So after the hustle and bustle of the Jordan and Cambodia portions of the trip where we were pretty much go-go-go everyday looking at great shit, we decided that some relaxing beach action was required. Now only to get there…
We mapped out our route from Siem Reap to our lovely beach bungalow on the island of Koh Phangnan, Thailand. What was the cheapest way of getting there? Trains, planes and automobiles. We took a total of eight different vehicles (I was hoping for a Zeppelin but to no avail) over a span of 27 hours to reach our destination. They ranged from cool and enjoyable things like Mr. Moth’s Tuk-tuk to one particular nightmarish hellride.
A quick one hour flight from Cambodia to Bangkok was followed by a speedy cab ride to the train station. OK so far! Only a 12 hour overnight train ride stood in front of us. No worries, it’ll be fun we told ourselves. I can plug in the computer and watch a film or two. We each get our own sleeping bunk. There’s a restaurant car for some eats and drinks. It’s all good.
We had a few hours to kill before the train so we popped across the street for a couple of beers. Saw a couple of monks hanging out at the 7-Eleven eating Pocky and chatting on their cell phones. Don’t see that everyday.
First, a quick stop in one of the most disgusting bathrooms I’ve ever encountered (and I’ve seen some doozies in my time) in the train station. An overwhelming stench of feces, piss and death assaulted the nostrils as one peed into a very well-used trough. The sinks had fetid wet towels rolled up in front of them (no idea what they were for, didn’t want to find out). The sink I used was full of hair. Poor Swanson had to use a stall just after a huge sweaty guy emerged from it (didn’t flush the toilet either). And on top of it all one had to actually pay to use the bathroom. It was so gross. Anyways, onto the train!
I did my best to try to hide my utter disappointment regarding the train accommodations. (I’m not very good at doing this, as Tami pointed out). It was really cold due to the air conditioning, there were no plug ins, so no movies and after the beds were folded down, I realized that mine was about a foot shorter than I am. Well, let’s go to the restaurant car and have something to eat and drink! That was a mistake as well. They had stopped serving booze on the trains earlier in the year due to some undisclosed “incident”. Bummer. But that wasn’t a big deal as I just would have had to use the gross train bathrooms more during the night. After I brushed off all the ants that were clamouring all over the table, we ordered some food. It was OK – bland and lifeless much like the train itself. But no sooner had I got rid of the ants, they were back with reinforcements. Damn things.
So we settled into our bunks for the night. First time I’ve gone to bed at 8pm in a long time. It was cramped, but somewhat cozy I guess. It’ll give me some time to read my book – I was about 700 pages into the 12,000 page of the 5th book of Game of Thrones: A Wearing of Pants or something like that. I turned on my little light and it was all good. Until a short while later when my light battery died. Time for sleep. Hah! Trying to sleep on the incredibly loud and bouncy train was akin to sleeping in a blender on a roller coaster! I kept picturing a toy train being shook and tossed about by a psychopathic toddler. Or a kitten that was being swatted around by a bad man. I was really feeling sorry for myself at this point, wishing I was in my warm bed at home instead of sloshing around this hell car hurtling through the dark Thai night. Swanson amazed me once again as he slept the entire night while I managed maybe 1 -2 hours.
Six am in the morning and we’re here. Or somewhere. My brain was a little scattered. We jump on a bus for an hour that takes us to the water where we board a small weird shuttle to get to our boat – an ageing steamer (that sounds gross!).
We sat out in the sun for about 2 1/2 hours having to endure the 3 idiots form India getting progressively drunk on Breezers. They were rude and boorish and moronic making fun of the way the locals talked and such. Swanson even leaned over to me at one point and said, “These guys are pretty dumb, eh Dad?” I imagine that they were going to the full moon party later that night. I hope that they barfed all over each other and passed out before is got dark.
We made it to the island and climbed into to back of our hosts pickup to be whisked away to our final destination. A long trip but well worth it. Now for a month of sun and beach and good food and drinks and…