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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Thailand, Goodbye Bangkok (For Now), Hello Laos

 

For now, one last boat ride down the canals where we will exit to catch a tuk-tuk to the main Bangkok Train Station. It has been at least twenty years since I have traveled overnight by train so this is sort of an adventure for me.

My only childhood memory from my last train travel experience is that of my dear uncle quizzing me about my knowledge of why the strawberries were always sweeter near the railroad tracks.

 

 

032Needless to say, I am excited about boarding this train to the border of Laos.

At a 7-11 outside of the train station we load up on some snacks for the trip which is scheduled to take over twelve hours.

 

 

 

Inside the station, I finally come across something I have been looking for during the past few days, Pad Thai.

For our trip we have booked an upper & lower berth in the Second-Class section of the train. Our fare booked on line is about US$48 for both berths. The lower berth which gives a better ride is a little more expensive. The train does have a dining car but I am told the food is not the best hence we are self prepared for our own on board dining experience.

On schedule, a conductor hangs off the train and announces “All Aboard” followed by a intercom welcome from Don Cornelius. Soon, our train leaves the station and I have a smile on my face like a kid from twenty years ago.

 

 

489I enjoy my Pad Thai, sort some pictures, do some reading and before long I am rocked to sleep by the rhythmic swaying of the train rumbling on the steel tracks below me.

 

 

 

 

Morning comes and I make my way towards the dining car more to explore other areas of the train than to find something to eat as I still have strips of green mangoes leftover from last night.

 

 

494The Thailand countryside is passing by at about forty miles per hour as we go through a few small towns and rice fields.

 

 

 

 

 

In one car I come across the Third-Class section of the train that has just seats and open windows. The most affordable but least comfortable way to travel on the train.

 

492Back to my car I make a stop in the bathroom.

Now, I think I may have discovered why the strawberries were always sweeter near the railroad tracks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

035Nong Khai Rail Station

 

About thirteen hours after leaving Bangkok we arrive in Nong Khai the end of the Thai Rail line. Here we pick up pre-paid tickets for a new train to take us onto Laos. The station personnel at Nong Khai are extremely friendly and guide us through the Thailand Immigration exit process.

 

039On board another train that is more like an urban transit system, we are on a short ride that will take us on the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge which crosses the Mekong River.

 

 

 

 

038

 

 

041Before long we cross into “The Lao People's Democratic Republic”.

A simple boarder process which requires about US$36 for a Visa On Arrival and we are on our way to Vientiane, the capital of Laos.

 

 

 

 

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