The Train With no Freight Car

Thursday, 10 Jan, 2019

Bangkok - Chiang Mai

The air conditioning worked very effectively and we all slept pretty well. Occasionally, when a boat passed at speed down the river you could hear the swell as the water moved under the hotel. It really was built out over the water.

Breakfast view

We returned to the little terrace for breakfast which we had ordered the night before. Jonno had pork with sticky rice whilst the rest of us had some form of eggs. This was accompanied by excellent coffee which was sourced from northern Thailand. We also tried some of their delicious home made passionfruit jam on toast. The river provided an ever changing backdrop and we appreciated the leisurely start.

Breakfast eggs

Breakfast pork

We had booked our train tickets to Chiang Mai on the overnight sleeper, train number 9. As I was researching what to expect for dinner on the train, I made an unpleasant discovery. According to to one very informative website about Chiang Mai train travel, train number 9 did not have a freight car and did not take bicycles. If true, this would be a big problem.

We had to pick up our train tickets anyway so decided it would be a good idea to head to the train station and find out the status of freight on train no.9. It was less than a kilometer to the station and we picked up our tickets from 12asiago just opposite. The assistant gave us directions to the parcel depot at the station. Whilst Simon queued there, I headed to the train information booth. The lady spoke excellent English and confirmed that it was not possible to take the bicycles on train 9. However, they could follow later on train 13 or 51. This meant we could still catch the sleeper and just had to hope our bikes made it to Chiang Mai independently.

This confirmed, we headed back to the hotel to check out detouring via the nearby 7/11 to see if we could buy an AIS SIM card. As we approached the shop, we were stopped by a man asking where we were going. On hearing that we weren't going far, he was happy for us to proceed but warned us not to go much further as there was a protest underway a little further down the road..

We had no luck with the SIM so returned to the hotel and put the bikes together. This was done quickly and we took the advice of the hotel owner to have lunch at a duck noodle cafe not too far away. It was an excellent recommendation as the noodles were sensational.

Assembling the bikes

Tourist menu. It works!

We wandered further in search of an AIS tourist SIM which we finally found in an internet café. I was keen to get data access in case we had problems sorting out the bikes into a later train and needed to source further information. We then went on to a llama cafe I had read about but apart from the very large llama and some llama sketches on the wall, there wasn't much there at all.

Back at the hotel we relaxed for a while and took advantage of their cold showers which was lovely and refreshing. You could watch the water drain straight into the river.

We were back at the station in plenty of time and registered the bikes. We were promised that they would be on either train 13 or train 51 which would see them arrive in Chiang Mai by lunchtime tomorrow. It felt weird to leave the bikes sitting on the platform unattended.

We found our train and seats. We checked out the dining car and agreed it would be a good option for dinner. Turned out that an attendant came through the train taking orders and our dinner was delivered to our seats. It was substantial and tasty..

Around 7:30 another attendant came through to make up the beds. It was all very efficient and we are now each settled in our beds behind curtains which provide some privacy but do not block out the bright central lights. Hopefully we will all get a reasonable nights sleep.