Published: February 20th 2008February 19th 2008
Due to the great distance, we decided to break up our journey to Bangkok by stopping a few places for an overnight stay.
Took the Ferry to Phuket where we stayed for one night. We stayed in Phuket Town which wasn't all that impressive. Definitely saw signs of the rampant prostitution that the area is known for.
Took a LONG bus ride from Phuket to Chumphon. This took basically all day and was another rather windy route that had us swearing off bus travel for a while by the end, trying to hold our lunch at every turn. Being that it was a "local" bus, they really packed the people on and we stopped a million times to take on more passengers or let others off. Luckily we smelled worse than the locals so we didn't notice their smell too much. But since the roads were windy and the aisles were packed with people, it was common for the standing people to practically fall in our laps at every turn. Not a pleasant experience. We stopped one place for lunch but as soon as we ordered our food (included with the ticket), it was time
to go so we scarfed down a few bites of what seemed to be miscellaneous animal parts and jumped back on the bus.
We were very glad to arrive in Chumphon by the end of it. We were even more glad to find a cheap room that was the nicest room we've seen in our travels...and almost one of the cheapest! Will try to remember the name and post for other travellers.
The first alarm went off at 4:45...the second one may not have ever gone off...but at 5:20, Trevor suddently looked at his watch and we jumped out of bed and 9 minutes later we were out the door, only to have to wait for 10 minutes in the lobby for the desk clerk so we could get our key deposit back. We were up before the sun to catch the train we thought was at 6:15...turns out it wasn't scheduled to leave until 6:42 so we had time to run over to 7-11 for breakfast. On the way back from 7-11, we saw a train sitting at the station and figured it must be ours so rather than walk all the way to the station we decided to hop on the end closest to where we were. We got on and had difficulty finding a seat as it was full of people spread out sleeping all over the place. But we did find some seats and got settled in across from a nice German couple who helped us figure out where to put bags. Suddenly the train started moving and it seemed to be going the wrong direction. We quickly asked if it was headed to Bangkok to which the couple surprisingly said NO! We frantically grabbed our bags and pushed our way to the door. Trevor, the brave one, went first and lept to the ground. I threw the backpack and took a leap just as the train started to go faster. Our legs were shaking a little but soon we were laughing at our train jumping experience. We climbed up onto the platform and realized how stupid we'd been to even get on the train as we still had a half hour before our departure and sure enough, there were loads of people waiting for the Bangkok train.
For such a crazy morning, it was a pretty long, monotonous train ride through rice patties and various other farms and towns. We saw Palm oil plantations, latex trees, pig farms, chicken farms, goose farms, rice patties, some kind of aquaculture farms (maybe catfish, carp, and maybe shrimp?), pineapple fields, and coconut trees. We stopped what seemed like every 15 minutes at a different station so it took a long time to get to Bangkok. Also at every couple stops, occasionally we'd get a different food vendor that would come on the train selling various items, some of which were recognizable, some were not. The food vendors were kind of neat at first but it sort of wore on us after a while since they were up and down the car what seemed like every 5 minutes yelling out the same thing over and over trying to convince you to buy their stuff. The train we took was the "ordinary" train, which trust me, was not ordinary by our standards. The seats were rigid and uncomfortable, the A/C consisted of opening the windows, and it was super slow. But at a fifth of the cost and what seemed to be about the same timing, it was a no brainer when we bought our tickets.
Arrived into Bangkok's Thonburi station around 5 PM and walked through the maze of streets to get to where all the backpacker places are (near khao Sahn road). Found a cheap place with a decent room and after walking around for a bit, grabbing some dinner, we called it a night since we both didn't feel so well.
Lesson Learned: if we were to do this leg again, it would have been better just to fly from Phuket to Bangkok!