After our three days in Bangkok it’s time to go explore something new. We could probably spend a whole month just hanging out in Bangkok walking it’s many streets, catching ferries, eating food and having Thai massages. But there’s no sense getting comfortable; Thailand is a big country with lots to see. And so we pack our gear and take the ferry up the river to stop 11: Thonburi Station. The walk from the pier to the station takes about fifteen minutes but we have packed light for this trip and it is no problem. There is a market across the road from the station but it is still too early for it to be pumping. It’s smelly and there are lots of big rats around. That’s just part of being in Thailand I guess.
We had been told that the train departed at 1pm and that we needed to be at the station at least an hour beforehand to purchase tickets. However, the train actually departs Thonburi at 1:55pm and it is a quiet station where you can buy tickets quickly and easily. With about two hours to spare, we went for a walk to explore some more wats. We started by heading back to the river where neither of us know how we missed the “floating” wat when we first walked past. It was beautiful, sitting in the middle of a man-made pond of chrystal clear water. After returning to the station we walk in the opposite direction and come across another gorgeous wat that appears to be a school for young monks. Boys with shaved heads and orange robes buy soft drinks and pens from a little stand within the wat’s walls. Others sit talking with older people dressed in regular clothes.
Back at the railway station, we watch men washing a train that will depart before ours. And then it is time to board our wagon. Seating is unallocated so we chose the soft seats in the front car, rather than the wooden seats further back in the train. From here I can watch the locomotive being coupled on too.
And then we are finally underway. If it weren’t for the foreign tourists, this train would be very quiet indeed. A gaggle of girls from the UK and Australia (guessing by their accents and body language) fill most of our carriage. Half of them couldn’t even lift their heaving packs onto the racks, so full and heavy was their luggage. I know they might be traveling for a year but I simply can’t imagine carting a 70-80L backpack around with me. I have certainly learned a bit since Korea when I carried too much gear on my bike and am now down to a lightweight 30L pack that is easy to throw on the bag rack.
The three hour train journey takes us past urban housing, mansion estates, rural farm land and wats. Kanchanaburi is only about 125km from Bangkok so we’re not really fully into the country because there are many towns along the way. But we still get a glimpse of rural Thailand with its rice paddies and banana plantations.
We make two mistakes when we arrive in Kanchanaburi. Firstly, we don’t take any of the taxis from the station and then don’t know how to identify them out here. Taxis here are not cars but mini trucks and motorbikes. Secondly, we thought our hotel was only about 5km from the city centre (or at least, that’s what Booking.com told us) but it ends up being over 25km away in the village of Lat Ya. We end up paying two motorbike taxis 150baht each to get us there. They refuse to negotiate and it’s not until we arrive that I know why. 25km is a long way to ride a scooter with two big western guys with backpacks as passengers.
We feel like we are in the middle of nowhere. But at the same time, I have learned that when your travels take you somewhere you don’t expect, they might just be taking you where you need to be. We are a little disappointed to be all the way out here with no idea how to get around and no transport. And then we walk down the road to a little restaurant that is marked on Google Maps. The menu is only in Thai and no one speaks English but there are pictures and we have a translation app. Before long we are tucking into an amazing meal of chicken, snow peas and fried rice. This has to be the yummiest meal we’ve eaten here so far. It’s a pity that I stop at another shop on the way back to our hotel and buy some milk that will cause me some intense discomfort later in the night.