Counting down for the sleeper train to Chiang Mai
Last day in Bangkok before taking the sleeper train to Chiang Mai tonight. I slept poorly, so I have little energy to wander all day in this busy capital. Anyway, after breakfast, I head to Chinatown. Once again, I jump on the boat, the easiest and cheapest means of transport here.
Narrow and crowded alleys in Chinatown
Chinatown is as expected; with small, narrow alleys, crowded, and full of stalls. You can find everything here, from ordinary consumer products to all kinds of exotic snacks; not that it will make you hungry, unless you’re crazy about, for example, locusts on a satay stick. The whole area gives me a déjà-vu feeling, so I back off to the hotel after an hour and a half.
Arriving way to early at the train station
After a refreshing rice-vegetable dish, our taxi arrives at the hotel. As traffic jams can be massive in Bangkok, we leave well in time, but today the congestion is not too severe. We arrive at the Hua Lamphong train station in less than 10 minutes, about an hour early.
Cacophony at Hua Lamphong train station
Entering the huge departure hall is an experience in itself. There are several hundred chairs, surrounded on the side with food stalls, massage stands, and even a CD store. Karaoke video clips are shown on a large screen on the right side of the hall. The music played at the CD store combined with the acoustics of this vast space produces an enormous cacophony.
Boarding the sleeper train to Chiang Mai
At about 7:30 pm we can enter the platform to board our night train to Chiang Mai. As every wagon has a number, we find our reserved spots without any effort. Shortly after departure, a train staff member comes to ask if we want to eat something. I opt for a menu consisting of tom yam soup and rice with an omelet. The soup is full of spicy peppers which I wisely do not eat, but all in all the dish tastes delicious. The rice and egg are edible, but that says it all.
Ample space in the sleeping compartments
After dinner, as this is a sleeper train to Chiang Mai, we are made clear we are supposed to go to sleep at 10 o’clock, to my standards, too early. The staff folds the seats apart and covers the sleeping benches with sheets, pillows, and blankets. I end up sleeping in the upper part, whereas the bottom compartment offers a bit more space and above all, a window, which is nice when you wake up in the morning to enjoy the view outside. Anyway, in both sleeping compartments, there is hardly any space to stretch your legs. So it comes as no surprise that I have a difficult time catching sleep.
Rattling noise all night
Moreover, it turns out there is a metal bar attached to the ceiling, close to where I am positioned, which produces a rattling noise all night; even though some papers were put in between the bar and the roof, that doesn`t help to reduce the clacking sound. Combine that with the curtains of the upper sleeper compartment to not completely dim the light, which stays on all night, well the result is clear. I turn over at least 150 times during the night, and my back starts hurting more and more. This sleeper train to Chaing Mai turns out to be a painful experience for me.
Observing the beautiful green hills of Northern-Thailand
At a quarter past six in the morning, I really can`t stand the pain any longer, so I get up. I pass the time observing the beautiful green hills of Northern-Thailand while standing in the interconnection of 2 wagons. I am hungry, but since I do not have any seat because the others are still sleeping, I cannot order breakfast. My mood goes down. I can`t blame the others for pitting, as it is me who is having a back and sleep problem. Anyway, I wanted to take the sleeper train to Chiang Mai, and as initially planned, after two days in Bangkok, I made it.
No pick up at Chiang Mai railway station
Upon arrival at the Chiang Mai railway station, there is nobody from the guesthouse waiting to pick me up. Nonetheless, from all sides touts approach us offering to bring us to several hotels. When I make a call to my guesthouse, they confirm to send a tuk-tuk, which arrives 10 minutes later.
Spacious room with outworn furniture
The guesthouse staff is aware of my arrival. The check-in is rudimentary; name and passport number, plus nationality and room number. I get a spacious room, but quite basic and with outworn furniture. The shower does not seem to work, but for now, I can do with a tap and a bowl. I am considering to move to another guesthouse, closer to the center of the city, after my two reserved nights.