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2017 SEPTEMBER THAILAND RAIL JOURNEY part one

TRAIN CHIANG MAI TO LAMPANG TO PHITSANULOK

semi-overcast 30 °C

DAY 236 FRIDAY 29TH SEPTEMBER 2017

It rained last night, and it was still raining when we woke up this morning. Lyn did our last load of washing early and hung them on a clothes airer in front of a fan inside so we would have all clean clothes to depart with. Keeraya had gone out early with her mother, but left us a note she would be back at 12 noon to take us to the train station. We left the house at 1pm, which was still early enough to stop and have lunch before driving us to the train station.

Time has come for us to move on again, start our journey back to Bangkok. We have decided to take the train, but instead of doing the overnight sleeper, like we have done several times in the past, we are taking the day train and doing a few stops along the way. Our Thai visa is good until the 14th of October, so we still have a couple of weeks.

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Today we left Chiang Mai on the #52 3.30pm train heading south approx. 100kms to Lampang.

Lampang, also called Nakhon Lampang to differentiate from Lampang Province, is the third largest town in northern Thailand and capital of Lampang Province and the Lampang district. Traditional names for Lampang include Wiang Lakon and Khelang Nakhon. The city is a trading and transportation center. Lampang lies 601 km north of Bangkok and 101 km southeast of Chiang Mai.

2nd class, padded seats with open windows and overhead fan 53 baht = aud$2.04 each. Train departed 10 minutes late, but arrived 30 minutes early, arriving at 5.30pm, so made pretty good time.
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Lots of green countryside, rice paddies and jungle along the way. The train stopped at just 3 little stations before it was our turn to get off.

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I bargained a good price for a taxi 50 baht = aud$1.91, from the train station to our riverside guest house which I had pre booked. Not very intrepid, but it's much easier and nicer to have a place to come to rather than having to search once we have arrived. The Riverside Guest House 900 baht = aud $34.45 including breakfast, air con & hot shower. After dropping our bags in our room we returned to the reception restaurant area for a cold Leo beer (which costs the same as the taxi at 50 baht = aud$1.91 each) overlooking the Wang River.

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By the time we drunk our beer and caught up on a bit of internet it was dark. Our receptionist had given me a map of the town and the Friday night walking market was marked on it so we decided to take the short walk and have a look around. It was a pleasant 15minute walk to the market, mostly along the river. It's still pretty warm even after dark, but at least there is no rain here.

The Ratsadapisek Bridge across the river was all lit up with lights changing colours.

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The walking street market was not much, although we did manage to buy some more house slippers and a couple of colourful rag mats. We seem to be a bit of a novelty as there are not many tourists around.

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Not feeling very hungry after the huge lunch we had before leaving Chiang Mai, we settled for a toasted sandwich from the 7-11 store. Always a good standby for a quick bite to eat. Unfortunately there was nowhere for us to sit and eat so we had to pick a bit of sidewalk that had a step where we could eat. Ended up looking like we were sitting the gutter at a crossroads with traffic lights, so we really gave the locals something to stare at.
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DAY 237 SATURDAY 30TH SEPTEMBER 2017

Had a bit of a restless nights sleep, but woke up feeling ok. Breakfast is included at the guesthouse but we had no idea what it might be. Really anything is a bonus if we don't have to go out searching for food first up. So there was a choice of 3 western type meals and Thai style meals so pretty good really. Lyn & I both chose the French toast with bacon which turned out to be quite a large, filling serving - with tea and coffee.

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We decided to hire a motor bike from the guesthouse today so that we could have a bit of an explore around the town. Bike was only 200 baht = aud $7.60, so a cheap way for us to get around without having to walk everywhere. We had a map from the guesthouse, but really just drove around a little randomly. There are lots of teak houses here in Lampang - some restored to their former glory and now used as hotels or guesthouses (like ours). However there was also a lot of houses that just seemed to be occupied by regular Thai families. Some of these were not so well maintained, but they were still obviously liveable. This used to be a logging town years ago so I guess that is why there were so many timber houses built.

