After leaving Koh Chang (a place I will sadly never miss due to my horrific sun experience!) at 8:30am for our minivan, ferry and coach ride back to Bangkok, we arrived at Hua Lamphong railway station (the central Bangkok train station) at around 6pm. Whilst there we booked our train tickets for the following night to Chiang Mai (we went for the 10pm train arriving at 12:10pm the following day, both with lower bunks and a fan for 581 Baht each, just £12) before heading to nearby hostel Cozy Bangkok.
We hadn’t pre-booked but I’d found it in my google search the day before and we managed to just turn up and get a twin room with air con for 750 Baht (£15) for one night. This seemed to be quite reasonable for the area and it was such a lovely hostel; the staff super warm and helpful, spacious and clean toilets and showers (plus they provide free shampoo and soap in the showers – a gold star for the budget-conscious and space-conscious traveller not wanting to buy and then lug around big tubs of the stuff) and they were very accommodating; you can leave your luggage the day you check out until 8pm and they also provide you with towels when you come to collect your luggage so you can have a shower before heading off on your journey.
That evening we wandered down to Phat Pong, although unless you are going to see a Ping Pong show (we just didn’t fancy it and I was still pretty wiped out) there isn’t really much to see, although there was a street market nearby. The following day we walked to China Town (approx 10 minute walk from the station), which feels almost as chaotic as China (!), and spent some time wandering round the various food and goods markets before heading to Rachawong pier to take the Express Boat down Chao Phraya River.
On the orange line it is 14 baht one way (so 30p, regardless of how many stops you stay on for) so we bought our ticket and hopped on the first that was going north. I would definitely recommend taking the Chao Phraya Express Boat, whether as a means of transportation to a temple or other destination, or just for the experience; it was such a beautiful day, the experience so peaceful and the view so diverse to those we had thus far seen that we stayed on beyond the popular tourist stops (for Grand Palace, etc) and got off further North just to enjoy it a bit longer.
We then jumped on one back for another 14 baht each (this time paying once we were onboard) and got off further up the river at Phra Athit pier so we could take one last wander down Khao San Road before heading back to our hostel. We couldn’t work out where the right bus stop was for us to get back plus it was peak traffic time and, unsurprisingly, we were quickly bombarded by a Tuk Tuk driver offering to take us for 150 baht. Being stubborn, cheap backpackers we refused and decided to walk – I mean, it only took us, like, just over an hour to get back…
Once at our hostel we had a glorious shower, collected our luggage, had some dinner at a nearby restaurant where I had Sukiyaki – a Japanese dish of sliced meat fried with vegetables and sauce – which also came with noodles (whether rightly or wrongly) and was delicious, and then headed to the station for our overnight train to Chiang Mai. We found our beds and I immediately noticed the fan above our section was broken whilst all the others were working, but when I mentioned it to the train guard he looked at my ticket and laughed – we had paid for fan and actually the whole carriage had air con anyway, so we actually had “free air”. My, aren’t we lucky.
Unlike the beds on the China sleeper trains these ones were actually quite comfortable and came complete with a curtain, a lamp, and pull-down ledges if you want to put some of your stuff out. It was a much more comfortable and enjoyable experience than the China sleepers for me (and being able to walk between the carriages on a ledge that is completely outside other than a bit of covering, with stunning views to stare at as you zoom by, was amazing) but unfortunately being back out in the heat in Bangkok, even though covered up, had an impact on my skin and all of my sunburnt area began to blister severely, so it wasn’t a great nights sleep for me….
[See next post: Chiang Mai 1]
[See previous post: Koh Chang]