Beyond Chiang Mai
After two months in this wonderful city in the north of Thailand, It was time for Mary Ann and I to start our journey back to Sharjah. She had been here a mere two weeks, and even with all the things we did see and do, we left a lot on the table for another trip. I will be back in November for more dental work. Mary Ann has not decided if she will be back. I suspect she will. She loved the town as much as I did.
Now it was time to head south to Bangkok. We decided that we would go by train. When I told people we were going by train, the first thing they said was
“first class I hope”. But our train did not have a first class. It was the daytime “sprinter” which only had four cars, all second class. I asked when I bought the tickets, and yes, it had air conditioning, and padded seats. Everyone told me that it had wood benches and open windows “Like the train at Disneyland, only not as fast.” Then they warned me that there was no telling what time we would get into Bangkok because the trains here always late. So I was ready for at least twelve hours on a wooden bench in tropical heat.
So much for the local lore. The train rolled at exactly the scheduled time and arrived in the Bangkok station right on the minute. Probably the only thing uncomfortable was that it was over air-conditioned, actually chilly. The seats were close to airline seats and even reclined.
I was just a little concerned that I would not be able to have a smoke for 12 hours, but I found out that if you wanted, you could stand on the platform between the cars and smoke. I did. It was like surfing on a steel board on a steel ocean. I only had a few, but it was exciting. I felt like a hobo riding the rails out there, I was having fun.
Although the train was called the Sprinter, we really did not pass by many of the stations, and that was cool. Some of them were truly romantic looking. With an expected Asian twist, they were like stations out of the old American west.
Mary Ann wants to go back to Thailand to write a travel guide about this trip. She wants to get off at every stop, spend a day or more and write about what you can find in these small towns. Sounds good to me, I would love to go along.
The first few hours we were in mostly jungle. Then we hit the mountainous areas and even went through a couple of tunnels. We constantly commented on the similarity of the flora with what we remembered from Panama.
Then we spilled out into the fertile plains of Thailand and went through tens of thousands of acres of rice paddies. You can picture in your mind the classic South East Asia rice paddy, with the farmer in the pointed “coolie” style hat hunched over planting rice. The only thing to erase from your memory is the American soldier toting an M16, thank god.
We arrived in the “Big Mango” (Bangkok) exactly on time, 11 hours and 45 minutes after we left Chiang Mai.
My next blog (coming soon, stay tuned) will be of our tours in and around the big mango.
Thanks for reading, feel free to comment.