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And of course there are a lot of Wats - there are a lot of Wats in every town / city / village of Thailand. Wats in Thailand are a bit like Churches in Europe or Castles in England - once you have seen 100 you have seen them all.

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We went in search of the ceramics market as this area is supposed to be famous for its clay, but unfortunately could not find the location and were advised later back at the guesthouse that the market on the map was no longer there. Anyway while out on the super highway looking for the ceramics market we could see the sky was starting to come over very black. Once we started spotting lightening and hearing thunder we decided it would be a good time to stop at a shopping centre and take cover. Our timing was impeccable, as soon as we had parked the bike in the undercover car park the sky seemed to open up and drenching rain fell. We spent an hour or more wandering around the shops and it's always interesting to take a look at the foods available in the supermarket in a foreign country. And man there were some foreign foodstuffs in this one. Some of the meats are similar to what we would purchase in Australia, just some of the cuts differ a little. Like we have pork, but would not see pork spleen for sale in the super market, and we have chicken, but would be able to purchase fresh chicken feet in our meat department. And then the frozen stuff was just as interesting, with bugs, grubs, frogs and duck heads all ready for purchase. lol, it's interesting and helped to kill some time while we sheltered from the rain.

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Before returning to the bike, we had lunch in the food court. Crispy noodle with pork gravy for 50 baht = aud $1.90 was very tasty.
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We managed to find our way back to the guesthouse, but had to go back out on the bike to fill it up with fuel. The nearest petrol station was a few km's away and I think we used more fuel going there and back than we had used all day. To fill up cost just 30 baht = aud $1.14, and we paid the guy who pumped the fuel 10 baht tip cause he helped us put air in the tyres after pointing out it was flat.

It was dark again by the time we walked down our laneway to the Saturday night walking street. A bit bigger and more crowded than last nights market, but we as tourists still seemed to be in the minority, which was kinda nice. Only purchase tonight was Lyn bought a plastic basket. It was warm again tonight, but not as hot as last night I think. Still pretty steamy though and we are thankful for air con in our room.

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We stopped for a snack of what looked like a cheesy toasted sandwich, but turned out to be a greasy, cheezy, sweet (cause it was painted with sticky condensed milk) toasted sandwich @ 45 baht = aud $1.71. And an ice coffee, one of the best we've had except for the shaving cream consistency of the cream on top @ 35 baht = aud $1.33 each.

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After walking around the market it was time to find somewhere to eat. A short walk up the street along the river to the riverside restaurants, but they did not really entice us to eat there. A little further was a roadside food shack, that was crowded with customers and was offering more at the price we wanted to pay. Lyn had stir fry mixed vegetables with crispy pork and I have stir fry bean sprouts with crispy pork, both served with steamed rice at a total cost of 65 baht = aud$2.47 and we shared a largie of Leo beer at 70 baht = aud $2.66, to total meal & drink for the both of us was aud $5.13 - unreal.

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We had a long walk home as we took the long way looking for a 7-11 to get some milk to have a cuppa back in the room. The 7-11's are a bit thin on the ground here compared to them being every 2nd shop in Bangkok and Chiang Mai.

So we are moving on again tomorrow, continuing south by train again, in the general direction of Bangkok.

DAY 238 SUNDAY 1ST OCTOBER 2017

Up early for our guesthouse breakfast, which again was very good.

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A taxi was called to take us to the train station and as it turned out to be an air conditioned private car we agreed to pay the 100 baht = aud $3.82 the driver asked for. The train we wanted to catch was departing at 10.41am and we were there in plenty of time arriving at the station before 10am. I went up to the ticket counter to purchase our tickets and when the guy showed me the price of 421 baht = aud $16.10 each I told him there was a mistake as I had seen them online for just 111 baht = aud $4.24. Apparently it turns out the mistake was on my part as this was a #8 Special Express Train that was fully air con with limited stops. This was not the price we wanted to pay so I asked when the next train was and how much and he advised #408 Ordinary Train will depart at 12.02pm and 3rd class tickets were 48baht = aud $1.84 each. This sounded more like our style so I purchased these tickets and we just had an extra 2 hours to wait at the station for our 'ordinary' train to arrive.
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The #408 pulled in on time and we scrambled with a load of other people trying to get on the 3 carriages and find unallocated seats. We had our luggage to drag on as well so it was just luck that we actually managed to get seats, although I had to ride the entire journey travelling backwards.
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Third class is not so bad, the seats were padded and the windows were open to let in the fresh and sometime fragrant (sometimes not so nice a fragrance) air of the countryside in. Open window is sometimes better than freezing to death in stale air con compartments.

