It’s beginning to look a lot like winter here today. After a few very emotional and tiring weeks, what better time to resume my trip down memory lane and feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, in Thailand?
The next couple of days in Bangkok were quiet. I experienced the first torrential rain since my arrival, which kept us inside one afternoon. We waded through some flooded streets that evening on our way to dinner at the home of the parents of another of Sarah’s students.
On our final day before heading out to experience more of the country, we roamed around the city. We visited the Isaan Village that had been set up around Government House by people protesting the building of a dam that had destroyed their fishing and their rice paddies. We had a ride in one of the Khlong* boats which carry passengers and floating markets up and down the polluted canals that wander throughout the city. Then we boarded an evening train for Chiang Mai.
At 5:15 am I wrote in my journal:
“We have been travelling all night on the train to Chiang Mai. It has been reasonably comfortable with the seats folded out into beds. I think I went to sleep at about 9:00 pm, exhausted after our day of roaming the city.
The train isn’t air-conditioned, but there are ceiling fans and open windows. At night screens and shutters cover the windows. I haven’t tried the toilets yet, after Kendrick’s negative description. I’m hoping I can hold off until we arrive in Chiang Mai. Even then I’ll have to use the squat type, which I find hard to get used to. I thought Sarah had said we’d arrive at 5:00 am, but everyone is still sleeping. A shower and some breakfast would be nice. Some people are starting to stir now.”
I soon discovered that in Thailand, scheduled time has little meaning. We were still on the train at 7:30.
“We’re still on the train but everyone is awake. The seats are back and the windows are open to a beautiful, sunny day. The country is gorgeous – tree covered mountains, lotus growing in the ponds, and a little cooler temperatures. Our new arrival time was supposed to be 7:30 so we should be in Chiang Mai soon.”
We arrived in Chiang Mai at around 8:00 am and had just enough time to grab some breakfast at an outdoor café, where a roll of “toilet” paper set in the centre of the table served as napkins, before catching a tuktuk to the airport. Chiang Mai was not our destination that day. We boarded a plane for Maehongson, which cost only ten baht more than my room at the Atlantis!
*The Thai capital Bangkok was crisscrossed by khlong and so gained the name Venice of the East. The khlongs were used for transportation and for floating markets, but also for sewage. Today, most of the khlongs of Bangkok have been filled in and converted into streets, although the Thonburi side of Bangkok (covering areas west of Chao Phraya River) still retains several of its larger khlongs.
Central Bangkok has the Khlong Saen Saeb, which is a route for a boat service that remains a vital public transportation function in the traffic-congested capital. (Wikipedia)
I’m so happy to read your blog! Thanks so very much for your lovely comment on my journal.
I feel as though I’ve arrived at your blog, just at the right time. I’ve had Thailand on my mind ALL week! I’ll return to Thailand for one month in August 2013. I’ll be in Bangkok for a while, and then I will head to Khao Yai, Ratchaburi and Kanchanaburi – and if I have some extra time, I’d like to stop in Chiang Mai too.
My family lived in Thailand for 9 years, on Koh Samui, but did business in Bangkok before they traveled out to New Caledonia every year trading. Seeing your photos reminds me quite a bit of that time. The Khlong photo is stunning.
I look forward to reading more about your journeys through Thailand! 🙂
Thanks, Dakota. I’m glad you’re enjoying the journey. I’d love to go back with a better camera, and pay more attention next time! It’s odd, you’ve been thinking about Thailand and I’ve been thinking about New Zealand. My son has been in Auckland for a month now on a working visa and plans to stay for a year. I’ve been trying to talk Jim into making a trip to visit in the spring, but I don’t think he has enough interest to warrant the expense. I might have to just go without him! LOL
Glad to be back on this journey with you. You’re right that looking at photos and remembering good times in warmer climates can be a wonderful antidote to the cold winter. Looking forward to reading more about the Thai adventures.
Thanks for your comment on my blog!!! 🙂
I didn’t realize you had a son here. You should definitely visit. It’s a long journey but you will like the scenery. Especially if you and your son take a trip to the island in the South. Although we’re the coldest island in the Polynesian triangle, we have very pretty scenery and beaches.
I’m really looking forward to returning to Thailand in August. I have a lot of travel and photography ahead of me. I’m leaving in May for Paris, then to Bordeaux, then to Nice, Monaco, Marseilles, Provence and perhaps Montpellier. Then I’m going to Ferrarra Italy and traveling to Bologna as well as Venice and some seaside Italian towns. This time missing out Palermo, because my 3 months in Europe is going to be full. Then I’m off to Spain, to Valladolid. Then, Edinburgh. Then back to Bordeaux, then more time spent in Paris. THEN: Thailand. Can’t wait!!! And of course I’ll be sharing it all in photos on my blog! 🙂