Is getting 3rd class character building?

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October 9th 2009
Published: October 15th 2009
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Remember the last blog where I said 3rd class train to Sukothai would be adventurous? Well it was. It was also torturous and horrendous. We arrived at the train station to find that the next train was fully booked and the next one was three hours later. “Not to worry, I’ll have two of those tickets then please”. As we sat down to get comfortable for our wait, Michelle asked what time we arrive in Phitsanluk at. I had presumed it would only be a four hour journey as the train we wanted to get originally, only took 4hrs. When I looked at the ticket the time of arrival was 17:50. That would be over a six hour journey, and only if it was running on time. We sat and waited and eventually the train arrived 45mins late. There was a big rush to get on the train and no one could get on or off because people were pushing all sides to get on. I’ve said it before and I’ll probably end up saying it again, but when it comes to transport of any kind, Asians loose the run of themselves altogether. An example of this would be flights in SE Asia. As soon as the back wheels of the plane land on the runway, all you can hear in one instance, is the collective release of all the safety belts, as if it was cutting of the flow to their legs and that the pilot was going to drop them off out there. Anyway, enough on that.

We needed to get a connecting bus to Sukothai when we arrived in Phitsanluk but the last bus left at 6pm. There was no way we were going to make it. Firstly the train had to arrive there on time and then we would have to make it to the bus station, although the bus would more than likely be running late too! We said we’d stay in Phitsanluk for the night and then get the first bus to Sukothai. We didn’t panic either that we didn’t know where to stay or what the town was going to be like, which we probably would have in our first three months of travel. Instead we just took it in our stride and said not to worry, we’ll just get to Sukothai the next day. There’ll be a bed for us somewhere in Phitsanluk.

Getting on the train was as hard as it gets. Our rucksacks couldn’t fit down the isle with all the people and there were no seats. It was hot and sticky and although we were laughing at our ‘adventurous’ predicament, the thoughts of standing for six hours on a train, really wasn’t that funny. Guys and girls selling drinks and food walked up and down the aisles of the train. Every two seconds you’d have to squeeze up against a stranger to let them pass. We both said if it gets to a stage where we cant take it, we will just get off at the next station. Remember six hours is a long time standing in one spot, never mind on a hot and sticky train. An hour passed and a guy in and army suit waves down towards my self and Michelle. He was telling us there was a spare seat. Michelle was hesitant until I pointed out that if she doesn’t take the seat and sit down it means I will never be able to sit down. You see, if she took the seat we could share it for the journey, but I couldn’t take it as, well, that would be ungentle manly. My motives though, had nothing to do with being a gentleman!

Michelle sat down beside three old Thai ladies who had no English. They communicated through the army officer, asking her many questions. One Thai lady was trying to learn English and thought Michelle might be able to help. They all seemed to be having fun while I continued my journey from hell. Another while passed and a Thai lady gave me a big hit on the back. She pointed out an empty seat and kept pointing repeatedly as if to say hurry up before someone else gets it. I jumped at the opportunity and felt instant relief as my ass hit the seat. The old ladies talked away to me in Thai and I hadn’t a clue what they were on about. They would say something, I would shrug my shoulders and they would laugh and giggle. After time the seat beside me became empty and a young girl sat down. The lady who got me my seat asked her to swap with Michelle so we could sit together. Its really nice the amount of kindness we have received in Thailand. People looking out for us all the time. Even the guy sitting across from us gave us a big wave when he got off the train. We hadn’t even spoken two words to him. One bad thing about Thai people though, is that they throw all there rubbish out the window and most of it is plastic bags or bottles. You wouldn’t believe how much plastic gets thrown out the window. I suppose its lack of education with regards pollution and something that maybe over time will change.

We got a room no problem in Phitsanluk for the measly sum of €3 for a double room. The bed though was as hard as concrete. I think it was only a sheet over a piece of wood. Up early the next morning we got the bus to Sukothai. Our guesthouse owners picked us up at the station, which was a nice touch, and gave us a quick insight into the town on the way there. We got a nice fan room there for €5 and it was as good as any hotel room. TR guesthouse was the name of the place. He had advised us not to miss the food festival that was happening in the town so we went down there that evening for a look. There was lots of different foods but because it was the last night it was very busy. There was lots of fried squid for sale and most of the stalls were selling fish. We picked at a few different bits and then decided we needed to sit down for and have something proper. As there was a food festival a lot of places were closed in the town and down at the market. We did find one place though. I ordered first and the Michelle ordered Papaya salad. The girl asked her did she want it spicy and she said she did. I looked at Michelle surprised and she looked back as if to say I know what I’m doing. I thought fair enough. Our food came and we started eating. Soon I noticed Michelle had finished her water and was ordering more. It was way to spicy to eat. As I have a higher tolerance for it, I said we’d swap. I ate two spoon full’s and couldn’t eat any more. Our mouths were on fire. I couldn’t even eat the rest of the other dinner. It was the hottest thing I have ever had. I’ve even finished a Vindaloo not so long ago and that was nothing compared to the spicy papaya salad. It burned like hell for 10 or so minutes until it finally calmed down. What ever you do, always think twice before you ask for spicy off a Thai!

Next day we rented a small scooter of our guesthouse and drove out to the old city. The temples were pretty much the same as Ayutthaya but not as many of them. It was a lot easier to get around the temples though because no traffic was allowed through it. It was very quite and peaceful and although the temples were not as good as Ayutthaya(in my opinion), they were still amazing. The are plenty of green areas surrounding the temples and lakes as well.

Next up is a return visit to Chiang Mai. This time we’ve pre-booked the train we want and got 2nd class air-con. 3rd class is adventurous but not for me. Some people think its character building, I would have to disagree.
In a bit. DH

Song of the blog: Travis - Sing

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15th October 2009

Ha ha
Very descriptive daz....for a sec i felt lik i was almost there with ye! very very gud, really enjoyed it! :)

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