I love trains, mostly

Vagabond Tim
Let me start by saying I love trains. Also Thailand is beautiful. BUT. And this is a big butt, like heavyset Brazilian woman big. Thailand is suffering from a serious and nearly incurable disease known as tourism.

It’s one thing to have a bunch of people wander through your country and look at temples etc. It’s entirely another to set up a Starbucks the locals cannot afford on every corner and stage monkey knife fights so over-caffeinated high spending westerners can gawk at it.

Thailand has abused elephants, destroyed forests, and overburdened their sewer systems as it cannot cope with the influx of digestive systems reacting poorly to local food. As is common in Asia the toilets are not designed to process toilet paper, the average tourist doesn’t take this into account. Before you visit be prepared for the fact that you will have to use a sort of high powered fire hose instead.

The main roads in the major cities are full of scamming overcharging weasels hawking the cheapest garbage they can find, tuktuk drivers who start by asking for three times what a trip is worth, and more goddamn Starbucks.

That complaining about the irresponsible way tourists change places aside, if you wander a bit off the beaten track it gets pretty wonderful again. The people are quite charming and friendly, the bar scene is great and doesn’t stop until a few hours after sunrise, and getting around can be pretty inexpensive. Which leads to my train story.

I had to leave Thailand before my visa expired so I headed up to Bangkok. Flights from Bangkok are invariably cheaper than from Chiang Mai, I didn’t exactly have a destination in mind, but it didn’t really matter.

Being a cheap bastard I opted to take a train, the train is about 14 hours if it is on time. It never is. I booked a nice sleeper car with A/C and looked forward to a comfortable ride. Then I went and missed my train and couldn’t get a refund on my ticket. So I had to book a last minute peasant class ticket and eat the cost of a wasted ticket. In the end, instead of a comfortable rest on a bed, I spent 16 hours reliving some of the worst scenes from WW2 movies.

The train had no Aircon, was 38 degrees inside, had no airflow, and the lights never went off. In short it was impossible to sleep. As the hours rolled on I considered leaping from the open door to end it all, more than once. When I arrived in Bangkok I went to a random hostel without bothering to check reviews. I was tired and just wanted somewhere to lay down. This was not to be. My hostel also had no AC, but it did have bugs. Lots and lots of bugs. Also a depressing lack of geckos.

I was just off of khao san road which is just full of backpackers and drunken yahoos. It seemed like a fine choice. Unfortunately the prevalence of cheap bastards like myself had led to cheap accommodation, not cheap in terms of cost exactly, but cheap in terms of terrible.

After a few days without sleep I had to get the hell out Bangkok by any means necessary. So I hopped onto an eight hour bus across the Cambodian border.

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Outside of the major cities Thailand is absolutely stunning

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Train food is only somewhat better than airplane food, but at least they charge you extra for it…

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Sadly when I sat in the doorway the train decided to stop and render my efforts useless

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Since the train was impossibly hot many of us camped out along the open doorways desperate for airflow

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