Tuesday, November 11, 2008

the train from aranyaprathet to bangkok

all good things must come to an end, and we were feeling really mopey when we had to leave siem reap. we decided to up the adventure ante by taking the train from aranyaprathet to bangkok.

we woke up bright and early today, to make sure that we get to poipet early. we left siem reap at 9am (with heavy hearts), and went on the three-hour shaky ride back to the thai-cambodian border. our driver this time was really quiet, and kept downing bottles of red bull. we were a bit scared, but we reached the border in one piece. the cost of the taxi from siem reap to poipet is much, much cheaper than going the other way around, i think we just paid USD 10 this time.

this time, no extra charges were asked of us at immigration, and everything went uneventfully well. we walked to the tuk-tuk depot and had them drive us to the aranyaprathet train station.

the station was an old, yet very pretty, in my opinion. the well-preserved wooden structure transported back in the old days when trains were the only way to go. we lined up to get our train tickets, a measly THB 48 each (such a steal compared to the THB 220 bus tickets), and waited for 1:55pm to roll around.

to pass the time, we went out of the station to the stalls, to see if we could get something to eat. i was so excited when i saw crickets and silkworms for sale, but since i hadn't eaten anything yet, i had to pass on the critters. instead, i got myself some grilled chicken on a stick to eat on the train.

with our meals in tow, we boarded the train. finding adjacent seats for four proved quite a challenge, because a lot of people had already boarded. but we eventually got a set near the back, a few cars away from "second class." we settled down, and i took in the look of the train. it definitely could use a little cleanup, but it wasn't all that bad.

the train to aranyaprathet consisted mostly of third class seats, with the second class ones simply having reclineable seats. the entire wasn't air conditioned, and i was worried that we might be sweating throughout the entire six-hour journey, but the train was cool the entire time, because we passed through a lot of rice fields and greenery.

we left on time, but since the train station signs would almost always be in thai, we were all filled with a sense of fear that we might have taken the wrong train, or that we're going the other way. we started to relax some time around 6pm, 2 hours before we arrive at the bangkok hualamphong station, since we saw signs of bangkok busy-ness already.

the first three hours of the train ride was still pleasant, and we all managed to find ways to amuse ourselves. on the fourth hour, however, we started to get restless, and every now and then, would take turns walking the long train hallway, moving from car to car, to rid ourselves of boredom. ayeen actually played with a baby on board, and once in a while, we would entertain the thought of buying some of the refreshments being peddled by the vendors on the train.

throughout the train ride to bangkok, though, i was filled with envy. the thais really seemed to use their train system a lot, and i wanted the same thing to happen with our PNR trains. students used the train system every day to get to and from school, and people carrying goods from aranyaprathet to bangkok used it to ferry their goods more conveniently. it was such a lovely idea, having a train system at your disposal.

we arrived at the station a few minutes late, so we were rushing on the way out. but i got a chance to take a look at hualamphong station, and once again, felt a rush of envy in my veins. the station was packed, people were seated on the floor with their bags, waiting for their trains. it was such a lovely mess, i couldn't help but stop and take a snapshot.

the hualamphong train station is also pretty accessible to the bangkok MTR, so we took the MTR to saladaeng station, and made our way to take a nap hostel, our bangkok headquarters.

would i go on that train ride again? hmm... maybe not. it drove me crazy keeping still for six hours, not knowing if we're going the right way, and not even being able to carry a conversation with anyone on the train. but while the train from aranyaprathet to bangkok proved too much, it's an experience i don't regret. if anything, it got me itching to test out other rail systems in the world.

check out more photos of our train ride from aranyaprathet to bangkok.


Guide to Bangkok Hotels said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story. It's very informative. I love to read it and do hope to read your next story.

Anonymous said...

What amazes me about your story is that you say that you were unsure if you were on the right train or not and going in the right direction until just 2 hours before arrival in Bangkok. That is daft to say the least. It is not difficult to ask someone in Thailand where is Bangkok. I say again that is daft, as daft as daft can be. Many people speak english here and there is always going to be someone to answer that question.