Believe it or not, I’ve never been on an overnight train, and other than a few isolated commuter rail trips and a lone Amtrak trip in the Texas hill country with the Boy Scouts a really long time ago, don’t think I’ve done much train travel at all. In India, we went by planes, buses, and cars (and sometimes scooters).
We got to the Bangkok train station and boarded a train bound for Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. We got on about 10 minutes early to check it out and get set up. It was supposed to take just over 14 hours (though it took nearly 16 hours). Air-conditioned, second class berth. Our berth had four beds – two lower and two upper. I took the lower berth (longer bed) – Rachel took the one above me. Two French sisters took the ones opposite us.
The train had several cars to it, though most seemed to be sleeper cars like our own. There was a dining car, but the a la carte menu items were pricey compared to the combo deals, so we got those, for dinner and for breakfast. Not knowing any better, we initially ordered dinner from the stewardess (hostess? train attendant?), and ate it in our berth at the designated time (8:30pm). Some other passengers told us about the dining car, so we ate breakfast at our leisure (9:00am) rather than at the 7:30am designated time had we ordered through the stewardess.
The ride itself was great. The general chug-chug of the train’s engine was audible, but we were able to quickly tune it out. The train never felt like it was zooming past the countryside. It was always moving at a comfortable pace, but one where we could look out and see details, not just a blur.