June 23, 2011

The train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.

Close-up of temple decoration.
 When Bangkok is left behind, and as the rice fields come into view, your lungs fill with the freshness of the country side; as when swimming submerged and breaking the surface for air. The fiery orange and crimson flowers of the Flame trees; the fresh green of the rice field; the flowering weeds along the tracks makes one forget the hustle and bustle of the city.  I boarded the three wagon train at 8:30 a.m. to start the 12 hour journey to Chiang Mai. A bunch of young backpackers were in the other section of the wagon, but they were quiet, and most slept. A Chinese gentleman down the aisle made himself comfortable with a little pillow under his head, and I settled in. 12 Hours seemed like a long time. My legroom was minimal and the seat a little thinly stuffed, but I had a folding table, like in a plane, and the uniformed hostess brought coffee, juice and a bun, which raised my expectations, which. unfortunately, would not be met. Lunch eventually consisted of white rice, and some pieces of what I think was dried chicken. Later I saw the Chinese gentleman empty a little bag of fish sauce over his rice, which I must have overlooked, but which would have immensely improved the flavor.
I had my breakfast at the station prior to departure, and one food stand displayed 'Mexican buns' of all kinds. I have never seen these steamed buns in Mexico, but they must sound exotic here. I ran my fingers over the bun in the train, and it was as soft as a baby's cheek. I should have left it at that, as it didn't taste like anything much and the bright green interior, was .....well, a bright green interior. Nothing more. Perhaps you are only supposed to caress these little buns and not eat them.
By 10:30 we were surrounded by highly professional, crisply measured rice fields and large agricultural equipment, crowded at time with flocks of white herons, dotted with an occasional larger grey and black heron, waiting patiently, staring at the water for his midday meal to swim by.
As you slowly continue up into the mountains, lotus covered ponds and canals accompany you for miles, and the rice fields change into smaller, more rustic rectangles until you are in the foothills, where they are no longer seen and are replaced by lush tropical vegetation.

Thailand is a clean country, and even the train's toilets were clean, with running water and soap. I have seen far worse, even in Europe. I don't mind using a squat toilet, but this one would not hold still for even a minute. I must have looked really pleased with myself when actually getting out of the little door, in the rolling train, balancing on every ridge that I could find, so that I didn't have to get my shoes wet. It was probably water anyway, but I wasn't entirely sure, as I didn't think that the backpackers' sense of balance was any better than mine.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts with Thumbnails