The countryside was not much different to what we saw the other day. Lots of green. Where it was hilly it was jungle and where it was flat there was rice paddies.
It took about 5 1/2 hours for us to travel approximately 250km, stopping a mere 36 times at tiny village train stations along the way. These stations of varying sizes were spotlessly clean with manicured shrubs and decorative flowering plants. All had on average 12 resident dogs, sitting, lying or standing at the station or running to greet the train and or persons who may be disembarking the train. Station masters, at every station, wearing their very tight fitting beige uniforms waved the red and green flats to officiate the coming and going of the train. These many sights made the hours fly by. An no worries about if you get hungry or thirsty on the train as there is a constant procession of ladies selling just about anything you might want to eat or drink. Lucky for us Lyn had done a toasted sandwich run to the nearby 711 before we boarded the train.

Arriving at our destination, Phitsanulok, dead on time at 5.22pm we decided to purchase our next train ticket for 2 days time so that we would not make the mistake of arriving at the station for the incorrect train again.

We stepped outside the station onto the street and we met with the usual 'you want tuk tuk?' Having pre booked our accommodation for the next 2 nights our answer was 'yes we do want tuk tuk.' After advising the name of our hotel the driver said she (yes our first women tuk tuk or any kind of taxi driver) wanted 60 baht = aud $2.29 to take us both to the hotel. I only wanted to pay 50 baht = aud $1.91, but after a long train ride am I really going to insist and argue over 10 baht = aud 38c?? No! We loaded our bags in the back and were driven the 10 minutes to our hotel.

P1 House Hotel, I booked online for 650 baht = aud $24.86 per night including breakfast. Our room was a surprise - much bigger and better than what we expected after seeing the foyer. 2 large single beds - always a bonus when we don't have to share a bed. Air con is a must now, TV (which turned out not having any English channels) and a fridge! All good, ah and hot shower. Win, win all round.

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After dropping off our bags we returned downstairs for a nice cold beer. Largie of Leo was a little overpriced at 100 baht = aud $3.82, but it had been a long day so we had 2!
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After dark we walked 100m up the street to find the Sunday night market was on. Similar to the market in Lampang it was not at all targeted to the tourist trade, unlike the markets in Chiang Mai. In fact there were no tourists at all to be seen besides us, and we seemed to be a bit of a novelty.

Lots of roadside stalls that sold real Thai food, the kind that we don't really want to eat, you know the ones that have that unidentifiable meat on a stick. And lots of hot soupy dishes with god only knows floating around in it. We did not feel like going native for dinner tonight so we safely bought some crispy chicken wings which we took back to our room to eat in the air con, with a cup of instant noodles.

I surfed the TV channels for a little while, but it seemed no matter how many times I did the loop of all the channels, everyone was still in Thai!

DAY 239 MONDAY 2ND OCTOBER 2017

Quiet day today. Breakfast was a bit of a let down after the last place, but hey it was something that we didn't have to go out looking for. Deep fried egg with a teaspoon of pork mince!

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Not much to do here in Phitsanulok and we did not want to hire a bike as it looked like it would rain most of the day - turned out it didn't.

In the afternoon we went for a walk down by the Nan River, which had that same lovely brown colour as all the rivers we have seen here in Northern Thailand. The current was running quite quickly here too, not sure if that is due to it being the wet and a lot of water is rushing through the rivers or if they are always running this fast. I think that may have something to do with the colour as well, not that I think they would usually be crystal clear as my own Brisbane River back home is never clear either.

