Monday, July 19, 2010

To train or not to train? Part II

Previous related post To train or not to train? Part I

Our stay in Chiang Mai (2009) was coming to an end and it was time to head back to Bangkok. There weren’t flights leaving soon enough so we weighed up the cost of a later departure & hotel versus an overnight train. Of course the train won. I made it quite clear that I was willingly doing this under protest...meaning the ball was in my court regarding our mode of transport. So, we went ahead and booked our tickets at the hotel we were staying at.

The first class sleepers, which are cabins, weren’t available on this run, so we opted for 2nd class. You can get the low down at seat61. When making our booking we both chose lower bunks for ease of access, for a little extra baht and paid accordingly. But, as usual, something must have got lost in the translation and we arrived to what would turn out to be an upper and lower. ไม่เป็นไร !...

We secured our small amount of luggage on the racks provided and settled into our seats, which would morph into our beds by night (photos). The train was fairly empty and passengers were spaced out, which provided a sense of privacy. A couple of seats down and across the aisle sat an older Asian gentleman. It wasn’t long before a chat ensued over the sharing of snacks. Stray is such a havachat.

H. was from Singapore, a sprightly 84 year old who traveled solo, often, to various parts of Asia. His wife seemed happy for him to go on these pilgrimages, even packing his condoms for the trip. (So he said). He told us about some of his escapades with bar girls and pretending to be blind, you’ll have to use your imagination...the whole time my jaw dropping lower and lower. All in all he was a pretty entertaining guy, without even trying to be.

I commented on his beautiful and unusual blue eyes, he informed me he had cataracts. Whoops! He took no offense and proceeded to tell us how he stays so virile, healthy and young. URINE. Yes, urine, wee, I’m not taking the piss out of you. Pun intended.

Apparently he’s been drinking his first pee of the day for about 30 years and swears by it. Both Stray and I could vaguely remember hearing about urine therapy over the years and have since learned that it’s also part of the Jainism religion. However, it’s NOT THEIR OWN that they drink.....aaahhhgggg!

The waiter came around with a menu, but H. convinced us not to order, and said that it would be cheaper if we ate in the dining cart = meal less the tip or commission for the waiter. Wrong. The reason the waiter waits on you is probably to keep the dining cart empty and to prevent you from seeing the kitchen area. I always sound so anal retentive, to myself, when I read back over my posts. I’m by no means a clean freak, it’s just that when it’s other people’s grime I find it really hard to relax.

After leaving our forlorn waiter we proceeded to the dining carriage and ordered our meals. H. had a strict rule about not ordering more than he could eat (too much waste in the world already) and he ate like a sparrow. We consumed our meals which were, not to our surprise, delicious, on our stiff, crusty table cloths adorned with a small vase of plastic flowers. Followed by the downing of a couple/few beers (I’ve finally succumbed to drinking ale) and chain smoking while we talked about, mainly, H’s adventures and the meaning of life.
Our seats were now bunks, made up by the carriage attendant in our absence. I climbed the ladder to the upper bunk and did a quick costume change under the sheet. Anything to avoid the scary bathroom areas on the train, which H. informed us, was nearly 30 years old...and looked every bit of it. Maybe a good dose of urine therapy was in order?

Stray sat down on H’s bunk and they played a few hands of cards, while I came to the realisation I was lying directly under an air conditioning duct, which was not unlike braving an arctic wind. It’s always disconcerting when one finds someone else's food wrappers down the side of one’s bed. I climbed down and commandeered the lower bed and went through the motions of sleeping for about 8 hours.

With my eyes burning and Stray revived after a solid night’s sleep we disembarked at Bangkok station. We were quickly confronted by young people wearing florescent orange vests, asking ‘where are you going?’, a phrase you’ll hear about twenty times a day from the tuk tuk drivers. Too tired to put up any resistance I blurted out 'Silom Road'. One of the young Thais gave us an estimate of how much our taxi fare should cost, before we were pounced upon by the cab drivers laying in wait just outside the main entrance. A thoughtful service for those not in the know!

At our hotel, I sleep, while Stray goes out to find his regular THERAPUTIC massage. One of the many pleasures of holidaying in Thailand.

Stray still tells people about H. and the urine therapy thing, at which time I usually try and change the subject....because he’s also going to tell them that he actually wouldn’t mind trying it!

Thirsty anyone?
Disclaimer - To train or not to train? postings are written out of context and with slight tongue in cheek. They are in no way reflective of my TOTAL experiences in that country, which have all been fantastic.

to be continued...


Martyn said... Best Blogger Tips

Snap and Stray - What an interesting post, it kept me gripped the whole way. I'd have my urine with a few chunks of ice and a tea bag dropped in too.

I've travelled on the overnight sleepers before from Udon to Bangkok and the other way. The train is my favourite way to travel in Thailand but the bus seems to somehow get there quicker so that's what I normally use.

I've stood between the train carriages many times smoking cigarettes, that's scary, you see the ground hurtling by beneath you whilst grimly hanging on.

Great post and very well written.