Friday, 23 August 2013

Petchaburi, the start of the journey south

Well day one of the slow train south was almost a disaster, got up gently, read email with breakfast, think we might have a found a ski apartment near Morzine for the winter season, so that’s all pretty exciting.

The fabulous 2N Guest House at Petchaburi
Rammed everything into the rucsacs, walked and public transport to the station (in plenty of time) bought chicken fried rice for the train, found the kittens, in the food court, curled up on the opposite seat to where I saw them when we stopped in when we bought the train tickets (couldn't stroke them then, but could today) so all good.

Sauntered onto the platform and onto a newly arrived train. At half past leaving time it finally pulled out, and no one had looked at our tickets, but hey, I was calm, (in the past in the UK I've wanted the guard just to check my ticket to say I'm on the right train), but reassured by the number of white faces I suppose, we couldn’t have been going anywhere too obscure!

Our beautifully finished room, perfect for a hot climate
All going well, till about 1km from the stop before ours, the train stopped, don't know how long for, but more than an hour and a half, before finally moving into the station and stopping again! No one said or did anything, and no one walked passed to ask. So good as gold, everyone just sat there, or wandered over the tracks to the toilet and the food stall, before returning to the train. Knowing we were only 45 mins from our destination we didn’t really want to eat, but at the very least we rang the guest house, she already knew there was a problem with the train as she'd waited 20 mins for it! She said she thought there might be a minibus from Ratchaburi to Phetchaburi, so B went to the ticket office to ask what was happening. 

Breakfast this morning at 2N Guest House
He was obviously very calm and polite as she took our tickets and replaced them with ones for the 18.20 (crossed out to 19.20) slow train at no cost (despite 44baht being marked on the ticket) so off we got. (Bearing in mind we should have been at our destination at 16.10 and it was now about 18.45) Mentioned all this to the Swiss lads we'd been talking to, also aiming at Phetchaburi (to do some climbing! Will have to look into that in a tick!) So off they got to do the same thing, followed by half a dozen other young people. They came back most disgruntled, she'd wanted 250 baht (bearing in mind our original tickets were only 128!) so they didn't pay. A French couple came up a bit later, asked us again, so we told them our story and the Swiss update, looked like they were going to pay, only to be told "it's full!"

Deep fried, sweetened coconut wrapped banana, with the coconut custard cup cakes!
It looks like we were the only ones to get free, or any tickets onto a bit tireder but mostly empty train for the last 45 mins of our journey! I felt awful, sort of, or should that be guilty? I don’t know, I don’t know how we were the only people to get a new ticket, how we were on our way while everyone else is still sitting there waiting as far as we know! Even if they were getting a new engine from Bangkok it should have arrived by then. All very odd, but who are we to argue? All in all the journey that should have taken from 13.00 to 16.10 took till 20.08, to finally get to Phetchaburi.

We think these were sweet deserts, but didn't try them
Rang the guest house again to say we’d left the station and she appeared seconds after we did, took us to the night market to get take out dinner (though she would have waited if we’d wanted to eat there I’m sure) and brought us back to a lovely guest house, it's about 1km out so they provide free bikes, a/c, light breakfast, beer from their fridge, all for 560 baht (£11.20, but we do have to pay for the beer!) We may be here for longer than the 4 nights we've booked!

The wifi works in the room, so we can sit in comfort and type, and surf, so I’ve looked for climbing where we are but have found no mention of anything anywhere nearby, so hope the lads aren’t going to be too disappointed! 
We think the one on the right was a spicy pork stew
Whether we’d have actually paid probably quite a lot of money to hire gear, as ours is all on the mail boat home, in this heat is also a valid question. Still the guest house is lovely, 2N as it is run buy Nisi and Nit, two sisters who really can’t do enough for you, it’s obviously quite new, spacious and even has a small verandah, (to sit and eat dinner without smelling the room out!)

BBQ spicy fish!
Breakfast this morning was lovely, coffee toast and fruit, well that’s mostly what we’ve been eating for the last 9 months, so…. It wasn’t as basic as that though, juice, marmalade, banana, rambutan and another lychee looking thing, plus some banana wrapped in sweetened coconut and fried and some other concoction she described as cup cakes. Like no cup cake I’ve ever had, eggy with a coconut custard, really delicious (the odd corn kernal was slightly unexpected, but what do we know!)

Our lunch, spicy crab BBQ'd in banana leaf
We selected our bikes but she thought the tyres needed pumping so while we chilled a bit she got that done (B was going to do it, but she had to borrow the pump) and off we set to town, just to spy out the lie of the land, well we are in no rush after all. Stopped at a market and bought something fishy, containing crab that had been cooked wrapped in a banana leaf. It was lovely, quite spicy but very nice. We’d only taken about 1 mouthful when a lady came over with a bottle of water and a tin cup, pointed out where to bring it back to and wandered off, very sweet we thought, not sure we wanted  it but it’ll keep, we’ll pay on our way out, when she was replaced by a man, who
It tasted good!
looked in the tin cup, threw out the water and wandered off to return with it full of ice! (How do you ask if it was made with ‘good water’?) We drank and talked, he’d lived in Honolulu for 30 years (or something, if it was that long he still had a very strong Thai accent), but still, very interesting. Just about to leave, he wouldn’t let us pay for the water, and the lady re-appeared with a carton of apple juice each! How kind is that? Pottered a bit further, getting our first glimpse of the monkeys that live here, who can be quite troublesome by the sound of it, stealing anything that might be food! 
Our first monkey - but there's plenty more!
Also saw a cat and a cat and kitten, it’s just as well I’ve got the bike with a bell so I can ‘ting’ B to stop (the ringing part of his bell was apparently stolen by a monkey) when needs be. (We’ve just been visited by Nit bringing us some bananas, like I say, can’t do enough for you.) Decided it really was too hot so we’d head back after stopping for a quick ice-cream (ice-cream has gone from £2.10 a scoop to 30p a tub crossing from Oz to Thailand). While eating another lady stopped to speak to us, she had lived in Texas for a number of years, till her husband had passed away so she’d come home. It’s lovely all these people who want to stop and talk, hurrah for being out of Bangkok.
Happy Jackie

Jackie does a 'cycle by' past a Wat

More lunch. Not sure what these were, possibly deep fried breadfruit. They weren't very inspiring, we didn't finish them
An even happier Jackie!
Nisi rushed out as we arrived back, obviously concerned we weren’t having a good time, but no, explained we were quite happy to chill and go out again later when it’s a bit cooler. Looks like we’ve got the last laugh again though, it started pouring down about half an hour after our return! That’s a fortnight now we’ve managed to avoid getting caught out in it, I’m sure we’ll get a good soaking at some point before we go home, but long may this last (not the rain, I’d quite like that to stop in a bit, before we want dinner anyway).

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