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Published: July 21st 2013
Tuesday - The day of the dreaded night train. Jess and I didn't book the train until Tuesday morning, by which time the only space left was on the 14.5 hour long 10pm train, in a seat in fan class. This is not a prospect we were looking forward to at all, but was the only train option for 2 days, and still a preferable option when compared to the buses. We were however not looking forward to the journey at all.
Fortunately we were very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the seats on the train and the copious amount of leg room - it was more comfortable than my flight! Luckily all the windows on the train opened too, and being late at night this provided a nice cool breeze. The only problem was bugs could get in too, but luckily they didn't bite us too much.
At 8:30am, just when I'd started nodding off to sleep the train stopped and the conductor told us we all had to get off and to get on a different train. Nothing we could do but believe him and follow his directions! By another train it turns out he actually meant 3 double-decker buses, which were to take us for the remainder of the journey. Despite the much less comfortable seats I managed to get plenty of sleep until we arrived in Chiang Mai.
We later found out from a girl in our hostel that our bus replacement was due to the previous train to Chiangmai, the one she was on, derailing. I count myself extremely lucky to have not been on that train, as a number of people were injured, and it sounds like it was a very frightening experience.
Upon arrival we managed to get a shared taxi to our accommodation - a very lovely, very accommodating hostel, with an extremely enthusiastic hostess. As soon as we were checked in we were told where was good to go to lunch, a small cafe that can be seen from the hostel, and after we sat down our hostess even joined us on the next table and told us we should try Kow Soi, the local dish. It was lovely, I'm glad we took her recommendation.
After lunch we were also pointed in the direction of Chinatown, very close to our hostel, where there were plenty of lovely shops and market stalls selling a wide variety of crafts and clothing, especially items made by members of northern hill tribes.
This evening we had a walk into the old city beyond the city gates, and I finally found Asian pancakes! Which I was looking for the whole time in Bangkok but didn't find, so ended up having 2 with Nutella, at different stalls along our walk. The old city looks really nice, with a couple of places looking familiar from last time I visited. We will come and explore the temples tomorrow and see more of the old city by daylight.
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