Today was one of the most exciting days of my life! Why? Because I took a train ride. One that I will never forget.
Yesterday, I arrived to the city of Nakron Si Tammarat in southern Thailand. I had been offered a job to teach English and wanted to visit the school and surrounding area before committing to it. After spending the day and getting a good idea of the area, I was ready to explore other opportunities.
There was a train station near the hotel that I was staying and I wanted to go to Surat Thani, north of my current location. I inquired if the train stopped there and it did. Since the train attendant did not speak any English, it was a little challenging to communicate that is where I wanted to go.
At last, I determined the train would leave at 1pm and would cost $87 bht or $2.90 US dollars for a 3.5 hr train ride! I think I can afford that.
I look at my ticket and try to determine which train cart to get on. Since, I am the only westerner, everyone is starring at me and a local comes up to me, looks at my ticket and directs me to the right train car.
I respond with, “kap kun krap” which means “thank you” in Thai. After boarding the train I try and find my assigned seat. A train attendant comes up to me to help me find it. I am sitting next to two older Thai ladies.
They exchange some words to the thai attendant and start laughing. I look perplexed to the thai attendant and he responds with the word, “handsome.” Haha. “This will be a long train ride,” I think to myself.
I am sitting in a 3rd class train cart which has open windows and circulating fans attached to the ceiling. The train is filled with Thai locals and I am the only foreigner.
The two Thai ladies sitting next to me start to talk to me in Thai while making large hand motions. I have no idea what they are saying but smile and nod in response. The train ride is 3.5 hours and the train stops at several towns eventually ending in Bangkok.
As the train departs every town, many people have whistles that they blow into and the sound is deafening. Friends and family wave to relatives as the train leaves each station and is followed by loud whistles.
The train started with few passengers but with each passing station, more and more passengers boarded the train. This is when the train ride got exciting. Eventually, there were passengers everywhere! People were sitting on newspapers on the floor in the middle isle.
Children were sitting on their parents laps to conserve space. Passengers were standing anywhere and everywhere. Meanwhile, we were melting in the hot and humid heat.
One lady offered me a rice dumpling that was wrapped in a leaf. It was delicious and had a coconut filling. Following, another passenger bought some Thai tea for her daughter but she did not want any so she have it to me. Getting fed by Thai locals is not so bad.
I was able to communicate that I was going to the town of Surat Thani and once we arrived everyone was telling me to get off so that I would not miss the station. I quickly grabbed my bag, tried to squeeze by everyone, and their luggage.
I almost could not get off the train because their was so much luggage and people in the way. Whew! I am off the train. Finally. I turn around and put my hands together and bow to the local Thai people that were so kind.
They respond with the same gesture in return. Wow! What a day! Words cannot describe every single detail on today’s train ride bit I will never forget it! Now, it is time to find a place to sleep for the night. Onto the next adventure.