Sunday, April 3, 2011

Overnight train to Bangkok

We organised an overnight train ticket with a Vientiane travel agent to go down to Bangkok. As part of the price we were picked up by a truck at 3:00pm and were taken with a couple of other travellers to the only train station in Laos. 

Lovely new station, lots of empty parking spaces

ThaNalaeng station was opened in 2009 and the 3km of track is the only railway line currently in Laos. However the Chinese are financing a line from China through the middle of Laos to be part of a pan-Asia railway connection.
The lovely bright purple train - for the 10 minute journey to Thailand

The road to the station is probably busier at rush-hour. Oh wait a minute, it WAS rush hour - there was a train due to leave in 30 minutes

So we got to sit in the middle of nowhere until the train left at 5:00pm to go across the Mehkong. Then we got to change to the overnight train which started it's journey to Bangkok at 6:30pm. So we had no time pressures to make any connections.

We both slept quite well on the way down and arrived at Bangkok railway station at 6:30am. We got on the metro for the first time and headed to our hotel for a shower and breakfast.

We had booked a room so we had somewhere to go to directly. And we decided to spend a little more on our hotel than we have previously and it was so worth it. For USD 60 a night we had a 4 star apartment with kitchen and living room. Our breakfast was delivered to our room and it was only 2 blocks from the metro and skytrain. The Saladaeng Colonnade is highly recommended by us!

Showered and refreshed the goal for the morning was the Royal Palace. We spent 2.5-3 hours mingling with the large crowds walking around the complex. It was impressive in terms of a collection of temples and buildings. And Andrew was overjoyed that the best way for us to get there was on the Chao Paraya river ferry again.

Andrew was a little taller than you average ancient royal Thai

The art work around the walls was intricate and told many ancient tales.  There were craftsman maintaining these frescoes, freshening the paint and the gold detail.

In the afternoon we spent a little time checking out the malls to counter our lack of recent retail experiences – but actually didn't spend much at all

Next to our hotel was one of Bangkok's recommended Italian restaurants A superb meal. Andrew had a perfect duck breast. Paula had the best fish in months. Having spent a lot of time in Laos eating fish with small bones it was unbelievable to be served a whole baby sea bass – but the bones had been taken out….ahhhhhhhhhhhh. The only downside was we chatted to the man at the table next to us and he wouldn't stop talking. It anyone is looking for a sanitation engineer (plumber) from Zurich we have his business card!

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