This is a special one from the Thailand archive for Mr Rice, who is currently relaxing with his chum Mr Bawcombe on Palolim beach in Goa. On our most recent trip, we had three weeks in Thailand, which allowed to spend a little longer on the road, rather than flying to each destination. So Mr Rice finally got to show me the Bangkok sleeper train he’s so fond of.
A week or so before we boarded the Trang to Bangkok sleeper, we had jumped aboard the midnight train from Hua Hin to Surat Thani only a couple of days before New Year’s Eve. It wasn’t just Mrs and Mr Rice who were trying to get south for the festivities, so the train was jam packed – consequently we had settled for ‘second class air con’ seats, which basically meant old-fashioned plastic bus-style seats with minimal recline. ‘Air con’ was simply a wide open window that allowed the cold night air to rush through the carriage – all night. And worst of all, Mrs and Mr Rice were sitting next to each other, but with the pesky aisle separating us, so we couldn’t even cuddle up to keep warm. Ho hum, eight hours later we arrived, having had very little sleep and groggily resolved to travel sleeper all the way in future.
Sitting down happily in our ‘second class sleeper’ carriage after we boarded the train at Trang, I remembered the less than comfortable journey in second class air con, and I was as happy as if we’d sat in Business Class. Sometimes the most romantic moments are in the most unexpected places, and as we settled back in our seats, watching the sun set over the Thai countryside, our evening was perfected by the lovely waitress who brought us dinner and two cold bottles of Chang!
It was a simple but tasty meal of sweet and sour chicken with rice and salad, served on a stow-away table by a persistent lady who kept bringing us two Changs instead of one.As night fell, the carriage grew quiet as the bed man walked through the car, converting each double seat into an upper and lower bunk. Mr Rice chivalrously took the lower bunk, meaning I could climb the little ladder up to my cosy little cabin. I closed the curtains, snuggled up in the blanket and had a great night’s sleep.
Our friendly waitress returned the next morning with breakfast: ‘toast’, butter and marmalade with fresh pineapple, orange juice and a nice cup of tea for Mr Rice. The toast was in fact bread, but there’s no need to split hairs. It was a charming way to start our day and limber up for a day travelling through and from Bangkok.
So, remember – sleeper trains should only be done in sleeper carriages, and I hope you have as memorable a journey as Mrs and Mr Rice did.
© Katheryn Rice 2008