Thailand: train riding

Thursday, March 24, 2011

We took full advantage of public transportation while in Thailand.  Rather than taking the more costly route of flying between our destinations within the country, we buckled down for train rides of sometimes up to 12 hours. 

Chiang Mai train station
 One of the best upsides to train riding was that we had the chance to enjoy the landscape of the country.  Since we may never have the opporunity to come back - we wanted to see as much as we could in the 2 weeks we had there. 

Trains also gave the opportunity for lots of reading time (for me!)  While on vacation, with all the train time we clocked - I was able to finish two novels and got fairly well read on our Lonely Planet Thailand.  (I read:  Body of Work by Christine Montross which was amazing, informational, and eloquent.  Serious recommendation.  Also finished Jodi Picoult's Songs of the Humpback Whale, which in regular Jodi fashion was captivating).

2nd class sleeper train tickets between Bangkok and Chiang Mai only cost us about $25 a person with AC.  We saved even more money (not on purpose) buy training it without AC on our sleeper train back to Bangkok from Chiang Mai (it wasn't that bad, but AC is preferred obviously).  The best part about sleeper trains is that you don't have to pay for a hotel thus saving you more money. 

What is a sleeper train you ask?  Well its a regular train by day.  And then at night, the helpful train man comes around and makes up top and bottom bunks with clean sheets and curtains when you are ready to go to sleep.  The bedmakers are super fast and efficient and could get the bunks prepared in less than 3 minutes. 

In general we enjoyed our time on the train, especially this time (more details about it, look here).

Things we learned on the train:
1. don't order train food; it ain't great
2. the coffee offered in the morning is NOT complimentary
3. don't drink the morning orange juice; first it isn't free, second its disgusting
4. Chang costs much less if you buy it at the station vs. buying it on the train
5. Choose your bathroom wisely (European vs. East)

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