We decided to head to Chiang Mai next, we had heard that it was very popular amongst backpackers (Ben had heard that you could hire a scooter), I had heard there was a giant night market, and we were both desperate to get out of Bangkok. We went to the train station to get tickets for the night train, surprise surprise they were all sold out. We were quickly ushered upstairs to a travel agent who told us they had tickets, if we bought our 2 night accommodation and a trek into the mountains. They were offering us the world, 4 star accommodation with a pool and a 3 night trek to see the Karen tribe with all food included, we couldn’t believe our ears. When we asked for the price we nearly fell off our seats, there was no way we could pay that, it cost more than a quarter of our budget….for the whole of Asia. Seeing our shocked faces and realising that we were not as flash as she had first realised (we must have been dressed smartly that day) she quickly brought out a much cheaper deal. This deal included a guest house accommodation, a 2 day trek with elephant riding and bamboo rafting and all for a fraction of the price, phew! All we wanted was a train ticket. When she went through what we were getting it seemed pretty reasonable and we were pretty ready to move on so we accepted and paid the money.
The next night it was time for the night train, this was our first one of this trip and we were very excited. We got to the station nice and early so we were nice and prepared. We were also a little worried that our tickets would not be legit as we had just bought them from some woman at the station. But we pushed away all doubt and let the excitement take over (which is quite a lot in Ben’s case as he LOVES trains and is from Jersey so spent many years without them and I think feels he need to catch up the missing years).
When we boarded the train there was a German couple in our carriage, they seemed really nice and we started chatting straight away. We learned that they were on a month holiday in Asia and they too had been scammed at every turn in Bangkok (at least we weren’t the only ones). They were a little miffed about the standard of the second class train as they had tried to book first class and been taken to a similar travel agent and sold a package. When they told us the price they paid we realised how lucky we were with our package and price and stopped complaining quite so much. The second class air conditioned train was bliss to us after the night we spent on the hardest bed ever at the Siam Classic hostel (I would not recommend this place if you want to sleep at all). A little man comes round about 9pm and pulls down the upper bunk on both sides of the carriage and makes up the beds (Which are really comfy). We chatted some more then went to bed, the motion of the train sent me straight off to sleep and I slept till an hour before we reached Chang Mai. Looking out the window when I woke up was amazing, the train went through lots of little villages that were just waking up and the people were starting there day. Collecting food and carrying it on their heads, washing children and lightning fires. I woke Ben up straight away and we sleepily watched the people go about their business as we approached Chiang Mai. All is all a wonderful experience and coupled with the fact it gets you from A to B I really would recommend it.