One thing is certain-this trip has already provided me with a very thorough introduction to the Thai railway system. In the past week we’ve taken three overnight train rides down south to an island and up to Chiang Mai, totaling around 42 hours on the tracks. I’ve concluded that riding third class has been both the highlight and lowlight of my traveling experiences thus far in Thailand. First class sleepers and second class reclining chairs are where most tourists (and wealthier families) are found. Third class is perhaps the most Thai experience, where food vendors march the aisles at all hours selling fried chicken, sticky rice, dried fish, cold drinks, and other favorites. Parents give up their bench seats so their children can stretch out and sleep through the night. And the trains come to screeching halts frequently enough at stations along the way to gather a solid impression of them, complete with schedules sketched out on white boards and endless lines of snack vendors. Third class is where a young boy, maybe old enough to be one of my first grade students, fell asleep on my lap. It’s where locals curiously glance over their shoulders to get a better view of the foreigner who wandered into their car. However, third class is also where a little girl threw up on her grandma’s suitcase right next to me and a puppy (yes they are allowed on the train) went tinkle underneath my seat. Luckily there was some remaining newspaper on the floor from a passenger’s makeshift bed the night before so both messes were cleaned up promptly.
Our time in Koh Pha Ngan was lovely, lounging on the beach, eating crepes, and swimming. I also entered into a fire limbo contest one night and won a beer! My friends say my yoga is finally starting to pay off.
We have one more day in Chiang Mai and then we’re off to Sukhothai, which was the first kingdom in Thailand. Tonight we are going on a twilight safari at the zoo which is supposed to be very good. I hope to update a bit more along the way but the room I’m in is getting too hot to continue writing now. Cheers!