Chris n' Mel in Thailand
After a late wake up and lazy last few hours in Bangkok we headed for Bangkok train station and boarded the overnight train to Chiang Mai. We had the option of taking the bus for the 13 hour trip, but still feeling confident after not yet checking our bank balance we opted for the far comfier air con train journey of the same length in time. And as soon as we were on the train we were glad we had! The overnight trains have sleeping quarters, and unable to get lower beds we each had to get an upper one. But for now we sat in the two seats facing each other with table inbetween on the lower deck, which later converts into a larger bed for another passenger. After securing our bags by padlocking all zips and the bags themselves to the storage units on the floor (tiny Thai thieves known as slitherers have been known to crawl the floors at night and pinch your stuff) we sat down and within minutes were offered beer..which of course we wanted, and the supply remained constant for the next few hours. Our 'waiter' also took our order for a three course meal for 150 baht (1 pound 50 to us), it served a purpose but wasn't a patch on the quality Thai meals we'd been used to. TIP: for anyone ever thinking of getting these trains, especially if there's 2 or more of you, try and get an upper and lower bed, instead of 2 upper or 2 lower. This way you can use the lower area while you're up and about playing cards, chatting etc then have your beds made up when you and your mates decide your ready. The lower area comfortably seats 4 people with a table inbetween, and doing it this way means you dont have to worry about the people waiting to go to sleep where you're eating and drinking, and if you are the person on the lower that wants to go to sleep, you won't have to wait for people to shift off your bit so your bed can be converted and made up. Anyway, we weren't so lucky as after only booking our trip the night before all the lower beds were gone. As we were on 2 upper beds but had ordered a meal the waiter told us to sit together, meaning the poor Thai guy who'd booked the lower bed and wanted a quiet night had wait until we'd finished eating and drinking. We felt bad so as soon as we'd eaten we asked if he wanted his bed, this was only about 9pm by the way, and he leapt out of his seat; gutted! We watched in wonder as the train staff flipped chairs, straps, adjusted curtains and made up beds, and minutes later we'd been relegated to our sleeping quarters at a little after 9pm, the Thai guy teeth brushed, tucked in, and off to sleep, and us two attempting to sit on our upper beds crunched up with a giant bottle of Singha beer each wondering if the beds would take 2 people crouched over to play cards. boo, we weren't happy. We gave in after a little while and lay down, chatting to each other across the narrow corridor and with a Canadian guy who just wandered down to talk to some people, then to an irish lad and couple of english girls alongside us who also weren't ready to go to sleep. Eventually, with neck ache from trying to drink from oversized beer bottles while lying down, we got out of bed and wandered off in search of the 'bar carriage' we were fantasising about and had decided was what this journey was really missing. Lo and behold there was indeed a full blown disco going on a few carriages down. Neon flashing lights lit up the carriage, incredibly cheesy pop music blared out and this, the tiniest of all the carriages was full of people sitting at tables facing each other and being brought booze by the comedic Thai waitress. Extatic that we'd found seats we sqeezed in next to two Thai guys facing each other and got ourselves some Singhas. Before we knew it we were learning Thai with 'Na Rim' and his colleague and practising the words for Thank you, hello and of course Cheers, shouting over the racket from the train tracks outside with silhouettes of palm trees and jungles flashing passed us throught the wide open windows. After a few more beers & meeting a gang of young english teachers travelling around, we were booted out of the carriage and sent back to our beds. We chatted to the english girls and irish lad for a bit longer, then after being shushed a few times thought we'd best get to bed.