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I guess the main attractions around this area are Wats, and as I mentioned earlier we are Watted out so did not go out exploring much today.

Dinner was a repeat of last night with some more crispy chicken as the same street vendors were out selling their mystery bowls of food.

Tomorrow we are back on the train tracks continuing our journey south towards Bangkok.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 03:48 Archived in Thailand Tagged train mai guesthouse lampang riverside chaing Comments (0)

2015 MAY THAILAND - OVERNITE TRAIN AND ONE DAY IN BANGKOK

Yep, Bangers is like a furnace!

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Tuesday 19th May 2015 (day fifteen)

Our overnight train journey went unhindered and surprisingly for the first time we have travelled on the overnight train it arrived into Bangkok train station on time at 6.50am. No one wants to be arriving into a big city at this hour in the morning, no one wants to be woken up earlier than this on the train so the beds could be converted back to seats for the last hour of the journey. No one, especially not me! I had the privilege of sleeping in the top bunk on the train and instead of a gentle rocking to sleep as would be comforting I was jostled from side to side in my narrow bunk. Did manage to sleep a little but the cabin lights are left on all night and the curtain rods are just below the light so my little compartmented area was bathed in light the entire night. Thankfully my eye mask (thanks Jan) did cut most of it out, but with the flashes of light and the body shaking it was a bit like sleeping in a noisy disco.

We had dinner on the train for 170 baht = $6.80 (no beer) which was served to us at our seats at 7pm. By 8pm the stewards were chomping at their bits to set up our beds and after this was done we had little choice but to try and sleep. I guess they know that the passengers are not going to get a fitful nights sleep so they send you off to bed early. And the fact that there is not beer being sold and it was dark outside so nothing to see, so what else are passengers going to do?

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We have the day to amuse ourselves in Bangkok before our flight out at 9pm this evening. We head outside the station, dragging our luggage in search of a taxi to take us to our usual haunt to wile the day away. Of course the usual offenders come up to try and hustle us into an overpriced cab with fixed price of 400 baht = $16, which immediately dropped to 300 baht = $12 when I gave them the ‘we are not fresh off the plane’ look. I want a meter taxi I exclaim and immediately my luggage is dropped (taken minutes earlier to aid me when they thought they could rip me off) and the offender walks away mumbling. Sorry mate, not your lucky day today, I have been here before.

We deposit our luggage into a metered taxi and the driver speaks absolutely no English! Which I must say is pretty rare for a Bangkok taxi driver. Sometimes I despise my own arrogance when I come to these countries and expect the locals to be able to understand me speaking a language that is foreign to them, but it had been a rough night and I was tired. To make it worse we had no idea where we were going, well I mean we did know, but did not have the address or anything to give this poor guy. We just rattled off the name of a hotel that we know it in the area we want to be taken to and automatically presume this and every taxi driver will know where every hotel in Bangkok is located and understand the pronunciation we are giving him. I think he was happy to have a fare and drove off, I guess he would figure out where we wanted to go as we were driving. With a few broken words he asked us for an address or phone number to locate the hotel but we did not even have that to give him. Bloody hell, not very organized was I?
Just a block from the station our taxi stopped next to a tuktuk and the driver asked him if he knew where we wanted to go and after I repeated the hotel name to him he yelled something at the driver and gesturing with his hands waving us on. We felt like we were heading in the right direction, like we know Bangkok backwards, NOT! Then I remembered the name of Khao San Road, which is a well know tourist area and once I told our driver this street name he seemed to recognize it and drove with more confidence in our direction.

