Erin recalls a little cart down near Rambuttri where she had a breakfast of dumplings for the bargain price of 20 baht yesterday. Sounds like a good idea, so off we head.
All along the main road there are food stalls setting up for the day’s trade. We find the dumpling lady and order a mixed serve each, wandering the streets while we chomp away. The dumplings are delicious.
Today is our only day to explore Bangkok as tonight we leave for our next destination. So Sar leads us through the streets to catch a bus to our first stop of the day, Way Pho. The trick to catching the bus is to haul it to a stop and then scamper up the massive stairs before it takes off. The bus is a massive bulk of a thing with wooden floors and old school style bench seats. It bellows out smoke as it makes its way through the streets.
We change buses at the grounds of the Grand Palace, which is crowded with people. This is where the King is currently lying in state. Many are camping out here from outlying provinces and makeshift facilities have been set up to cater for this.
A short ride later, we arrive at Wat Pho, also know as the home of the reclining Buddha. The Buddha lays inside the wat, which is an elaborate building, covered in gold decorative carving, surrounded by colourful mosaic stupas and fragrant temple trees (frangipanis).
Another type of tree can also be found in the temple grounds – Thailand’s national flower, the Flower of Rarchaphraek. Sar shows us a first glimpse of his wicked sense of humour as he chuckled over their national flower being more commonly known as ‘golden showers’. Even funnier, he thinks, is how the Thai accent makes it sound like ‘cemen’ was used to build the temple.
Wat next? We head down past numerous stalls and through the back of some markets to the river. From here we’ll be boarding a long tail boat for a ride through the khlongs. About six of us board each of the colourful boats. Getting in the boats proves a task not for the faint hearted, but soon we are bumping over the waves towards the khlongs.
Wooden homes in various degrees of decay line the banks. Every now and again we reach a loch gate and we have to sit and wait our turn to pass through and continue our journey. The massive gates open ever so slowly to let us through.
Soon we arrive at a dock near to Rambuttri, so we disembark. It’s free time for the afternoon and to get ready to depart Bangkok this evening for Chiang Mai.
Several of us opt for lunch first. We stop by ‘Magic Thai’ and at 40 baht, my Pad Thai was not only much, much cheaper than last night’s meal (which came in at 180 baht), but also delicious.
Then we go our separate ways to prepare for this evening, buying snacks, spending some time by the rooftop pool, packing and even time for a cocktail or two.
At the designated time, we load our bags into a couple of minivans and head for the train station. We arrive with enough time to grab a quick dinner – this time rice, Thai omelette and a beer for 110 baht – I’m getting better at this! We still have a bit of time left to wait, so a couple of us decide to get our fortunes read by the fortune telling machine (yes, that should ring alarm bells). I’m not sure exactly what it means when you are given your fortune and this happens….
Eek! No time to dwell on that because it’s time to board our train. We are traveling by sleeper carriage and will be arriving into Chiang Mai in the early morning. The journey takes between 12 and 15 hours depending on how many stops are made. The carriages consist of four beds, bunk style, with a small table under the window sill. We’ve been advised to use the toilets early on as they get filthy pretty early on in the journey. People chat, read, listen to music or play cards to while away the time and at around 8.30pm, staff come through the train to make up the beds.
Struggling to keep warm even with my zip up hoody on, I finally fall asleep, but throughout most of the night I’m aware of some part of me or another being cold.