The train journey

After the shock of finding the toilet destroyed I reported it to the train guy.

These are funny fellows who wear some sort of military uniform, with medal ribbons on their chests and peak caps ( I suspect slit so they curl down sexily). I’m not sure what their title is as one minute they are stamping around like the Stazi, the next making beds and at one point I think he got off with a green flag and changed the points or manned a railway crossing, of which there are many.

At one stage we were stationary for ages. Then out of the window I saw a guy on the distant horizon, coming toward us on a moped. It took him about 10 minutes to reach us and when he did he opened the railway crossing barrier to let us through. I assume he got up late and so delayed train?

Anyway it definitely wasn’t in the uniform guys job description to clean up the toilet.

Before the train left Bangkok a guy came along and presented us with a very elaborate menu with pictures of mouth watering food which we could order and he would deliver to our seats. We chose stir fried pork, jasmine rice, duck breast in green curry and fruit for our evening meal and sandwiches and fruit for breakfast.

What was actually served bore no relation to the menu.

The duck was quite tasty but cold curry is an acquired taste and you could have poured the lot into a ‘Ship hams Meat Paste Jar’ with room to spare. The pork was ok but there was almost no sauce so the rice was a bit dry and the fruit was half an apple. All served in chipped plastic containers with cling film on the top.

The more seasoned travellers had brought their own food and drink and were tucking into a feast.

Once the grub was done you were unceremoniously removed from your seat and the Stazi guy, now in another cunning disguise, magically transformed our seats into a top and bottom bunk that looked rather cozy. It wasn’t long before the first travellers tucked themselves up and got down to some serious sleeping.

Jaki kindly took the top bunk on account of my enlarged prostate and the need to pee 8 times a night, plus I wear ear plugs when I’m sleeping in company and this can upset ones balance, so falling off the ladder in the middle of the night might have made for a good blog but would do nothing for my street cred. Besides, Jaki can sleep for England and it would take more than a narrow hard bunk, full on flood lights and 42 other people snorting to keep her awake.

As it turned out we all slept rather well and it was only the arrival of some squashed sandwiches in cling film being lobbed through my curtain that woke me up. (I would suggest anyone considering this mode of transport bring something warm to sleep in or a extra blanket as it got cold during the night) Then I had the pleasure of paying 800 Baht for the food and two large bottles of Change which we didn’t drink, one would have been fine for the two of us.

As with most thing Thai, time tables aren’t worth a Hoot so we still had about 3 hours travel after breakfast and as soon as you leave your bunk, Stazi whips in and turns it back into a seat again. Right little Mary Poppins.

When we got to Chiang Mai we waited to let the crowds get off and as anticipated they were pounced on by the taxi pack. When the dust settled we had the information desk to ourselves and the guy gave us a map and told us to go to the cafe just through the door on the right where we would be able to access wifi, which we did. I had a great fried egg sandwich whilst we compared the tourist map to Google maps and started comparing Hotels.

We no longer use Hotels.com or Bookings.com as in our experience we have got a much better rate direct from the Hotels own web site.

This was no exception. We compared several hotels on booking web sites, found the ones we were interested in, contacted them direct and saved several hundred Baht a night.

We eventually booked the Centara Duangtawan Hotel, 132 Loykroh Rd, Chang Klan for 3 nights including full Buffet breakfast (for two people) for £141. That is cheap in anyone’s book. Admittedly the Hotel has a few faults, they charge for wifi yet it’s not available in all rooms. The lifts are very slow and in the mornings when breakfast is being served they get busy and the rooms could do with a little bit of TLC but in the main, it’s great value. It has a large L shaped pool that goes around two sides of the building but doesn’t ever seem to get the sun so it’s bloody freezing and a well stocked Gym, though an American this morning told me, “Luxury it ain’t”.

But hey, he’s a Yank.

So once the booking had been made, we finished breakfast, hailed a passing Tuk Tuk driver who strapped our cases to the back of his steed in a vary precarious manner and delivered us to our new abode.

Job done.

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