We did reach our chosen destination with little more fuss and the meter read less than 90 baht = $3.60 - bit different to the 300 baht = $12 the amount the original taxi driver wanted us to pay. It was still early and our first stop was to find some breakfast. We headed towards our usual Bangkok office (a restaurant where we spent a lot of time at last visit to Bangkok using the internet), but unfortunately it was closed down for renovations. How dare they! A few steps up the alley we found another place to sit and have something to eat. It was still only 7.30am and we had the whole day to fill in before our flight. It was worth our while to get a room so that we could have a shower and somewhere to re-organize our luggage. I did a bit of a walk around pricing some rooms (while Lyn sat guarding the bags :-/), we only wanted a room until 5pm but all the hotel receptionists advised the price was the same for half a day as it was for a full day with overnite. We settled on a room at the New Siam 2 for 600 baht = $24, worth the money to be able to shower now and again before we departed for the airport and a safe place to leave our luggage for the day.

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First up we again emptied the contents of our 2 bags onto the bed and repacked them. Our flight to England allows us 20 kg checked luggage each and these repacked bags were just a kilo or so over. Not too bad.

Showered and refreshed we headed back out into the steamy Bangkok day in search of a manicure. We returned to a place we had visited on our visit to this city and paid the going rate of 150 baht = $6 each for an manicure while relaxing in an air-conditioned room. Yes it was very hot in Bangkok as per normal.

After this little piece of pampering it was time for lunch and our last Thai meal was taken in one of our favoured street stalls, 165 baht = $7 - boy are we going to miss these prices in Europe.

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Another shower and soon it was time for our airport transfer. We waited on the side of the road for our minivan that fought through heavy traffic to take us to the airport. Thankfully we took the 5 o'clock shuttle and not the 6 o'clock one as this would have been too close to check in time.

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My least favourite part of travelling is airport check-ins as I always freak out we have too much luggage and today was no different. I think the stress is warranted as we do usually have overweight luggage.

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Turns out we did have a few kilos over our 20 kg limit each, but the Jet Airways attendant did not seem to care about this fact. Phew! Stress gone.

We had an overpriced meal at the airport before boarding our flight which was flying via Mumbai, India so you can imagine the nationality of the majority of passengers.

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Posted by Cindy Bruin 06:15 Archived in Thailand Tagged train bangkok chiang mai overnight sleeper Comments (3)

2015 MAY THAILAND - FURTHER NORTH INTO THAILAND, CHIANG MAI.

Ferry from Koh Samui to Don Sak, coach & mini van to airport, fly Surat Thani to Chiang Mai. Free days in Chiang Mai relaxing


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Thursday 14th May 2015 (day ten)

We had an early morning today and a full day of traveling via several forms of transport.

After breakfast at Weekender Villas and a quick farewell to a hung over Patrick we were taken by mini van to the bus station. Lyn had gone out yesterday and purchased tickets for 650 baht = $26 each for our transfer from Koh Samui to Surat Thani airport. Although our flight is not until 3.30 this afternoon, our pickup was at 8.30am to enable us to get to the airport on time.

First a mini van (driver was early we were not ready so we made him wait till 8.30am agreed pick up time) to take us to the ferry, but, wait, no, we get dropped off at a bus station. At the bus station we were instructed to load our luggage onto a large coach which would take us to the ferry where we would have to walk on to the boat and then get back on the coach on the mainland side. Waiting about 30 minutes at the bus station for various minivans to deposit passengers for our coach gave a little indication of the waiting time ahead. The drive to the ferry port was only about 20 minutes and we were given tickets for the ferry as we exited the bus and walked onto the ferry. Passengers are not allowed to stay in any of the vehicles travelling on the ferry so we followed the crowds and managed to get a seat inside the air conditioned salon. We would prefer to sit outside in the fresh air during water crossings but the only outside seating on this ferry was in full sun and it was way too hot to be spending the next two hours out there.

We found a couple of comfortable seats and before the ferry even left the dock Lyn had fallen asleep, which shattered the silence of the loud marine engines and prevented anyone else within 10 meters of getting any sort of shuteye. ( I'm sure she is telling lies, I can't snore that LOUD!) I read! The sea was again calm so the ferry trip was smooth sailing. When we docked there was the usual mad rush to be the first off, but I was kinda hoping they would do a head count on the coach and not take off before we had reboarded it so there really was no need to push along with all the over eager disembarkees. As it was we were not the last to reach the waiting coach anyway as some very over hung smashed up lads had stopped to purchase water to try and re-hydrate. I was impressed that there was actually a head count performed before the coach took off towards Surat Thani town, just under 70km away. We were told we would be transferred to the airport by minivan.

