...but it wasn't pleasant...
30.10.2008 25 °C
but it wasn't pleasant.....
When i got to the train station, the sleeper berths were sold out. I didn't want to wait another day in Bangkok, so I took a deep breath, and purchaced a seat for the 10 hour long train ride north.
It was already dark and raining when I borded the train. My seat was broken. If I leaned too far forward the seat would see-saw forward too, becomeing compltetly dislodged from its hinges. My tray table didn't fuction either-it was irrocoverably tied up to the latch with string. We were handed out blankets. that was good because it was airconditioned and pretty chilly in there.
Once the train got going, i realized that it was going to be a long long LONG night. The sound of the railroad ties passing sounded like hammering anvils right under my head. the train would go smoothly for a while and then unexpected jerk back and forth...LOUDLY. THere is no comfortable way to sleep sitting up. None at all. THey passed out what looked like a pretty good dinner, but I had already eaten an incredibly spicy meal at the train station, and just wanted to sleep. After a while of shifting this way and that I realized the bit of my blanket that touched the ground was sopping wet. I squeezed about a gallon of water out of it, and resorted to using only half the blanket, doing my very best not to touch the wet part.
Then luck came my way. The Thai girl next to me got off at a stop about 2 hours into the train ride. I now had TWO seats and could kinda wedge myself into a horizontalish position, trying to avoid her tray table, which didn't go up, and my wonky seat, which fell forward if the weight was put on it wrong. I woke up a few times, having had a few weird dreams. I was perplexed at having drempt...why, that must mean that I slept long enough to have acheived deep sleep and then REM sleep, sure enough it was 5:30 in the morning and the sun would be rising soon. YEY! I dozed a little longer and sure enough I began to make out the Thai country side. I didn't get a remarkable sunrised, as hoped, since it was pretty overcast, but it was nice seeing rural thailand pass by.
It was very flat for a while, but I could see mountains to the west (i was sitting on the east side, sunrise side) Sometimes the flatness woudl go on forever in what looked to be farmland, tall grassy square grids extending far into the distance. The houses here look a bit more substantial than fijian ones, owing to the rain i imagine, or maybe the greater abundance of building resources, metal, timber, and stone. Sometimes we'd go through patches of dense jungily stuff.
It got quite a bit brighter and I perked up a bit, feeling more rested than I could have possibly imagined considering the ungodly positions I had assumed the night before. The neck and back were a bit stiff, but the tastebuds worked perfectly, adn when they passed out coffee in grubby little mugs I took it greatfully....and it tasted AWSOME! yum! who knew the Thai could make such good coffee!
Bathroom time. I expected something like Dante's 6th circle of hell: all defication and nastyness. Not so bad, actually. Sure it smelled a little icky, but it had toilet paper (i brought my own, just in case), and sure, I was squating over a hole...but at least the water worked to wash down the hole and wash my own hands in. not bad not bad.
I read my book for a while, and then switched seats with a fellow traveller, who had slept (or not) sitting up all night, and he asked for my little luxury spot so he could 'lay down' a while. Poor guy, he was so tall, he didn't look comfortable at all. but maybe I didn't either! anyhow I read for another hour and we stopped for long times at a few train stations, but I didnt notice anyone getting on or off. We were definatly late because we arrived an hour later in Chiang Mai than schedualed.
No matter! it felt great to stretch the legs. I purposfully ignored people yelling at me 'where you go? where you go?' or 'where you going--where are you from' etc etc. I just kept my eyes straight ahead and walked up to a map showing the prices of guesthouses around. I heard people yelling at me, but I didnt' look at them and they didn't approach me either. The only person to approach me pointed me to a tourist stand, which had a legitimate look about it, and wasnt selling anything. I found 2 others going to the same guesthosue as me, and we shared a ride to Julies for 30B each, just the price I was expecting. On the way we had a nice lady give us a map and point us all the things to do around town.
I went to into Julie's. It was packed. They only had one dorm bed available and that was only for 1 night. it was 70 B...thats like....nothing. 2 bucks maybe. They place had people sitting and cafe tables and all over cushions like some sort of thai-harem-people sitting smoking and sipping tea. I decided I'd check out GAP gueshouse also , for comparison's sake.
I'd heard it was more expensive, but had lots of perks, and stil lcheap compared to what I've been paying. A few minutes walk (thank god for a compass, it helps when street signs dont' mean anything) I aws there. GAP is BEAUTIFUL!!!! Its set amongst tropical garden folliage, blooming flowers and stone walkways. The gorgious teak guesthouses are really charming. I decided to stay here one night, even if it does cost 5 times Julies (450 B) which is around 14 bucks a night. It includes hot water showers, free internet, and my own AC room,which is pretty posh.
My bathroom is rockin too...its a lot like a marble tomb. Low ceiling (no one over 6 feet could do it), with a shower in the middle and a raised western style flush toilet and AHHHHH! GIANT MOSQUITOS! I thought they were male mossies and didn't worry about them until CHOMP, one tried to eat my leg. I actually felt him land...not like fijian mossies who are small and fast and light, but it was like an elephant hit my leg and oowwie it hurt when it bit! I've had a few more bite me since...NO FUN!
okay, so my plans.
I'm about to go out and find some food. I heard it's amazing up here and cheaper than Bangkok even. I also want to just walk around the city and see what I can see.
I think I'm going to look at some other guesthouses, I like staying in dorms because you meet more people. Its pretty quiet here at gaps, which is good, sicne I'm recooperating from a long and weary train ride, but I could save a ton of money and meet more people if i go somehwere else tommrrow night.
Julie's is an option, but I'd like to find somewhere a little less crowded...I like an ambience of like 10-15 people, rather than 15-50...its jsut a little overwhelming.
I'm also going to talk to some of the many tourists stands and try to get an idea of what the week will look like. I want to make it out to the Tham Lod Cave-and ride an elephant. Then I'll head north to Laos. I was told its about 1700 B for a bus ride to Lao, accomidation, breakfast, slowboat, accomidation, etc. IT's also easy to get a visa at the border for around 15 USD. But I'll find more out about that today.
PEAS AND CARROTS