Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Transit Breakdown

[Part of the Thailand adventure]
Trains are an interesting part of the travel adventure in Thailand. During our first few days, Jia and I took a short ride north of Bangkok to the ancient capital of Ayutthaya. On the way there, the train was 40 minutes late. We soon discovered on that trip that our seats were not reserved, but rather a bit of luck. Anyone travelling further along the train line was given a reserved seat. So, if you were unlucky enough to pick the wrong seat at the Bangkok station, you had to stand the hour and a half to Ayutthaya. We were, of course, not lucky on that journey.

Our next rail adventure was far northward to Chiang Mai on an overnight sleeper. We paid a little extra to get air conditioning rather than a fan. We regretted it a bit as we froze through the night. Jia had it better than I did as she had the lower bunk in which no light came through. Our car's lights beamed on through the journey and into my eyes. That, combined with the freezing air and the car door next to feet and continuously opened and closed every 15 minutes, didn't make for a restful ride. It also didn't help that I couldn't stretch my legs out fully (and I'm only 5'9").

It was on the trip back to Bangkok that we encountered our more serious problems. We waited for our 5:55 pm sleeper train. We figured it was just late. At 6:30 I told Jia to ask someone about the train as another was expected to arrive at this time to head for the same station. I was a little shocked and angry when she came back and said our train was cancelled.

We went over to the ticket office to make sure of the situation. "The train fell off the track," the man in the window said. I was confused, I didn't want to believe it. "So, what do we do?" I asked.
We were told we could either catch a late bus or the last train for Bangkok. The only problem was, there were no sleepers. "But the seats recline a lot," we were assured.

We should've stayed in Chiang Mai. We waited another three and a half hours for the train. We sat across the street at a food vendor selling kai yang (grilled chicken) just outside the 7-11 where we bought a couple beers in the hopes of sleeping through the night. On the train we struggled to sleep with seats that barely reclined.

We arrived in Bangkok late in the morning and hopped in a tuk-tuk to the eastern bus station and our more comfortable bus that would take us to the ferry to Ko Samet.


JA Huber said...

Sounds like a miserable experience, but I still wish there were more trains here in the States.

Matthew said...

I always wanted to ride a train cross crountry. One of these years the US will wise up on train travel.