A hellish train journey (2023)

A hellish train journey (1)

Freshen up.

Him: Ronny retired professional firefighter

She: Angela former student of Thaivlac Thai language course

Angela and Ronny (journey of 2010) have now arrived at the train station of Phitsanulok where they would travel to Chiang Mai by comfortable air-conditioned sprinter train. However, everything does not go as expected…

Still without any idea what was in store for us, I went to the ticket office in a good mood and showed the train ticket. Along with a typical Thai smile, I was told that the train was already 90 minutes late. My smile was hard to find! Lap, that started well.

To kill time we went to install ourselves at a food stall to eat something. Fortunately, the rickety chair was in the shade because it had already become very hot. The train normally departed at 13.19:XNUMX pm. Around half past two I went to inquire again: “three hours delay”. Yes, my lip was already hanging on the ground. One plus point… because we were 'farangs' we were allowed to enjoy the luxury of waiting for the train in a separate room with air conditioning. The Thais themselves were sleeping stoically outside on the floor or quietly waiting for the train. There were still four stranded couples in the waiting room and it was extremely instructive to listen to the different stories.

It was about 17.00 p.m. when the train pulled into the station. Now to solve the problem with my suitcase, you don't just lift 20 kg! First some wrangling to get them through that narrow door and then find a place to park them. Fortunately, there was a space behind the last row of seats. According to my husband, I shouldn't worry about someone walking with my suitcase. With such a weight no one got off the train unseen! After three hours we noticed that the train started acting strange. It jerked and spluttered, sometimes stopping, then moving a few yards to stop again. The landscape was gradually changing and went from flat to hilly. Dusk was already beginning to fall. In the semidarkness I could just make out that the train track ran over a deep ravine. Sweat broke out on me. The train had a really hard time coping with the steep climb. We didn't move meters forward, but centimeters. Suddenly… the train rolled backwards! Back over the ravine and kept reversing until we got back to the last station. Man, man… I really didn't feel well. After waiting for some time, another locomotive was coupled and pulled us over the terrifying ravine again towards Lampang.

In the meantime, the conductor had found a Thai woman who could explain to the tourists in English what was going to happen. The new locomotive would not go beyond Lampang where we would transfer to buses. The arrival in Chiang Mai would no longer happen that same day!!! Everyone started texting or calling their guesthouse or hotel frantically: “Please hold my room because we are delayed” became the most heard phrase. Our hostess Annelore from Villa Anneloi would indeed pick us up at the station at 20:30 PM… Oh dear! My mood went down more and more, especially if you have a travel companion who sees nothing as a problem: “whether you walk around in a good or bad mood, you can't change anything”. Well, he had already mastered the Thai “mai pen rai”! I am simply a doomsayer, but he remains an optimist to the core and that can collide once in a while. I already saw us spend the night in Lampang.

To my great surprise, the buses were already waiting for us when we arrived in Lampang. Unfortunately, their number was not enough for everyone. I quickly boarded a bus and saved a seat for my other half. He had to take care of the luggage… some had to continue by taxi. In the bus they served another rice dish. Of course I didn't get any nerves, but my husband enjoyed it and ate mine too. It was already after midnight and Annelore sent a message: “take a taxi because it will be too late for me”. Her address was also not very well known to the taxi driver and after some wandering we finally arrived at Villa Anneloi around 01.00 am where the motto is: “Feel at home Far from home”. www.villa-anneloi.com.

Involuntarily I had to think of an advertisement of the Belgian Railways: “you would have already been there by train”!

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7 Responses to “A hellish train journey”

  1. Rob V says up

    15 January 2020 at 07: 50

    An adventurous journey, then at least you have something to tell about. Those few hours of delay are a pity, but not a problem if you don't have important appointments? Everything will be fine, let go of what you can't change anyway. 🙂

    But I have to confess, when I go from BKK to Khonkaen I take the bus. A long train journey through half the country is fun for once, but not as a standard means of transport.

  2. Joop van den Berg says up

    15 January 2020 at 11: 52

    Yesterday I took the train to Chiang Mai. Could only buy 2 tickets at 13.45pm departure so no sooner said than done. Train 109 the rapid version. He stopped almost everywhere and also waited for single-track sections of track. 15 hours sat and stood for the legs.
    Too bad I didn't see your ravine, but the loco had to toil.

    Furthermore, it was manageable, plenty of legroom, but buy a ticket well in advance.

    Regards Joop


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  3. George says up

    15 January 2020 at 14: 05

    Rather the slower trains than the sometimes roaring buses in Thailand and in the train you can move around and sit next to someone else, especially if you travel 2nd class like me and have a nice and sometimes long conversation.


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  4. TheoB says up

    15 January 2020 at 19: 08

    Once again a nicely written report Angela, but geez you are such a stress chicken. 😉
    It seems as if you are at work and the deadlines are rapidly approaching.
    It's a good thing you're only in Thailand for short periods, because if you stayed here for longer you would literally be annoyed by the lack of punctuality and planning.
    Try to convince yourself that you are on vacation, nothing is required, everything is allowed. Make a vague plan of what you want to do in the available time. Plan as little as possible in as much time as possible. Don't be rushed, you can come back again and pick up where you left off, right? “Go with the flow”, let yourself be surprised.
    In my experience, the lower the budget, the more interesting it becomes. Determine at set times for yourself what the minimum luxury is that you want from then on.
    I understand from your reports that Ronny has much less or even no difficulty with letting go, changing plans and improvising. And that he can do with much less luxury than you.

    I wish you lots of fun and interesting experiences on holiday in Thailand (or anywhere). 🙂


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  5. Dees says up

    15 January 2020 at 21: 45

    Trains to the north have never seen them on time. In the night 2 trips for 6 euros I found the best experience of going by train. And if you arrive…

    Indeed, plan as little as possible in as much time as possible, as Theo indicates. Let it go and come over you.


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  6. John Scheys says up

    16 January 2020 at 00: 22

    Just unlucky. Can happen in any country that the train breaks down.
    With a smile and indeed Mai Pen Rai, it doesn't matter!
    Don't get excited because you're on vacation.
    That's why I never take the train but the comfortable VIP buses that are punctual and MUCH FASTER.
    The train in Thailand is very slow.
    I have taken many night buses in my 30 years in Thailand and NEVER had any problems.


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  7. Thai people says up

    16 January 2020 at 16: 32

    We went on the night train from Bkk to Chiang Mai with 4 kids last August and really enjoyed it. A bit of chugging then stand still again and drive on again and so many times.
    Beautiful old stations.

    We were apparently lucky that the train left on time and oh well it's a holiday we didn't care how late we arrived.
    Thought it went according to plan.
    Except that those blasphemers have been running until 01:00 local time….

    I thought it was ideal and a new experience for 4 kids.


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