Bangkok airport was a shock to the system – exactly as we expected. We knew all about the aggressive approach of touts pushing their services and products and yet the wave was overpowering. Thankfully (mostly due to our minimal luggage) we managed to escape the hordes and opted to take a local bus into the city. It provided an instant window to Bangkok and we relished the new sights and smells of a new foreign city. With the help of a local, we timed our jump off the bus well and made our way toward a nearby subway. Destination – Hualampong Train station.
We desperately tried to orientate ourselves in this chaotic frenzy of the hot and sweaty train station. An enthusiastic decision to get some ice-creams turned out to be out first Thailand food disaster as the ‘black rice’ that specked the ice-cream was absolutely horrid! Lesson learned. Next time when we want chocolate ice cream, read the packaging - carefully!
A brief saunter from the train station took us through some interesting parts of China Town – the highlight was stumbling upon a giant Buda! The smells and sights were all new and yet in a way very familiar.
THAILAND SLEEPER TRAIN
We boarded our sleeper train heading south at around 7 pm – longing for a shower but still happy to at least be able to stretch our legs and lie down for a bit. Sleeping, however, remained only a pipe-dream as our train apparently sported square wheels and somehow managed to find potholes in the tracks! We shuddered and shook our way into the darkness - eventually drifting into some welcome albeit uncomfortable sleep. Waking up at 3:30 we prepared to be disposed of on the deserted platform of Chumporn.
We mistakenly took a shuttle with the wrong ferry company and ended up outside a 24-hour restaurant called “Farang Bar” (literally meaning foreigner bar). Unsurprisingly the place was stacked with backpacker type youngsters awaiting a ferry transfer to the islands – even at this hour. We decided to walk the quiet streets and by chance happened upon our actual ferry operator’s office where we stayed until collected.
The ferry ride was a strange affair. The two and a half hours chugging past tiny islands was spent between sweating on the humid deck and freezing downstairs in the cabin. We looked around but couldn’t find any evidence to support our suspicion that the downstairs cabin doubled as a meat freezer. For the second time in almost 24 hours, I longed for that warm top lying at home.
On the ferry leaving Chumporn: