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Thailand, January 9, 2000

There is Style in a Thai Train

I like getting romantic on a Thai train

Oh, the chrome and plastic convenience!
Cold, clean, and comfortable
The Trains of Thailand rank somewhere just below Chinese and Russian trains. They are not as nice as either, being much older than Chinese trains, and more basic than the Russian ones, though there are good points.

First, since the ticket agents speak English, and the main train station in Bangkok is very organized (they even had showers for travelers!), I was very happy to spend my money with the Thai version. Once on the train, a few distractions appeared.

The Thai trains not new like the Chinese trains. I'm not sure if they are older than the Russian ones, for everything in Russia has a timeless 1950's quality. They show their age in the basic and well-worn interiors. Now, don't get me wrong, they are not dirty or trashed, but more like an old shoe. If you looked closely, yes, the treads were showing, but the fit was very comfortable and from a distance, all looked worthy.

With metal grills on the inside of the windows, I wondered if the Thai's worried about safety, until I realized they were for shade in the summertime. This heat-inspired ingenuity followed in oscillating fans on the ceiling and a shower in the toilet. Luckily, as it is winter I didn't need either, and late at night, I was happy for the thin blanket provided with the bed.

The bed itself was an odd trick. With the bottom bunk converting from facing chairs and the top folding down from the ceiling, the services of the porter were relieving. He came along after dinner, which was expensive by Thai standards but very tasty, and created the two bunks from what was a rather spacious seating arrangement.

After he created the beds, he hung curtains from each to create two little worlds separated from the main hallway. This little gesture endeared me to Thai trains forever! Unlike the ridiculously public, six to an open cubicle Chinese trains, and the more private, but still four to a closed compartment Russian trains, Thai's know that to properly enjoy a train ride, privacy at night is required. Privacy for all the moans that a slow, rhythmic, romantic, overnight train produces, which is great for couples but annoying for voyeuristic singles.

Like all overnight trains, the Thai train I took from Bangkok to Surat Thani, arrived in the center of the city at a reasonable hour. I exited the train with decency only a train can provide. No wrestling with overhead compartments. No long walk down endless corridors. No waiting at baggage carousels. It was straight off the train to the bus for Koh Samui for me!

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1 Comment

You must have been on the Rapid train as the Special Expresses have modern carriage. Most Expresses have cars that were built by either Korean or Japanese in the late 1990's, far from 1950's carriages that you mentioned on Russian ones. I enjoy train ride in Thailand as it is very relaxing and chances to meet interesting locals and foreigners.

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