Backpacking Thailand: Took a Midnight Train

As the former capital of Thailand, we arrived at Ayutthaya train station, with reasonably modest expectations. The reality was a couple of ‘platforms’ (not elevated), which merged with a few railway lines occupied by daring, stray and scabbie looking dogs. We were headed north to the cultural heartland of Chiang Mai and had settled on a train journey as we fancied a cost saving on a hostel with the safety of not being on Thailand’s deadly roads.

After collecting our tickets, we waited on a bench for our delayed train, watching the minutes pass us by, splattering mosquito after mosquito against our tasty pale skin. Eventually, headlights appeared out of the darkness and a train horn blew.

After a somewhat treacherous walk through the noisy and filled to bursting carriages, where mangled bodies and bulky baggage lined the aisles, we made it to our cabin. Small but perfectly formed, it was professionally turned down by train staff and we soon got ready for bed.

 

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Getting snuggly

 

Summoning all my courage to make a bathroom stop, I left our serene new home to look for a loo. I have mostly blanked out the state of the loo that I found, but suffice to say to was a basic long-drop style, with accompanying pan for flushing. Just as well I bought some anti-bac, as soap was not to be seen.

Back in the cabin and excited at our first trip on the Thai tracks, we settled down to sleep. However, our state of content was short-lived. We were not the only ones here.

“Ermmm…what is on the walls?!”

Scurrying across all surfaces were tens of cockroaches, pale, almost translucent and flat bodied, but cockroaches. The rest of the night was spent huddled together on the top bunk, where the cockroaches weren’t so rife.

Scurrying across all surfaces were tens of cockroaches, pale, almost translucent and flat bodied, but the unmistakable shape of cockroaches. The rest of the night was spent huddled together on the top bunk, flip flop in hand ready to swat, where they weren’t so rife.

Scurrying across all surfaces were tens of cockroaches, pale, almost translucent and flat bodied, but cockroaches. The rest of the night was spent huddled together on the top bunk, where the cockroaches weren’t so rife.

As dawn broke, and our evening train companions retreated, our sleepy eyes gazed out of the window to spectacularly lush, jungle as we traversed a rickety, wooden bridge spanning a deep, water-filled canyon. It was almost vertigo-inducing!

Moments later our room was being converted back to its daytime set up by a plump, cheerful Thai lady, who kindly prepared us for Chiang Mai with a caffeine fix and some dried biscuits.

An eventful 12-hour sleeper train experience in first class, I can only imagine what coach must have been like!

 

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Destination – Chiang Mai

 

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