18.05.2007 - 19.05.2007 32 °C
The first one is if you are a light sleeper like me then don't. Travel on the train, that is. When the bunks are made up they are very cosy. In fact, many guesthouses and hotels could learn something from the State Railways of Thailand in terms of providing soft pillows and comfortable mattresses. Somehow, I don't seem to sleep though Katherine rather enjoys the sleeper train. Mind you, she was on the wider lower berth.
In Chiang Mai Train Station, the toilets cost 3 baht. This is common practice. But if you pay 5B you can take a shower and that is exactly what we did. After coming from Chiang Dao on the bus and spending the afternoon in Chiang Mai we were rather sticky but forewarned we were able to have a shower and chane our clothes just before our 17:55 train departed for Bangkok.
Next tip: The air-con is cold. I wore my zip-off trousers so I could add or remove the legs depending on how warm or cold it was. It's cold on the train but warm outside when you get off and it's good to be able to remove the legs then. We took sweatshirts too, which also were used after an hour or two.
Of course, train food is expensive and less than exciting. I went over the road from the train station and bought fried rice for Katherine and pad kapow gai for me. At 30B for each meal this was less than half the cost of a train meal, tasted better and was more filling. The locals had done the same thing too, I noticed.
Try and get your berths in the centre of the carriage or in a carriage further away from the dining car. We failed both times with this one and had to put up with many Europeans and other travellers heading backwards and forwards to the party in the dining car. Our berths were also near the toilets so we had a constant stream of people traipsing past in the evening and early morning. The automatic doord whoosh open and closed every time somebody walks through them but thankfully they seem to have a curfew and lock the one through to the dining car sometime in the late evening.
Final tip: When you choose to get off at a destination that is not the last stop it means you worry about missing your station. It is not necessary to be awake at 3am when the trains are often late and the steward kindly tells you when your station is coming up (at 6:30am).