Bangkok - Hua Hin - Surat Thani - Khao Lak
20.12.2013 - 20.12.2013 30 °C
We were up early (yet again) and made our way to Huamphalong rail station in central Bangkok.
We arrived at about 7.10am and rushed to the ticket counter to buy two train tickets to Surat Thani (a town in Southern Thailand), where we were going to hire a car and drive west for two hours to Khao Lak. The only problem was that when we got to the counter, we were told the 8.05am train tickets were sold out, which threw a huge spanner into our travel plans – we had to get to Khao Lak that night.
We both must have looked extremely disappointed and after watching some back and forth between Justin and I about what we should do, the Thai attendant asked if we could just go tomorrow – and we said no. Then she asked if we could just take the 1pm train, and we said no (we wouldn't have gotten to Surat Thani until after midnight). She hesitated and then said that she could try and find us tickets for the 8.05am train, but that it would cost some more money – we immediately said yes!
She took us into a little office where another Thai woman said she would try to help us, and made a call on her mobile phone. With the very limited Thai I know, and her body language I could tell things were not looking good. She hung up, and said that she wasn’t sure she could help us, but that her friend would call back. We sat there watching the clock tick closer and closer to 8.05am, waiting for that phone call.
Finally, it rang, and we had our tickets (I suspect they had contacts at other train stations down the line, and had two Thais who didn’t need to travel that day sell their tickets for a nice profit). We made it to the train platform five minutes before the train was due to leave and we were so relieved.
The train was a bit aged, but it was clean, and Justin was very happy to be travelling on the ground, rather than in the sky. We traveled out of the Bangkok metropolis and were served some breakfast:
After some time we arrived at Phetchaburi train station. Luckily the Thai woman sitting near us spoke a little English and explained that the train ahead of us had derailed and that we would not be moving for some time. After about 40 minutes the Thai train attendants came through the train saying something in Thai.
Again, we were lucky the woman near us was able to explain that we were all to get off the train, and board a bus that would take us to another train station, because there was no English translation from the train attendants. The Thai woman also asked that we explain this to the other ‘falang’ (foreigners) in the train, which we did. So we all got off the train and waited for the bus in the hot Thai sun:
And finally got on a bus that drove us Hua Hin, a seaside resort town on the east coast. There was no explanation to any of the ‘falang’ about how long the trip would take, or where we were going. When we got to Hua Hun after about three hours, some of the foreigners got off, and we then continued on for three more hours, again with no idea how long the trip would be, or where we were actually going. There was no food, no drinks and no stops.
After what felt like forever, we arrived at the train station and got off the bus and straight onto another train - again with no chance to buy anything to eat or drink. After about an hour in, I broke down, exhausted and hungry (after 12 hours of travel and an entire day of travel the day before). Justin was lovely and supportive, and tried to distract me with some television on his tablet, but this was only temporary - I was utterly miserable at being trapped on a bus or train for hour after hour. We kept stopping at new stations, and I kept saying ‘it has to be the next one, it has to be the next one’.
After comforting me, Justin wandered up the train to talk to another English speaking couple with two very young children and ask if they knew how much longer the train would take to reach Surat Thani. He returned and wouldn't tell me what they had said, and then told me the bad news that it was another whole hour until we would get there.
We finally (FINALLY) arrived in Surat Thani, and hauled off our luggage and dragged it into the township. We found a driver who would take us the two-hour car trip to Khao Lak and he brought the car around. While we were waiting, Justin got a chicken and noodle dish from a street vendor that was delicious but even more so after so long without a meal.
We got in the car, and after another two long hours we arrived at the JW Marriott in Khao Lak at 11.30pm – such a long day, but we were grateful to be here.