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“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”  – Saint Augustine



 

An Adventure on Thailand’s State run Railway:

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On the Way to Chiang Mai by Overnight Sleeper Train. Our journey begins at Bangkok’s HuaLamphong Station. Opened in 1916, this building is still very nice.

 

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It can fill up very fast.

Walking from the lobby to the platforms, you are welcomed by the sweet smell of diesel exhaust. Most of the Locomotives are from the 1960, 70 or 80’s. Pollution control was not a priority in the 1970’s. Thailand does not really buy anything new, most trains are hand me downs from other countries. Most of the 2nd class sleepers appear to be from South Korea, and the first class sleepers, from Japan.

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All Aboard

Thailand Offers 1st, 2nd or third class cars. 1st class is all air conditioned 2 person private berth sleepers. 2nd class is available with or without a/c sleepers (not private. ) 2nd class seats are also available, they are like an airplane seat. Third class is non a/c wood bench seats. We travelled second class.

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They change brake shoes right in the terminal before you leave.

They change brake shoes right in the terminal before you leave.

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seats are not too bad, don't mind the cockroaches on the floor

seats are not too bad, don’t mind the cockroaches on the floor

all Thai trains have Railway Police on board, I figured I should make friends early.

all Thai trains have Railway Police on board, I figured I should make friends early on, this is a 15 hour trip after all.

The restaurant car

The restaurant car

We booked an A/C sleeper car on the way up. The non A/C cars are much nicer, because you can open the windows. (the restaurant car is non a/c)

Dinner time, waiting for our food. Really not sure what to expect here.

Dinner time, waiting for our food. Really not sure what to expect here.

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its not 5 star, but it was very tasty. Sadly one dish was too spicy to eat.

its not 5 star, but it was very tasty.

Thai Train Dinner: $4 each

When Dinner was over, it was time to go to sleep. The train attendant makes your bed for you. There is one attendant per car (40 beds) and he can make the bed in under 2 minutes.

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being 6″5 I barely fit in these beds.

good night

good night

After an average sleep:

hanging off the train for some photos

hanging off the train for some photos

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breakfast.

breakfast.

welcoming part at one of the small train stations.

welcoming party at one of the small train stations.

finally arrived

finally arrived

in search of our hotel

in search of our hotel

We found an Irish pub!!

We found an Irish pub!!

What I am about to do to this Hamburger is unholy. Thai food is good, but fries and a burger really hit the spot…… with a cold Tiger. If I am eating non Thai Food, maybe I should venture outside of Thailand for my Beer. (from nearby Singapore)

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Wherever you are in the world, someone is enforcing parking regulations:

Thai Parking Enforcement Hard at Work (note the scooters chained together)

Thai Parking Enforcement Hard at Work (note the scooters chained together)

Our Hotel Room (Air Con, Swimming Pool, Free Wifi) $27 per night.

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Visiting Temples 101

 

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When visiting Temples you must remember to wear Polite Clothing, which means knees and shoulders must be covered, and you must remove your shoes.

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hard to believe these rules still exist

hard to believe this rule still exists

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Wat Chiang Man build in 1296

large reclining buddha

large reclining Buddha

green beans and corn ice cream

green beans and corn ice cream

After the Wat's (temples) and ice cream to cool down, we headed to the Chiang Mai Night Market

After the Wat’s (temples) and ice cream to cool down, we headed to the Chiang Mai Night Market

$2 for a big bottle of beer, you have to take advantage of that.

$2 for a big bottle of beer, you have to take advantage of that.

This turned out to be the best market / shopping on our entire trip.

This turned out to be the best market / shopping on our entire trip.

only 20 baht (77 cents), ok I guess

only 20 baht (77 cents), ok I guess

Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep-  

Doi Suthep as it is commonly called, and emblazoned on most of the Songthaews in Chiang Mai is a massive temple atop a mountain. The views of Chiang Mai are spectacular, on a clear day.  We caught a Songthaew from the Hotel to the “meeting bench”. At the meeting Bench you sit and wait for 8 people to fill the truck and then head up the mountain. 15 kms on a very windy mountain road in the back of a pickup truck for about $3.50 per person.

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We arrived at the top- Songthaews waiting to take people down.

We arrived at the top- Songthaews waiting to take people down.

