We had to check out of the Sakul House at 12 o’clock on the 3rd as they were fully booked. Our intention was to get to Chiang Mai by train but we hadn’t banked on the ‘cock-eyed’ system they have for booking train tickets.
We wanted an over night sleeper, that way we save a nights accommodation and have a full day in Chiange Mai, but it’s not that easy. However we struck lucky because right next door to the Sakul is a travel agent/ tourist office. In the main they organise stuff for back packers, trips, bungies, hostels but the guy is from Wiltshire so he almost speaks fluent English and he has a Thai wife so they were dead easy to deal with. They advised on time of trains, took about 2000 baht off us with tax and commission and delivered us 2 second class sleeper tickets within the hour. They also let us leave our bags in the office till 6 o’clock when it was time to get a taxi.
Having been pestered by taxi drivers for weeks, now we wanted one there wasn’t one to be had. We walked up to the main road where the bus had dropped us the night before and stood in the road (there is never any space on pavements as they are full of stalls or mopeds) and tried to flag one down. The Meter taxis have a red light in the windscreen to indicate they are available, or perhaps it’s to indicate they aren’t available but this isn’t an exact science so we just waved like loonies at ant taxi passing by. The first one to stop wouldn’t give me a price and wouldn’t go on the ‘meter’ ( it was rush hour and traffic is gridlocked so meter fares just don’t pay enough). I offered 80 Baht, he laughed and drove off.
The next guy agreed to do it for 130 Baht, a younger guy hungry for work but he must have felt hard done by as he wouldn’t help me load the suitcases which wouldn’t all go in the boot so one had to travel on the back seat leaving me to sit with ‘Drive’ up front.
This gave me a good opportunity to study his taxi licence which was displayed in the front window. The smiling face of a gentleman in his 60 ‘Gurned’ out at me.
“Is this you” I asked?
“No, my Father”. Our driver didn’t have a licence that alone a taxi licence!
However, he got us to the station a cavernous place slightly smokey from the fumes of the trains and poorly lit by low voltage lighting it was awash with back packers of all shapes and sizes, sprawled across the floor. Eating or sleeping in preparation for the next part of their journey. On the first 4 rows of plastic seats there were bald headed Monks looking rather out of place in their bright orange robes listening to iPods or reading kindles.
Our train was on platform 3, it was train number 13, we were seat’s 26/27 in coach 2.
We decided against buying food at the station, by now we hadn’t eaten since breakfast due to another sudden burst (of what my Dad called) “The Galloping Gob Trots.” And we were advised there was a Buffet car on the train. So we walked down to the first carriage and were very impressed with the facilities offer on the train and started loading our bags only to be booted off again as this was First Class sleeping and we were lowly second class, right at the back of the train.
Undetected we found carriage 2, manage to haul the two big suitcases onto the train (the door are still Hornby OO gauge) and put them on a rack next to our seats. We settled in nicely and the carriage started ti fill so I thought I’d investigate the toilets. At the end of each carriage you go through a sliding door into a small vestibule with a bench seat one side and a pair of stainless steel sinks with cold water taps on the other. Further on are the doors to the toilets proper. On the left a hole in the floor announced the Thai toilet station which requires a certain amount of flexibility to squat and shit on a moving train without hitting your shoes. Thankfully on the right a fairly traditional looking Western toilet minus a seat or a flush and you could see the gravel on the track through the hole. It would appear all human waste on Thai railways is simply dropped onto the line, along with our two tooth brushes and our toothpaste.
After cleaning my teeth before bed I went into the loo to have a Pee, the bag sticking out of my pocket caught on the door, flicked skyward, swirled about a bit and then dropped straight down the centre of the Bog Hole. Couldn’t do it again if I tried.
I was so excited by this discovery I wanted to share it with you, my reader so I ran back, got the iPad and went down to the toilets at the other end of the carriage to take a photo.
When I opened the door the smell knocked me backwards. Some unfortunate soul hadn’t managed to navigate the full range of actions required to use a toilet and had been in such haste they had gone anyway.
It was bloody awful and we hadn’t even left the station yet.