Our quicker than expected journey to the Bangkok rail station resulted in us getting there with 2 hours to spare, which in turn, gave us time to check out the station shops.
A few snacks were bought which we hoped would ease the pain of what was ahead of us. We sat as a group on the floor of the large waiting area along with all the locals as we all awaited our various trains to arrive at their designated platforms.
There was a special cordoned off area set aside exclusively for monks. Especially revered, the monks had ornately carved wooden chairs to sit on. The monk in the front row had a nasal inhaler stuck up his nose.
Our smart looking train arrived and we were allowed to board over an hour before our due departure. We found our respective berths and settled in. There were three Intrepid groups all leaving Bangkok on the same train and we all ended up in the same carriage.
Our destination for this part of our journey was Surat Thani. We left on time at 19.30 and slowly made our way through the suburbs of Bangkok. By now it was dinner time and many of us had opted to have the set menu on the train rather than buy stuff at the station – far more exciting! I chose chicken with cashews which came with a bowl of watery cabbage soup, rice and a red curry. It turned out to be very tasty and a good choice.
Our 2nd class carriage was set out with longitudinal berths, one above the other. Surprisingly, they were exceptionally comfy… ah! comfy. I’ve been here too long already as I’ve just spelled comfy with the Thai “ph” instead of an “f”… that’s the second time as the first occurred in notes I wrote earlier!
Our conductor made up our beds with a sheet, pillow and blanket and we all turned in behind our brand new blue curtains by 21.30. I was dreading what was ahead but must say that the carriages were closely coupled so there was no rocking backwards and forwards on stopping and starting. I was in the top bunk so couldn’t even sense when we started from each stop until the train gained some considerable speed. I couldn’t see out. I slept for around 2 hour periods at a time so had a very much more restful sleep than I had anticipated. Bed tea arrived early morning and at THB40 was a steal.
The train journey to Surat Thani gave me time to reflect on the group I was travelling with on the first part of this journey (I was to change groups half way through).
I was to share all the way with Brian Smith, an American from Colorado. A 46 y-o old, very easy-going American. I guessed we’d get on pretty well together… and we did.
Twelve in the group, four guys, eight girls; all seemed to gell very well.. so far, so good. I’m the oldest by 3 years, the youngest was just 18. She was to have her 19th birthday later on during the trip. We hail from Australia, Switzerland, Canada, the UK, and the States. One of my fellow travellers is a garden tour guide! She was born in the UK but now lives in the USA. We have lots in common; ideas etc. to be explored over the following weeks.
Our guide to Singapore is Alif… not a Thai name I said, to which he agreed. He said he was a ‘wok stir fry’ of Arabic, Thai and Chinese extraction. A very likeable fellow in his mid to late 20’s, maybe into his early 30’s. How can you tell?!
We arrived at our destination, Surat Thani, on time at 07.30 and walked directly across the road and awaited breakfast in a local cafe. I chose to have a couple of fried eggs, ham and two pieces of toast and a cappuccino…I’m a little bit tired of rice for every meal so far. I’ll get back to the ‘Thai’ thing as time progresses and the options diminish.
After breakfast we boarded private mini-buses for the 90 minute drive out on the 401 highway to Khao Sok National Park. Our accommodation was listed as the ‘Morning Mist Resort’ which is located on the edge of the park. But more about that anon.
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