Our Most Excellent Train Adventure – Parts 1&2

Our plan is to take the train from Laos, through Thailand, Malaysia & finally into Singapore stopping off en route
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I’ll be writing about the places we stop separately, but also wanted to write about the train adventure itself!
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Part 1: Laos-Bangkok
Getting to the Laos-Thai border
Vientiane is about 20kms from the border with Thailand. Therefore it was ideal for us, as we were staying in the Laos capital anyway.

Plan A was to go to the train station 50min from Vientiane, as they run a connecting service, which takes you across the border, to the station in Thailand. Supposedly, the customs part is easier than going through on foot (Plan B). We were told at the bus station, that we should catch the no 14 bus (to Budhha Park) & it stops at the rail station.
Unfortunately when we got on, the driver told us this is not so. He would drop us 2km away! We set off as we didn’t have any other option at this point. 45min into the journey we stopped unexpectedly at the Friendship Bridge (the bridge into Thailand). This was our Plan B, so we jumped off. A little stressed, we queued up, got our exit stamp on our visas & hopped on a short bus ride across the bridge (to walk it, is illegal).

At the Thai Customs, we waited 10min, got our entry stamp & a 30 day visa (even though they’re only supposed to give you 14 overland) then a quick tuk tuk ride & we arrived at Nong Khia station; we had shaved an hour off our planned journey!

The Train
The reason why we had preferred Plan A, was that we would know if there were seats available on the train, before leaving Laos. We were lucky, there were 2 beds left in aircon; unfortunately they were 1st class. We bought them as we didn’t want to get stranded in Nong Khia.

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1st Class

We were excited about the unplanned treat of a 1st class private cabin, but unfortunately we were dissapointed. The cabin was filthy, next to the toilet (read: strange odors) & a stream of cockroaches ran back & forth through the co-joining doors all night.

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1st Class

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1st Class means you get a sink!

The journey took 11hrs & we arrived at Bangkok at 6.30am the following morning.
We went straight to the ticket office for our next journey Bangkok-Chumphon. Unfortunately whilst we were debating train times, the 2 available tickets went for the following day. We managed to get the last 2 in second class for 3 nights ahead. Oh well, there is always plenty to do in Bangkok for 3 days.

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Arrival in Bangkok

Part 2: Bangkok-Chumphon (then fast ferry to Koh Teo Island
We arrived at Bangkok station at 19.00 & the train was already in (for departure at 19.30). We found our seats in 2nd class (this time clean & bug free). We had 2 top bunks this time & a Danish couple with their 3 young boys had 4 bunks surrounding us.
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Everyone, including the young backpackers, were in bed by 21.00 as we had an arrival time of 04.30.

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All asleep early

The top bunks are surprisingly comfy, despite my original fear I might roll out 😉
However there are 2 drawbacks, which once remedied, mean a good nights sleep: 1) the curtains don’t block out the fluorescent lights (I put a tee shirt over my eyes) & the aircon is bloody freezing (I buttered up the guard & he gave me a second blanket, plus I wore 2 tee-shirts).
We woke at 04.15, but unfortunately, we were running nearly an hour late.
Once in Chumphon we boarded a coach at 05.15 & the ferry at 06.30.

Coming soon… Part 3 Chumphon-Pedang (Malaysia)

4 comments

    • Yep & Pt3 tmrw with 14hrs to Penang Malasia (as well as 3hrs bus & ferry) all with the added challenge that Colin & I are in separate train carriages as we bought the last 2 tickets on entire train!

  1. Dawn,

    Can you let me know how you ‘buttered up’ the guard? And will Colin be doing any ‘buttering up’? 🙂

    I’ve been watching a TV programme about India’s frontier railways. I think you’ve both had similar experiences to those presented on the documentary.

    Keith x

    • Thanks Keith. 🙂 In fact buttering up was quite easy: he frowned (another annoying tourist), I smiled & used the word please in my request. He then said would I like two! I said one was ample & thanked him in Thai giving a polite Thai bow.
      Good old manners never fails where ever in the World you are 😉
      Hope you & Jo are well Dawn

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