Sunday, 11 November 2012

Kanchanaburi-Bangkok-Chiang Mai

Not a very exciting entry this, but a bit of an exhausting 24 hours! We intended just going back to Bangkok from Kanchanaburi and staying at the Atlanta Hotel for one night before catching the overnight sleeper train to Chiang Mai on Sunday night, but it didn't work out that way.

After getting up at 6:00am to catch the 7:19am train from Kanchanaburi, we sat on a relatively hot, fairly crowded train for nearly 3 hours in third class (the only class!). It really is a rickety track, those POW's just didn't take enough care when they built it!  We caught a taxi to Bangkok's main railway station (we arrived at Thonburi station, a much smaller Bangkok station) and went in to book tickets for the sleeper, but it was fully booked for Sunday night and Monday night. We investigated a bus with reclining seats but didn't fancy that, so went back to see what other trains we could get and found we could get the sleeper that night (Saturday). It meant a rush back to the Atlanta to retrieve our luggage, repack (this time with climbing gear), get on the internet and phone to book a hotel (we had to accept our second choice as the Awana that we were recommended to by some fellow travelers was fully booked) and then back to the railway station.

The train departed at 18:10, we had a beer, some fried rice and they came to convert our seating area into bunkbeds with curtain at about 20:30, so we were in bed and asleep shortly after 21:00. Actually the rocking motion of the train was a great help in getting to sleep and it was a much better quality of train, with air conditioning and a smooth railway track making it quite pleasant.

I was awake just after 6:00am and we got our breakfast shortly after, before arriving at Chiang Mai at 8:00am feeling quite refreshed after a pretty good nights sleep. I can recommend this as a way of travel! What was bizarre was the way the station ground to a halt and everyone stood to attention as the National Anthem (we assume) was played!

A quick taxi ride took us to our hotel, the Western House, which seems nice enough, in the Old City, but a bit of a walk to restaurants. Tomorrow we're heading out to the Tiger Kingdom where you can go into cages with baby and grown up tigers, so Jackie considered it a must. We did a bit of research and it appears the animals are well kept and looked after and not drugged, so we don't feel there's any cruelty. I'll be the cameraman!

Tonight there's a bit of a festival on, some chanting by some monks that we're told is very good, a firework display and a night market from 5:00pm to midnight, so we'll have a wander down in a bit and have a look. More later (or tomorrow)...

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