The night train to Bangkok

August 11th, 2013

For our journey back to Bangkok we had decided to go by train rather than bus. The first section of our journey back to Bangkok was vastly uneventful. We got our ferry back to the mainland and then took a bus to the train station. It was raining when we arrived at the train station and due to this quite chaotic. To avoid our bags and everyone else’s ending up dumped into a puddle straight outside the baggage hold I helped the driver carry them across to shelter… no one else thought of helping and some idiot tourist couldn’t even manage to keep her kid out of the way as we struggled, but was all to keen to claim her bag out of my hands as soon as I had hold if it.

Slightly frustrated we decided to grab some fried rice from a small nearby restaurant before heading over to the station. We were waiting a while for our train to arrive until we realised we had been misinformed and it was actually on another platform.

As we entered the train everything looked relatively impressive. We had booked 2 upper bunk second class sleeper seats in an a/c carriage, but at this point the beds were all folded away and the seating looked quite traditional for a train. Due to the layout of the train and the seating arrangements we got chatting to another English guy in our facility named Phil. Phil had been on holiday on the islands and was returning to Bangkok to get a flight back home. We exchanged stories of our travels over some beers that Phil had brought with him. Due to his generosity I decided to take my hip flask out of my bag and share that around as well.

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Everything continued quite ordinarily like this for quite a while. We got some more over priced beers from a passing snack salesman, the seats were turned into beds, but we just sat on top and continued drinking. Everything seemed normal until Phil decided to go to the bathroom for a cigarette (which is standard behaviour on Thai trains). After a good 10 minutes Phil returned with the statement “You won’t believe what just happened!”. He continued to tell us that while approaching the toilet the guard who had been setting up our beds had asked him “You like to smoke?”, followed him into the toilet cubicle, pulled a bong out from a hidden cupboard and shared a couple of hits with him on it!

Phil did come across as being slightly stoned, but I was still quite skeptical about the story. That was until the guard he had mentioned popped his head round the curtain in the area where we were sitting, faced Phil, put his finger to his mouth and went “sssssh” with the worlds biggest grin on his face. This behaviour persisted with regular check-ups on Phil every time the guard passed our area. This happened to the point that Phil became concerned to return to the same bathroom near where the guard was stationed and started using the toilet on the other side of the carriage for cigarette and toilet breaks.

After a while we had run out of beer again, my hip flask was empty and we had started drinking swigs of tequila from a bottle Phil had produced from his bag. Still we thought that acquiring more beer was an absolute necessity. However I really didn’t want to pay the dodgy train food salesman guy the inflated price, so I thought I’d take a trip down the train to the buffet cart.

I walked through countless carriages that looked like our own until I got to the 3rd class carriages. These were pretty much just standard train carriages, people were sleeping across the full length of chairs, across chairs and even on the floor. It was a different world. I continued on through the 3rd class carriages eventually finding the buffet cart.

The buffet cart was nothing like you see on a British train. It was like a party lounge. Loud music was playing and people were just sitting around tables drinking, like you would in a bar. I picked up 2 beers and a coke to find the beers were only 20baht cheaper (40p), so my trip had hardly been worth the effort, but a saving is a saving I guess.

I made my way quickly back through the train with the 2 beer bottles in my hands and the coke under my arm. This was going fine until I reached the doors that were dividing the 3rd and 2nd class carriages. I pushed the button to open the doors as I had to get through the other carriages, but the doors were not opening. I looked around for someone to ask and found one of the caterers who was trying to take hot meals up to the 2nd class part of the train. I asked what was going on and got the response of “Closed, not working”. Stunned by the response I quickly searched for a guard whilst contemplating the horror of sleeping on the floor of the 3rd class carriage. I found a guard and pointed at the door, he approached and tried to open it using the button, of course to failure. He then tried to force the door open using brute force but the door wouldn’t budge. After this he tried to wedge something between the locking mechanism to force it open, but still no luck. At this point I turned to the caterer with the food, still clutching my beer and said “We have feast!” pointing at the food and then my beer, she smiled and laughed back. At this point the guard had fetched another guard to help with the situation, he tried the same techniques as guard 1, but the door still wasn’t budging. He then tried shining a torch into the next carriage to see if he could get any of the passengers attention. Unfortunately most were sleeping and had the curtains across. With what seemed like all sane methods of opening the door used up, I was getting more concerned. But amazingly at this point guard number 1 heroically handed his hat to the caterer, opened the side door of the train, and moved onto the side of the train. Outside. Whilst the train was still moving. Although I couldn’t see what happened here he must have scaled the carriages and opened the next carriage from the outside. He then appeared at the window of the next carriage and pressed the button to open the door from he other side. Thankfully it worked and I clambered through to the next carriage without any hesitation and moved up the second class carriages to our bunks.

On return I told my story to Phil and Vicky to their amusement and we carried on drinking the beers and tequila. Shortly after this Vicky went to bed leaving Phil and I to continue the session. Although not long after this a mother from a family nearby asked us if we minded being quieter. Deciding that drunker and quieter aren’t usually two words that go together we intentionally decided to “not be dicks” and go to bed. Phil offered me some sleeping pill that I gratuitously accepted (without any thought of how it might react with vast amounts of alcohol) and then climbed into my bed, put some music on and crashed.

The next morning we were woken up shortly before arriving in
Bangkok. On arrival the 3 of us grabbed our bags and headed to a restaurant for some breakfast. After we ate we exchanged details with Phil and parted ways. We managed to get a meter taxi and get a relatively cheap ride back to U-Baan hostel.