Second Time Around travel blog


Big tuk-tuk

Not our train

Getting around has been made simple by the work of our leader, Rong. He is constantly on the phone to drivers or offices to make sure our group is swooped up and deposited where needed.

Our bus out of Bangkok was a local. It had air conditioning (AC or air-con) and a toilet. We only used the air con. We were told we might be joined by small farm animals but we did not have that good fortune.

We have occasional passenger vans, but typically are loaded into rear-access over-sized tuk-tuks. I'm sure they are the cheapest option. I think odds of anyone surviving any kind of collision in one would be about one in 50.

Our overnight train was in one of Thai railroad's newest kits. Regular readers may remember my fall Amtrak cross-country trip. The Thai sleeper was newer, as comfortable and as quiet as having an Amtrak sleeper. Beds were two high the length of the car and already made up when we boarded at 7:45 P.M. I slept fine even though the lights were never turned off: eye shades are a traveler's friend.

Rong told us drinking alcohol is prohibited on the train. It seems the government got fed up with drunk passengers, especially those who got into fights with other drunk passengers.

As we were in semi-private conditions, sharing the aisle with 50-60 others and only a curtain to close, I didn't bother to change clothes for the night. My one disappointment was that virtually all of the ride was in the dark, so I didn't get to experience the potential tedium of the countryside rolling by.

Once somewhere, we typically walk. If walking alone or with Mo, I get regular solicitation from cabbies and tuk-tuk drivers. If walking as a group, we are ignored.

Driving is on the left side, probably a result of English colonial influence. As a pedestrian, I have to constantly remind myself to look both ways at least twice.

We have to be assertive when crossing with a green light, as drivers consider an empty crosswalk to be right of way.

The wise pedestrian seeks shade whenever possible. The heat is real - about 103▫ F yesterday, I was told. Today was a manageable 94 or so. This is why most markets happen after 6 P.M. I understand we'll be walking to a market tonight.

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