51 km, 3h 45 min
Over the last few days we have been feeling progressively more tired. We decided that it was time for a bit of a break, so rather than riding further along up the coast, we hopped on the train to Bangkok to visit with Jenny and Jay, folks from http://warmshowers.org who kindly agreed to host us in Bangkok for a few days.
We rode to Bang Saphan Noi and asked at the train station about trains to Bangkok. We hoped to take a train on Thursday morning; however, that turned out not to be possible. The only option we were given for trains that take bicycles was the 10:30 pm overnight train. For that night, all second class was sold out, so we booked a first class cabin, at roughly twice the price. Initially we were stressed by the 2000 Baht price, but quickly realized that this was only $60 CAD – not really that bad (that is $60 for both of us).
With the train arranged, we headed down to the beach to check out the various resorts. We hoped to find Internet and possibly a place to shower and hang out for the afternoon. Our inquires into the resorts were not fruitful – no one at the beach had Internet, so we headed back to town. Just before town, we found a nice clean hotel with wireless. We negotiated a room on the main floor for 300 Baht – and were able to roll our loaded bikes directly into the room. A quick shower, nap and some time on the Internet and we were ready to spend the night on the train.
When we arrive at the station, 45 minutes before the train, the attendant tells us that our train is not the next one, but the one after it. A train arrives in the other direction, stops briefly, and continues. Then a train comes, about one minute before our scheduled departure. Scott asks the cargo attendant “Bangkok 86?” The attendant replies “Bangkok.” Perfect, Scott thinks, and starts loading the bikes. Becky looks around and starts to panic. She was told that the second car would be a first class car where our cabin would be located; however, the second car is actually a second class car. So, Becky starts to wonder, “is this the right train?” She asks Scott, he shrugs and continues to load the bikes. A different train attendant runs up to Becky and asks to see the tickets. He quickly confirms that this is the wrong train. Argh! Becky yells to Scott and he quickly pulls the bikes off. Our adrenaline is pumping while we await our actual train. It is the next train to arrive, about 20 minutes later.
Now to be fair, the train had no indication as to which one it was. The announcements were only made in Thai. After the fiasco, the ticket seller who had been helping us confirmed that the next train would definitely be ours. He gave Scott a piece of paper with a 20 Baht note attached and asked him to hand it to the guys in the luggage car. This was the confirmation regarding our bikes and a “tip” for the luggage handlers – which was built into what we were charged for the bikes (100 Baht each).
Our bikes were loaded with minimal bags into the luggage car – which turned out to also be the car where the off-duty train crew slept. Most of our bags went with us into our cabin in first class. In the end, we were glad to have the private cabin and did not need to worry about the safety of any of our stuff while on the train.
The train ride to Bangkok was very bumpy – however, we were both able to get some sleep. We arrived shortly before 6:30 am, reloaded our bikes, and headed out to meet Jenny. We found riding through the streets of Bangkok to be surprisingly simple as we had been warned about much chaos. Becky votes for Aleppo, Syria as the most difficult place we have ridden, and Scott votes for Athens, Greece.