“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:
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
After an average sleep:
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)
Wherever you are in the world, someone is enforcing parking regulations:
Our Hotel Room (Air Con, Swimming Pool, Free Wifi) $27 per night.
Visiting Temples 101
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.
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)
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.
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.
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:
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?
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-
Somehow we lucked out and were on the other train!!!!
Cambodia here we come.