About an hour later driving into the city limits of Surat Thani the bus just stopped by the side of the road and all passengers with the red airport sticker were to get off here. That was us. And although it seemed like we were being dropped off in the middle of nowhere, I know better than to question these things as this is Thailand and this is just the way things work here. No doubt a minivan will show up any minute and take us and several others on to the airport. Not to be left just standing on the side of the road we were ushered into a restaurant / waiting area where there was a 5 baht fee to use the loo. Luckily I did not have the need, as even for a loo that you pay for does not guarantee any standard of cleanliness. We were told to sit and our minivan would arrive in 20 minutes. We had some snacks and water with us so we were fine, I think the idea to keep us waiting was in hope we would order food. Finally a minivan did show up but we were not asked to load into it until a good 20 minutes of time had passed. I guess they realized no one was going to purchase any food so we may as well go.

It was about another hours drive in the minivan to the airport and we arrived just before 2pm - so that means our airport transfer had taken 5 1/2 hours - not bad.

We checked in our luggage and as we still had full bottle of duty free Baileys that we did not drink on Samui we asked if it was ok to carryon? No, still no liquids on domestic flights so we had to pack it into our checked luggage. Staff were not happy with this option either and I had to sign a tag to say they were not responsible for any breakages. They slapped on a fragile sticker, which I'm sure the luggage handlers ignored as after we had landed I saw our bag come out of the plane first and was impressed that perhaps extra care was being taken. Until the ground staff grabbed bag and tossed into the waiting luggage cart and then was piled high with other bags being tossed from the belt to the cart.

We had lunch at the airport, not the best meal, but it was cheap and colourful:

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The flight to Chiang Mai is less than 2 hours and we end up landing 15 mins early at 5pm after the Captain informing us its 36 degrees. It had been a very hot day in CM today reaching over 40!

We are in Chiang Mai to visit Lyn's daughter-in-law Keeraya (married to Lyn's eldest son Michael) and her grandson Nik (who just turned one last month). Can hardly come to Thailand not visit the grandson.

When we exited the airport terminal the hot air really hit us, much hotter than the last couple of days on the island. Here the air is think and feels very close. Keeraya arrived in an air conditioned car and took us to an air conditioned mall to eat so we remained pretty comfortable. Of course the house is air conditioned so I don't think we will suffer that much.

Friday 15th May 2015 (day eleven)

First stop this morning was the CM train station to purchase tickets for us to get to Bangkok to meet our flight to the UK. We booked 2 berths on the overnight sleeper train for the 18th departing at 5.00 pm - scheduled to arrive in Bangkok 7.30am on the 19th. It's probably cheaper to fly from Chiang Mai to Bangkok, but we enjoy the train journey and have the time so take the train.

After breakfast at a café a the station, Keeraya takes us to a museum. Museum? Yes I know we are not museum goers (being the only people to have ever visited Paris and only stepped inside a museum building to use the toilet), but this is a museum with a difference.

ART IN PARADISE - 3D ILLUSION ART MUSEUM

Art in Paradise the first Illusion Art Museum of Chiang Mai, presents Illusion Art, the painting art requiring techniques and expertise in painting on a flat surface into a "3D" and giving a sense of realistic art. In addition, the museum also offers artworks in the form that allow visitors to take part in the artworks closely (Interactive Art), where the visitors can take photos with creative imagination, emotion and postures designed to correspond with each painting according to their own preferences as if they are a part of the painting. Therefore, Art in Paradise (Chiang Mai) is where the art is understandable for everyone, and happiness and entertainment are delivered to the visitor as well.

WHAT IS ILLUSION ART?

An illusion is a sensory perception that causes a distorted or altered impression. Since illusion is not the opposite of reality, the effect of illusion one experiences is neither true nor false.

