The train ride 

It was still dark, when I hit the road. I jogged quietly towards Wiang Thong and back. The roads were still empty and it felt good to do another kind of exercise after those days of bicycling. The circumference of my thighs should have increased during the trip, as on my return the skin between my legs was bruised because of friction. In Lampang I tried out several weight scales and all indicated a surplus weight of nearly 3 Kg. Will have to work later on that. 

Pia was set to take the car back to Ayutthaya. We said goodbye and I went down for breakfast where I met Steve. He was looking not too damaged after a night's out and planned to make a bike ride in Chiang Mai City. I was in for making pictures of a maximum of temples, so we parted ways for the rest of the morning.

I visited the City of Chiang Mai, the principal city of northern Thailand and capital of the province of the same name, by Tuk Tuk. The city is popularly known as the “Rose of the North” and situated in an enchanting location on the banks of the Ping River. Founded in 1296 by King Mengrai as the capital of the Lan Na Kingdom, Chiang Mai has had a long and mostly independent history, which has to a large extent preserved a most distinctive culture. This is witnessed both in the daily lives of the people, who maintain their own dialect, customs and cuisine, and in a host of ancient temples, fascinating for their northern Thai architectural Styles and rich decorative details.

We met again at the Italian restaurant and after lunch we prepared to start our return trip by train. We left the guesthouse by bicycle and biked towards Chiang Mai's railway station.  

Chiang Mai's railway station 

We found out that there was a special desk for the transportation of two-wheelers. We paid 180 Baht for our two bikes and received a luggage ticket which was stapled to my train ticket. Our bikes received another form. We had booked our return trip from Chiang Mai about two and a half weeks prior. First the clerk said there were only 2nd class sleepers available. We insisted and suddenly the desk officer found on the "Special Express" of 1600 Hr, two single bed first class cabins at 1900 Baht each. You can imagine we were very curious to see our mobile lodging for the night.  

Special desk for 2-wheelers 

We loaded our bicycles about an hour prior for departure, as the train was being prepared in the station. There was some fuss with the cargo loader, called by everybody "Lung" (uncle), as he said we only paid for one bicycle. I showed him our receipt, indicating him the mentioning of "2 khan rot jakrayan 2 lo". He stared at the receipt, grumbled a bit and accepted our two bikes (which we had to lift and handover ourselves), seeing probably his tea money evaporating in the mist.  

Steve in front of the Special Express 

We searched our train car and installed us in our respective cabins. It was rather hot inside the train, so we went back on the platform for a stroll. Ten minutes before departure we went back on the train. The air-conditioning was working and it became a bit better in the cabin.

Our car was of Japanese origin and likely dated from the 80s. Probably too old to be of use in Japan, the car was sold or being gifted, in this case Thailand. The car was left in its original condition and the Japanese writing was still visible everywhere in the interior. Not any safety message in Thai, all was original Japanese. Our cabins had a washing table with "running" water, a small television, a video player and something that looked like a cassette deck.  There was a small office space and the bed could be raised in sitting position in a way you could leisurely look out of the window. Of all the 1980 technology, only (and luckily) the bed worked. 

The latest technology from the eighties on board 

The train started off in time. The train ride was planned to be 12 hours and 45 minutes and would only have finally a delay of 25 minutes in Ayutthaya. After a stop at Khun Tan station, the highest railway station in Thailand at an elevation of 758 meters, we entered the longest tunnel of Thailand at 1730 Hr. The Khun Tan Tunnel stretches for 1,352 meters on the Northern line from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, between the Mae Tan Noi, Wiang Tan, and Khun Tan stations. At the front of the tunnel is a monument to the German engineer who made this colossal project possible. One hundred years ago, the Royal State Railway of Siam blasted a tunnel through Doi Khun Tan to connect Lampang with Chiang Mai. Historically the Khun Tan Range was a formidable natural barrier between the Lan Na Kingdom and the Central Plains of Siam. The tunnel was built in 1907 across the southern part of the range and contributed to alleviate the difficulties in communication between the cities of Bangkok and Chiang Mai. The tunnel took eleven years to complete. Construction was disrupted owing to the arrest of the German engineers in World War I. We did the pass two times; one time from above on our bike and a second time under, on the train. 

Khun Tan train station 

Shortly after going through the tunnel, "staff" came around in order to ask if we would like a meal. At first a woman came around with some juice in a goblet and a small fruit platter. The juice tasted a bit chemical and the fruit was simply tasteless. We ordered our dinner from a list and on top of the rather expensive meal (for what it was), the woman asked if it was "okay" if she added 50 Baht for the service. Good business would I say.

A guy in uniform knocked and entered to make up our beds for the night. We stretched and tried to snooze on the sound of the train raping the tracks; unending series of creeping noises, shocks and shakes. After counting off the time we arrived at our home destination. We jumped out of the train, about half a meter down as there was no platform, and went straight to the cargo car. There we lowered or bikes and struggled over the railway tracks until we arrived on the platform of the station. Here we made the last photograph of our trip. 

The last Pic - Ayutthaya train station 

Steve drove home in his direction, while I entered Ayutthaya in the dark driving over the Pridi Bhanomyong Bridge. I turned into Uthong road and headed towards Chao Phrom market. Finally about one hundred meter before arriving home, tree dogs came upon me. Two I fought off on my right side, but the third one got me on my left. He punctured my calf with two big holes, blood seeping out of the wounds. I got off my bike and gave them a chase, all of course in vain. The old kamnan had seen the incident and showed up at my home with an old medicinal recipe. He put something looking as salt with a pestle on the wounds, making a prayer and said that I do not need to be worried as this treatment worked for 99,99 percent. I still wondered for the remaining 0.01 percent, and saw me already waking up the next morning with the foam on my mouth. But it worked indeed. I felt nothing of it during the rest of the day and the next morning I ran my first 10 Km in preparation for the Ayutthaya Heritage Run. Chiang Mai was already looking very distant ….

Make a free website with Yola