Journey to Chiang Mai through Bangkok

Bangkok Travel Blog

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Ko Lanta: Leaving Ko Lanta on the highway Ferry across the straits.

Today I am  making my way to Chiang Mai.  Chiang Mai is in the northern provinces and involved taking a plane from Krabi to Bangkok and then taking the overnight train to Chiang Mai.

My hotel arranged  a mini van to Krabi.  By the time it got to me at my hotel it was packed full and we had to figure out how to cram me in too.  We ended up cramming me into the front seat with the driver and a woman who was holding her child in her lap.  All in all we had 15 people in an 11 pasenger van.

Krabi: Getting on my Nok Air flight to Don Muang.
  The guy at the hotel said he got me the cheaper van to Krabi.  We head out and go wait in line at the ferry crossing.  There is no bridge across the channel between the islands.  It is a 5 minute crossing on the ferry and then we are off across the north island.  There is not much on the northern island.  Part of it is short trees kind of like a mangrove swamp.  At one point a chicken races across the street in front of us and we almost hit it.  I was in the seat next to the door so I saw that we missed it but the woman sitting next to me asks me "He dieded?"  I tell her that no he is OK and she was relieved.  She didn't speak that much English but she seemed like a nice person the way she smiled along the trip.   At the second ferry leading to the mainland we had to wait a little longer to get on the boat.
Bangkok: Hualamphong train station.
  As we were waiting I watched a woman cooking up roti beside the road.  I was hungry for one at this early hour but was unsure whether we would not be heading onto the boat quite soon or not.  We got closer to the boat and it looked like it was almost full.  At the last minute we got on and crammed our van into one of the last spots on the boat, utulizing every last square inch of space.  After a short trip across the channel we were on the mainland.  On the mainland we were driving through rurual countryside but it seemed a little more settled than the island.  Eventually we got to the airport at Krabi.  The airport is small in size and fairly modern with a stainless steel look.  I was here a bit early so I had a chance to get some breakfast in the small food court upstairs and browse the bookstore on the main floor.
Bangkok: Chinatown in Bangkok.
  We boarded the plane by walking out onto the runway and we were off to Bangkok.  A short flight later we landed at Don Muang airport.

Ahhh back in Bangkok.  I get easily through the baggage claim area and make my way out to the taxi stand where I wait in line for a taxi ticket.  Once I get my ticket I get assigned a taxi and we are off.  The ticket costs 50 baht and is some sort of assurance that the taxi is legitimate and will get you where you want to go without ripping you off.  I make the 25 minute trip into Bangkoko to the Hualamphong train station without any problems.  I was watching the fuel guage on the taxi to see if it would get any lower, but it was as low as it could go for the entire trip.  The light was on the whole time (maybe it is broken).

Bangkok: Selling various items on the streets.
  I manage to only have accrued a 175 baht fare plus a 35 baht highway toll along the way.  Not too bad, only about 6 dollars.

Once at the train station I ditch my bags in the left luggage place and head out onto the streets.  There is a tangle of streets outside the train station and I try to comprehend from the map which one to take to get to Chinatown.  There are no obvious street signs so I just head down one heading in the direction of Chinatown.  Soon enough I get to Chinatown.  Chinese letters are not standard in Thailand so shop signs in Chinese characters are a dead giveaway.  My map is not helping me too much though.  I later find out that the street name changes and my map does not portray that very well.  I find a side alley and dive into that to see some of the real Chinatown.

Bangkok: Chinatown in Bangkok.
  I pop out on the other side of the alley on another very busy main street and see some good street food.  It is lunchtime and I get served a great lunch by two smiling ladies at a curbside table.  I get two diferent selections for 35 baht, including some complementary ice tea (shaved ice- rather dangerous).  Back on the street (well I never left the street) it is a narrow sidewalk and slow going.  There is another side alley so I take that.  It is a very busy. like a main street alley but still narrow (5 feet wide)  It is stop and go walking and occasionally a motorbike comes through packed with a delivery to one of the stalls along the alley.  This is some amazing stuff here.  A real chinese market with lots of strange stuff and smells.
Bangkok: A narrow alley in Chinatown.
  I am not into the dried fishy food smells though.  The alley pops out on the other side at a main street and I have trouble walking through the foot traffic to the sidewalk of the street.  Oh the humanity!!  By now I am getting a little tired of the stop and go foot traffic and decide that it is time to bail out of here and head back towards the train station.  I head north and then east till I find the tracks, pretty simple way to find your way back.  The street beside the train station tracks is a bit industrial looking with motor rebuilding shops and greasy looking street food.  Glad I got my fill of food earlier.

I step back into the air conditioned train station.  It is packed in here but at least it is air conditioned.