The illusion of depth in paintings and installation art are presented on two dimensional surfaces by combining a variety of art elements, special techniques and professional skills. This transforms ordinary artworks into extraordinary three-dimensional interactive environments.

Art in Paradise Chiang Mai welcomes you into the world of fantastic illusion art, where you can create your own activities and be fully immersed in the interactive 3D artworks.

This place was a load of fun as you can see by the silly photos we took, highly recommended.

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Saturday 16th May 2015 (day twelve)

Stupidly, this morning we decided to head out into the heat and go see a local trash and treasure market. After about 30 minutes of walking out in the heat we realized just how stupid this idea was and retreated back to the air conditioned car to take us to an air conditioned shopping mall. The market was set out on the footpath of a few streets and although it may have been interesting it was way too hot for the baby to be out experiencing the discomfort. Well that's our excuse anyway. Nik is too young to dispute the fact and if he could it would be in Thai and we would not understand anyway.

So we found ourselves again in the air conditioned refuge of a giant shopping mall. I said to Lyn, this time next week we are going to be praying for this heat, but right now we complain about it. It would be good if we could store some of this warmth for when we need it later.

Lunch was a pizza at a place called Dukes in the shopping mall. Not usually a visitor to western style restaurants while in Asia, Keeraya had told us the pizza here was pretty good and she seemed keen to go. Being a pizza lover, I did not hold out much hope for a good pizza to be served to us here. But it was lunchtime and we were hungry and open to suggestion. Well I must admit the pizza was very good, so good that I say this is the very best pizza I have eaten outside of Italy and that is that!

On the way home we stopped at a baby shop where Nik tried a Ferrari on for size.

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It's nice to have this spare time to do nothing, spend time with family in a different country. Keeraya cooked for us at home tonight, it was good but still her idea of not spicy (chilly) is enough to make my hair curl. I do love the flavours but the heat just makes my tongue go numb.

Sunday 17th May 2015 (day thirteen)

What a lazy day we had today. Sitting inside in the air con so no idea what is was like outside. lol It did rain a little at midday so it may have not been too bad.

Late afternoon we headed out towards the Sunday Walking Market. On the way we stopped at the shopping mall as I wanted to get a screen protector for my tablet. I wanted to go somewhere that would install it for me, and as the mall had a whole floor of camera, computer and accessories shops, we had no problem finding a place. It cost a little extra because they had to cut to size but for 290 baht = $12. I was happy.

Finding a park for the night market was not so easy, as we discovered after lapping the vicinity several times. Finally we found a parking lot that was only charging 20 baht = 80c and was just a short distance walking to the market.

First stop was food and we bought some chicken wings, fruit shake and pork noodle soup for 175 baht = $7 for the both of us. DSCN1058.jpg Has to be said street food is still unbelievably cheap and it was good too. Walking through the market we topped off our meal with a coconut ice cream on a stick at 10 baht = 40c each.

The markets were crowded as usual and it was interesting to note that there were many more Asian tourists then western/European tourists. Keeraya said there are lots of Chinese tourists coming to Thailand now.

We pushed through the crowds browsing at the market stalls, remembering we can't really buy anything as we would have to cart it with us for the rest of the trip. Or of course we could buy up big and get Michael to bring home on his next trip over. But we were very restrained opting for a foot massage 80baht = $3.20 before heading home. It was hot in the crowds and little Nik had done so well looking around with wide eyes, he's a good kid.

Monday 18th May 2015 (day forteen)

The day started off slow, we were going to use this day to organize our bags, repack everything into our bike panniers to see what could be or needed to be culled. Lyn laid out everything on the bed and took a deep breath then came and joined me downstairs for a cuppa. This needed a little thought before we tackled the repack.

Next thing we know Keeraya suggests we go for a drive up the mountain to have lunch. This sounded like a good idea and as it was only just after 11 o’clock we agreed. Her brother came along to drive up the windy village roads and yes it was a very pleasant drive and a lovely lunch stop at a restaurant up the mountain, in the jungle.

