Saturday, November 21, 2009

Riding The Rails

Track approaching Medway Viaducts. {{location ...Image via Wikipedia
While reasearching this trip, I was delighted to find that there were multiple opportunities for rail travel. The first being a journey from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet, a small town near the Cambodian border. The plan was to catch the 5:55am train, as this was the only way to make it into Cambodia in one day by train, as the border closes at 8pm.

I get back to my hotel in Bangkok around 1am, after killing the evening on a patio in Khao San Road. I sleep fitfully, fearful of missing my 4am wakeup call.

After a series of short naps, I drag my ass out of bed and check out. As usual, I am running about a half hour behind my self imposed schedule. I exit the hotel and throw my bag into the back of a taxi when I hear a voice calling from the hotel, Sir sir!

The front desk is claiming that I owe them for one beer from the minibar.

They are incorrect, but I understand why they are saying this and the reasons are far too convoluted and boring to go into detail here.

I have neither the time nor the will to have an argument over such a trifle. I race back up to the mezzanine and pay the money, knowing they will realize their honest mistake later.

In short, I would advise all travelers who avail themselves of a minibar, to make sure that the maid makes up their room everyday, if only to keep an accurate tab. I thought I was giving the maid a break, but it cost me, more in aggravation than the small amount of money involved.

Now I am really behind and a lot hinges on getting my boney ass on this train. Fortunately, the magnificent train station is not far, and I make it with about three minutes to spare.

As expected, this particular route is run by a very basic train , and is very crowded. The seating is about as luxurious as your average subway. I find myself seated on a bench seat intended for three, with a similiar seat facing me, though it is hard to complain about the seating when my over five hour journey cost me less than two dollars, cheaper than a transit fare in Toronto.

I am also happy to be leaving Bangkok, and looking forward to getting off the beaten path. While Bangkok is a wonderful place, it is rife with the same indifference that is the hallmark of any large city.

The train heaves forward with an increasing clickety clack., as the receding city sparkles in the Bangkok dawn.

The train makes many stops, each at increasingly smaller stations. My seat mates change several times. At one point a lovely Thai lady who looks to be thirtyish joins me. At the next stop, a group of young boys dressed in sports uniforms board.

The lady engages them, and she and the kids are sharing laughs together. I desperately wish I could join in, but no matter.

Sometimes you don't need to understand the language to realize the true beauty of a fellow human being.

The Thai countryside rolls by as tuk tuks give way to oxen and shanty's are replaced by rice paddies. For the first time I feel that my journey is truly underway.