Escape back to Chiang Mai

We arrived at the train station for the 9:45 train which true to form is delayed. This is the norm, no Thai train is ever on time but never very late, 30 minutes. A very officious guard herds everyone onto the correct platform and the train arrives, they don’t hang about, it is on the move very quickly. There are comfortable reclining seats and cool air conditioning. Once you are sat down a stewardess arrives with a bun filled with custard and a cup of coffee, lovely. There are 3 carriages with one cleaner who arrives and sweeps and mops the floor, a stewardess in every carriage to serve food and drinks, one ticket collector, it runs very well.

The landscape is flat and industrial for the first hour and then opens up to rice fields and villages. Occasionally you notice an enormous Buddha on a small hill, glinting in the sun. More crops, not just rice appear and more undulating land and trees.

Lunch arrives. It’s a pot of rice; egg stew with spice and chicken and red curry (chue chee) with mackerel. None of it looks very appetising.The egg is black with a bit of gnarly chicken floating in a grey viscous looking fluid. The red mackerel curry smells and tastes too fishy so I eat a bit of rice and I will have a banana. I won’t starve. Chris wolfs all of his down like a local, he is getting very adventurous with his food. I admire his tenacity but I’m not going there!!!!

According to Chris, my font of knowledge, the train is South Korean and made by Daewoo. It is 22 years old and travels at 110km an hour. The train runs very quietly, it puts our trains to shame. It cost £15 for a 9 hour journey, very reasonable. Only 7 hours to go I might have a snooze.

We pass an immense lake which seems to go on for miles with lots of tributaries and again edged by vast swathes of paddy fields. Some are just planted with a shimmer of green and some brown watery mud awaiting their transformation. There are also big open waters full of lotus plants, not yet in flower it must look fab when they bloom. This central part of the country is where a lot of the rice is grown, between Bangkok and the northern territories.

Rice fields, shanty towns, concrete towns: Rice fields, shanty towns, concrete towns; ad infinitum. It was interesting for the first 2 hours but after 5 hours it was tedious, and then at last, the railway line started cutting through the mountains. It was a good job as I was about to try and bludgeon myself to death with my plastic coffee cup….it’s Chris that likes the train journeys; 9 hours on a train or 1 hour on a plane it’s a no-brainer in my world and not much difference in price but I like to keep him happy 🙂

We then got biscuits and coffee, all good, the scenery was spectacular. Steep cliffs and jungle, it was worth the wait. The train follows the Mai Yam Nom river with its forested steep sides all the way to a town called Lampang. Last year we decided to ride to Lampang on the bike, it took 3 hours of hard riding in horribly busy traffic that was mostly big trucks. It was scary. When we got there we realised we could have got the train return for 100 baht. We nearly put the bike on the train for the return but wanted to go to the famous Thai elephant hospital on the way back so we didn’t get the train and saw the nellies instead. It was worth the very flat bottoms we both had.

We arrived back in CM, took a tuk tuk to our guesthouse, went out to eat and then fell into bed. It is nice to sleep without the AC on, the temperature was a cool 16 degrees. We slept like babies.

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