea from the row behind, asked if she could sit next to me due to her chair behind being broken … no problem, I said. She said down and we chatted for quite a while about traveling and where we were going etc.

After an hour or so an awkward silence fell upon us as we both tried extremely hard to find something else to talk about. Admitting defeat she went back to her music and I stared out of the window, still healthy rice crops dominated the view. It was now time for lunch; I was surprised to find that, just like on an airplane, meals where included within my 611 baht (twelve pounds) ticket. The stewardess, not with the same etiquette as the Japanese rail personnel, handed out a meal to all the guests within my carriage. I opened my shelf, from the back of the seat in front of me, to find it broken. I therefore received my meal and placed it on my lap. looking at the microwavable meal infront of me I had seen better; opening the lid a huge waft of steam rolled into my face before I could see what lay before me … rice and chicken, standard stuff. The food smelt okay so I started to eat the contents however I didn't even come close to finishing it before I decided that I had eaten enough.

With no pudding I stared out of the window again; the terrain was starting to change as we approached the northern mountains of Thailand. Rice fields had given way to long grasses, trees and sheer rock faces. The terrain was very beautiful and I stared out of the window looking at what lay before me. I was concentrating on what was happening outside so much that I didn't even notice Lea switch seats with one of her friends; I now had a new Danish girl to talk to, Josefine. The conversation went along the same lines as the one with Lea however, for some reason, with Josefine we were able to hold the conversation for much longer.

The sun was setting below the mountains which gave the views a stunning fiery orange colour; Josefine went to see if she could get a photo from the front of the carriage where as I just stared out of the window … it was very beautiful. It was now 6pm and with the sun set, and still three hours left to go, Josfine and I decided to play cards where she taught me a game called 'casino' and I taught her 'Yaneeve'. The time just flew and soon the train pulled into Chang Mai, thirty minutes late.

The four of us had already decided to take a taxi; the girls wanted to be dropped off within town where as I needed to go through town and out the other side. As we walked we attracted other backpackers like a magnet and soon eight of us approached a taxi driver with our requirements; seven of them wanted to be dropped off in town and then I would carry on alone to 'Spicythai backpackers'. The guy wanted 300 baht however we got it down to 200. Our bags where put on the roof of his vehicle, which was a little disconcerting. The ride was okay however due to my height I couldn't really see where we where going due to the windows being so low.

It wasn't long before the driver stopped in town, however the girls weren't happy with the location and asked him to carry on. After another ten minutes the driver stopped and the girls, now happy, got off; they all passed me the money for their ride and I would pay the driver at the end. I waved them goodbye as I headed off. Counting the money the girls had actually paid for the entire journey giving me a free ride.

There was one local to drop off before the driver made his way to my accommodation. It took a very long time to get to my place which became a little disconcerting when I thought about how I would venture back into town tomorrow. Eventually the driver dropped me off, I gave him the 200 baht that we had agreed however he now wanted 250 baht. No translation was needed for my response and he soon 'jogged on' without getting the additional fifty baht.

As soon as I arrived at 'Spicythai backpackers' I was immediately chatting to people. Outside the guesthouse there where two girls on hammocks who directed me into the building. I met a Scottish guy on reception and he gave me a quick tour of the place. The guesthouse is basically a converted house and the 'vibe' emerging from the place reminded me off the hostel in Juneau, Alaska … we where all here together.

By the time I had dropped my stuff of in my room I had spoken to around ten different backpackers and all was great. I headed back to the common room where I found 'The Beach' playing on the TV, free sweets in a large glass jar and loads of people chatting … far from town or not, I'm going to like it here.

I couldn't believe that it was midnight before I went to bed; on the bed below me was a nice Aussie girl who asked me a million questions about everything under the sun. However she had been on a longer journey that I and so it didn't take long for us all to drift off to sleep.

Tomorrow laundry followed by town … though need to work out how to get there.

Toodle Pip!

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