Bangkok: Street vendors in Chinatown.
  The seats on the upper floor are not so packed and they give you a good view of the train station to people watch.  I hang out here for a while.  After a while a young Thai man sits in front of me then he asks me where he can buy beer.  I point to one of the stands down below and he asks me to watch his bags for him when he goes to buy beer.  He comes back and we talk and he shares his beer with me (Chang- the big bottle). He is a construction worker who travels around a lot for big construction jobs. His English is not all that good but I understand quite a bit of what he says.  He goes down and buys second bottle of beer. 

Eventually it is time for me to head for my train.  I buy some food for the ride and a bottle of beer (Chang- the big bottle) and find my train.

Bangkok: A narrow alley in Chinatown.
  Each train has the destination and car number on a plaque on the side of the car.  That makes it a lot easier to find your assigned seat.  I find mine and settle in.  The train leaves more or less on time and heads out of the station but stops just outside the station where the conductor comes through the train to check tickets.  The train is stopped next to an apartment building and you can see inside.  It is pretty dumpy looking.  Half the apartment is outside in plain view of the train and out in the weather if it rains hard.  They finally check all the tickets and we continue on.  This train is pretty much an express train and only stops at a few of the stations between downtown Bangkok and Chiang Mai.  We pass by a lot of busy train stations in Bangkok and see railroad crossings with lots of cars stopped and waiting for us to pass through.
Bangkok: Hulamphong train station.
  The train stops at Don Muang airport station and a lady gets on the train and has the assigned seat across from me.  She is Thai and she never really talks to me during the whole trip so I guess she speaks no English.  She seems nice enough though.  The steward lady comes through the train with a menu and asks if I want any beer.  I tell her no, after all I stocked up back at the train station.  The people across from me get a dinner.  They are from Holland.  The food looks OK but it sounds like it was pretty spendy.  Probably 4 times the price of street food.  The steward comes though again and asks again whether I want beer.  She must get a comission.  I chat with the people across the aisle from me for a while and then they start coming through the train to convert the seats into beds.
Bangkok: Hulamphong train station.
  Each bed gets sheets, a blanket, a pillow and a curtain with the seat number on it.  I got an upper bunk bed which actually turns out to be fairly comfortable and I get some OK sleep.  I was sure to bring my day pack with all my valuables inside my sleeping area (just in case).  Eventually I need to use the bathroom and I find out that it is a squat toilet which is pretty much a hole in the floor.  Luckily there are grab rails to keep you from falling over from the movement of the train. 

I wake up a little after sunrise and make my way to a window to see where we are.  We are in valley country and I see some rice fields.  I go to the dining car to find a better place to view and sit down.  The dining car is not air conditioned so the windows are open which is rather refreshing.

Northern Thailand: The dining car on the train.
  The dining car is really nothing fancy just some hard tables and chairs.  I get some orange juice which I find is rather expensive at 120 baht ($3.50).  Back at my seat they are starting to convert the beds back to seats.  It is daylight now and we can see where we are .  We can see fairly large hills around us sometimes and we occasionally pass through small towns that have quaint little train stations.  Eventually, and right on time, we arrive in Chiang Mai.  

And it is time to go to my next journal day..........................

flying_dolphin7 says:
Wow interesting travel page.. i miss Bangkok:)
Posted on: Feb 25, 2008
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Ko Lanta:  Leaving Ko Lanta on the…
Ko Lanta: Leaving Ko Lanta on th…
Krabi:  Getting on my Nok Air flig…
Krabi: Getting on my Nok Air fli…
Bangkok:  Hualamphong train statio…
Bangkok: Hualamphong train stati…
Bangkok:  Chinatown in Bangkok.
Bangkok: Chinatown in Bangkok.
Bangkok:  Selling various items on…
Bangkok: Selling various items o…
Bangkok:  Chinatown in Bangkok.
Bangkok: Chinatown in Bangkok.
Bangkok:  A narrow alley in Chinat…
Bangkok: A narrow alley in China…
Bangkok:  Street vendors in Chinat…
Bangkok: Street vendors in China…
Bangkok:  A narrow alley in Chinat…
Bangkok: A narrow alley in China…
Bangkok:  Hulamphong train station.
Bangkok: Hulamphong train station.
Bangkok:  Hulamphong train station.
Bangkok: Hulamphong train station.
Northern Thailand:  The dining car…
Northern Thailand: The dining ca…
Bangkok:  A narrow alley in Chinat…
Bangkok: A narrow alley in China…
Bangkok:  A narrow alley in Chinat…
Bangkok: A narrow alley in China…
Bangkok:  A street food vendor in …
Bangkok: A street food vendor in…
Bangkok:  Street scene near Hualam…
Bangkok: Street scene near Huala…
Bangkok:  Hulamphong train station.
Bangkok: Hulamphong train station.
Bangkok:  The conductor on the tra…
Bangkok: The conductor on the tr…
Bangkok
photo by: Deats