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After lunch we drove on a little further up the mountainous windy road, to a café with a great view. They grow coffee around here and we enjoyed a cup with a chocolate brownie for dessert. Yum yum!!

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Next thing we knew it was 2.45. Our train is scheduled to depart Chiang Mai railway station at 5pm. Home was a good hour drive back, we still had to pack our bags and the train station is another 30mins from home. None of this is taking into account any traffic hold ups.

Shit! Mild panic hit!

The drive back home went ok but of course took longer than expected because while we were up in the mountains the city had experienced a heavy down pour of rain and a lot of water was still covering the roads we were travelling on.

Shit! Panic a little stronger now!

We scrambled up the stairs towards the bedroom, where all our gear was strewn across the bed, at 4.05pm. There was no organizing or culling or sorting – stuff was just being shoved into our two bags with the greatest speed we could muster.

Shit! Now totally stressed out! There was no way in hell we were going to make the train. Adrenalin has now taken over the panic as we kid ourselves we can get to the train station in time.

Meanwhile, Keeraya’s Dad had been recruited to drive us to the station. I think he may have been a Bangkok taxi driver a former life because of the way he was manoeuvring the vehicle with us and our overstuffed bags through the traffic. I had little faith that we would make it in time but he was doing a hell of a job, doing his best to safely weave in and out and around other sluggish drivers. There seemed to be a glimmer of hope, until…

Shit! The traffic! What should be a 30 minute drive from home to the train station was of course taking much longer due to traffic – the fact that is was peak hour and also the extra traffic due to the earlier rain. But still Dad was going to give it one hell of a go, and for a nano second I thought yeah we are going to make it, until…

Shit! Red light! We waited 3 sets of changed lights, I looked at my watch, 4.45 and turned to Keeraya in the back asking ‘do you think we are going to make it?’ I think maybe not, she answered and immediately started to search on her phone for flights we could take to Bangkok tomorrow. We would not have time to take another train as our flight out of Thailand is tomorrow.

Shit! The panic and stress subsided once I accepted we were going to miss the train. We would only be losing $50 worth of train tickets and the cost of a flight would be less than $200 each tomorrow, so really no biggie. I was fine with it, we could get a flight in time to get us to our flight out, just meant spending another night in CM.

Shit! Dad had not yet given up – it was 10 minutes to 5 and we were finally through the lights Now we were so close to the train station let’s just go have a look.

Driving into the car park my watch read 5.01 and although everything is not always on time in Thailand I thought for sure this train, our train would be. The car stopped and I jumped out, ran towards the platform expecting to see the train pulling away. Instead I saw the long line of purple carriages were still there with other panicked passengers running towards it. I bolted back to the car where Lyn had unloaded our 2 huge bags. We both did a quick kiss goodbye to Keeraya and Nic who were still sitting in the car, all this happening so quick.

Shit! So here is Lyn and I dragging our rather large bags towards the train just as I hear the conductor's whistle blow.

Shit! So close and yet so far – but wait, he is waving a red flat – not the green one and another guy is yelling at us to get on the train at the nearest carriage door.

Shit! We made it!

Shit! I cannot believe it!

Out of breath and struggling we drag our bags almost down the entire length of the train, moving through about 8 carriages, to get to our allotted seats. The train had well and truly left the station before we are even seated.

The hostess came around to take our dinner order and I said to Lyn after all that we deserve a beer. She agreed, but we were then informed that they no longer serve beer or any alcohol on the trains.

Shit! No Beer! Now that was a real shit!

We ordered dinner, then menu still being the same as when we travelled on the same service last year – but without the beer. A little expensive at 170 baht = $6.80 , but it is served to us in our seats promptly at 7pm.

By 8pm the seats are converted to our beds and I guess that means it’s bedtime.

Shit! What a fabulous day, nothing like it to get the stress levels up and adrenalin going!

Posted by Cindy Bruin 22:01 Archived in Thailand Tagged chiang mai Comments (4)

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