I was excited about the prospect of a little third world fun, which I hoped would be similar to my time in India. I enjoyed the politeness of the Japanese people, the cleanliness of their country and the similarities to America, but it was time for a change. Thailand provided just that. For starters, walking down a Thai street is completely overwhelming for your olfactory glands. The odors and aromas you smell literally change by the second and range from a delicious curry being cooked from scratch by a street vendor to the most heinous scent of excrement you can possibly imagine.
As I write this, I am sitting on a train bound for the Northern city of Chiang Mai. The train isn’t terrible- it is far preferable to the bus I took in India, but the bounciness and sudden stops most likely indicate a long night with little to no sleep. I’m getting too old for this….
However, there is one woman on this train who may singlehandedly have made this trip infinitely better just with her fantastic attitude. She is this large, boisterous Thai woman whom I can only hope to try and accurately describe. Throughout the train trip, she has been bumbling up and down the hallways asking if we want orange juice or other goodies. "Orange juice! You want some orange juice!" She clearly loves her job, or at least does a really good acting job that she does. When she took our dinner orders she came and sat beside us and struck up a friendly conversation. Wonderful woman.
The sad thing is that the little cots on these trains are far, far more comfortable than the bed I had in my Japanese apartment and the mattress on which I slept in the Thai hostel. There is a little curtain that wraps around each bed allowing for privacy, and an attendant made up our beds and provided each of us with a blanket. Considering each ticket cost less than 30 bucks that is quite a deal.
|My cozy train cot|
|My delicious train coffee|
After the train ride up to Chiang Mai and its surprising degree of comfort, I was ready to enthusiastically recommend it to anyone taking a trip to Thailand. However, the ride back was...a struggle to put it mildly. I would say definitely go to Chiang Mai. There is no question. The moment you arrive you realize what a tranquil escape it is from the bustling sensory overload that is Bangkok. Chiang Mai is much more calm, cheap, and full of nature.
However... do NOT do what we did, which was take two overnight trains in three days. I would say fly one way, if possible. The train back was a different model and not nearly as comfortable. The way back featured "charming" fluorescent lights blaring the entire 14-hour journey. Not ideal.