Red Songthaews do not travel a set route, if you see a white, yellow or grey Songthaew- they travel a set route and are usually not for farangs (foreigners)

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The king welcoming us to Doi Suthep

Doi Suthep on the left, the King on the Right. his photo is everywhere in Thailand

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Doi Suthep was built in 1383 and there is some sort of legend involving a white elephant. It is a very popular pilgrimage destination for many monks.

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They know how to raise money at these temples.

They know how to raise money at these temples.

This monk was performing some sort of ceremony whereby he would splash water on your back as you kneel before him. It looked very refreshing in the heat.

This monk was performing some sort of ceremony whereby he would splash water on your back as you kneel before him. It looked very refreshing in the heat.

Shoes off to enter the temples, and kids sweep them into piles. Makes it really easy to find your shoes after

Shoes off to enter the temples, and kids sweep them into piles. Makes it really easy to find your shoes after

This is Ganesha, a hindu god

This is Ganesha, a hindu god

I can get more into the Hindu / Buddhist stuff when I cover Angkor Wat in Cambodia, but Ganesha is worshipped in Thailand, or at least he is still respected, but they may worship the Buddha more. I am by no means an expert in this field. But the fact that this temple is 650 years old, speaks to the different religions worshipped here.

view of Chiang Mai

view of Chiang Mai

A visit to the Zoo

We visited the Zoo mainly to see an Elephant. While in Thailand, you can ride an elephant if you want to part with over $200 (which is a fortune in Thailand) and support animal thieves. Most Elephants are sadly taken illegally while young, and forced to perform tricks etc. It is not natural to ride an elephant. You need to break the elephants “Spirit” to be able to ride them. Furthermore, most places strap a large heavy wooden seat to the Elephants back. We decided the Zoo was the lesser of the evils. Anyway here is what we saw:

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Hippo's

Hippo’s

The Zoo is massive and we only had 2 hours left before closing, so we rented a golf cart to get around

The Zoo is massive and we only had 2 hours left before closing, so we rented a golf cart to get around

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How long is that tongue?

How long is that tongue?

its massive!!!

its massive!!!

Lion / Tiger food.

Lion / Tiger food.

Baby Koala with mom

Baby Koala with mom

Mr. Orangatang

Mr. Orangutang

This guy was a highlight, mostly playing with a stick the entire time, but he would look straight at you, I wonder how fast he can run?

hanging around

hanging around

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This guy loved bananas. He Probably ate 50 during our 20 minutes together

whoa, hold on

whoa, hold on

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We saw many other animals, but some where difficult to photograph or they are fairly common: Flamingoes, lots of monkeys, cayman, crocodile, rhinoceros, kangaroos, exotic birds, deer, mules, buffalo etc.

We left the Zoo and flagged a songthaew for a ride back into town. Ayahad done some research online and found a restaurant we wanted to try- Lemongrass, and it was Dinner time so we went to taste it out-

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tasty fried spring rolls

tasty fried spring rolls

I believe this is Tom Yum Soup, but I might be wrong. I do, however, remember this was out of this world flavor!!!

I believe this is Tom Ka Gai Soup, but I might be wrong. I do, however, remember this was out of this world flavor!!!

This place was so good, we went back the next night

This place was so good, we went back the next night

Time for another Thai Massage

Time for another Thai Massage

$6 per hour

$6 per hour

on the move.,..

on the move.,..

yes, don't worry this is totally safe

yes, don’t worry this is totally safe

making good use of a phone booth, who uses a phone booth anymore?  Even in Thailand, everyone has I-phones

making good use of a phone booth, who uses a phone booth anymore? Even in Thailand, everyone has I-phones

back to the night market

back to the night market

Time to head south- back to Bangkok

Time to head back to Bangkok on this ancient train

If two trains leave the station 30 minutes apart and one train is full of school aged kids (on an overnight sleeper train) Which train would you want to be on?

If two trains leave the station 30 minutes apart and one train is full of school aged kids (on an overnight sleeper train) Which train would you want to be on?

Somehow we lucked out and were on the other train!!!!

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Back in Bangkok for one night- heading to Cambodia tomorrow. This is the view from the hotel

Back in Bangkok for one night- heading to Cambodia tomorrow. This is the view from the hotel

Bangkok Chinatown

Bangkok Chinatown

Cambodia here we come.