Trip from Bangkok to Chiang Mai

Bangkok was complete madness – on the walk to the train station we had about 17 billion taxi touts then the station itself was full of fake information people.

I had no idea what was going on so I had KFC for lunch

Neither Kentucky-style nor fried. And it comes with tuna salad instead of chips.

There were no sleeper spaces available so I took a second-class fan seat, then waited for the train after stocking up on buns.

The platform

The train arrived on time but left 1 1/4 hours late.  It was full of hawkers walking up and down the aisle selling food and drinks.  I thought they would get off when the train left but they don’t!  One particularly corpulent woman kept hitting me with her posterior as she waddled past, honking like some sort of rice-selling goose.

The train starts half full but with a billion stops within an hour it soon fills up.  From here it was fan-assisted baking for 15 hours.  I was sitting next to an older man with grey hair in a ponytail who spoke no English.  I tried to gesture to him to open the shade so I could use my solar charger.  He smiled and made sure the other 2 shades were also pulled.  Oh well.

I had my sausage bun and raisin bun and resisted buying anything else but by 10 I was feeling hungry.  The man bought 2 parcels of noodles – and gave one to me!  It was a cold pad thai, but wonderful.  I had a bit of a sleep on my vinyl chair stuck in the half-reclined position, but was awake again at 12.30.  We had stopped and the man was leaning out the window.  He returned with 2 bowls of hot soup, and again gave one to me.  It was delicious.  No idea what the broth was made from but it had chunks of kidney, heart, and some white meat, with coriander.  When finished he heartily threw both the bowls out the window, and bought me another parcel of noodles.  The condiment sachets here are NOT salt and pepper – they’re sugar and chilli, as I found out after using them.  I have no excuse, since the lights stay on for the whole trip.

The train arrived at about 6.45.  It’s not far from town (3km?) so I walked, and had a billion taxis try to pick me up.  There were other people around, mainly monks collecting alms.  I was looking for somewhereto stay, and was approached by a man wearing cycle racing lycra, sitting on his machine that would be a bit newer than the Giant RS900.  He showed me a portfolio of photos of a wonderful guest house.
“It looks too expensive for me.”
“No no, only 150!”  $6 a night.  I followed him.  It was an old maze of a villa, with staircases and balconies, and ensuite rooms.  I took one.  I have a TV!

For the rest of the day I wandered about with train-lag.

The old city gate. The original was built in the 13th century, but this is a 1969 renovation of an 1800 reconstruction

Inside the city walls

Not much remains of the walls except the moat.  I went to the Tourism Authority office, which has a lot of information in English.  Then I bought some stamps – post offices in Thailand are much easier to navigate than the Malaysian ones!  I went back to the train station to book a sleeper for my return to Bangkok.  The road to the train station is full of hardware shops – including one that just sells nuts and bolts – no nails!

The maps noted a fitness centre park near the medical school, about 2km out of town.  I tried jogging over but the monsoon hit!  It lasted about 30min but I decided to continue.  The fitness park is not signposted in English – look for the Uniserv sign and turn in there.  Look for a large sign with warm-up exercises on it.  It’s a bit odd – no chin-up bar but it has one of those stupid trunk rotation hanger things, and the prescriptions are way off – 10 press ups!  However it does have a log shoulder press, and about 10 stations in total.

One of the brochures noted a film screening at the Alliance Francaise, so I went.  It was supposed to start at 8 but by 8.15 there was only the sound of cars leaving.  French people probably skiving off to drink wine and eat baguettes or whatever it is they do.  I went to the night market instead.  Much better than the one in Penang, and I had a dinner that wasn’t fried and had vegetables in it for $1.

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