Sunday, 23 November 2008

Overnight train to Bangkok

So myself and Jamal escaped the meagre charms of Vientiane. A few hours later, and we were back on Thai soil. Another 9 hours on the train, and were ready to make our respective plans.

The journey was fairly uneventful. And the standard of train and bunk is far better than that of Vietnam's. I picked the bunk at the end by the door, a mistake I was to rue later, and I gave Jamal a ticket opposite an elderly Swedish woman who had been on the bus to the border. She wouldn't shut up...so there was no way I fancied having my ear bent all the way to Bangkok. Not on your nelly, love. I was feeling quite smug for about 5 minutes until I turned to see said old dear giving Jamal fruit, cake and fizzy pop. Eh? We hadn't eaten for about 8 hours, thinking there'd be somewhere to eat at the railway station. No such luck. To top it all, people passing through the carriage kept leaving the door open, so we could hear the rattle of steel wheel on track and point. Jamal fell asleep within minutes. I was left, red eyed, to curse every thoughtless fool passing through that door. As was the American opposite me.

We struck up a conversation. He's half-Morroccan, half Yank. Married to a Thai with a lovely tattoo on her leg, actually. Having lived all over Thailand for years, having never returned from a holiday he took, he had some tales to tell. Some amusing, some downright disturbing. One was related to the tsunami which crushed the Andaman coast. A friend of his was a dive instructor, miles out to sea with a group. They had heard nothing underwater, and did not have a radio switched on. So when they returned to land, an obvious picture of utter horror lay before them. Friends and colleagues gone. Homes and businesses strewn across miles of wasteland. And the grim sight of a dead pregnant Western woman on a beach. How you quite deal with that, I'll never know. Apparently, some Westerners dealt with it by heading for the Gulf and East Coast to continue their holidays. How some people sleep at night...

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