Well Maxim was wrong.
That rail journey from the Malaysian border to Bangkok took 24 hours, not 20.
But he was also wrong to assume it would be a journey into hell
It was one of the best travel experiences I’ve had
Granted, it was a bit unsettling to have machine gun-toting soldiers patrolling the aisles and stationing themselves at the end of each carriage.
Separatist rebels in three provinces have been known to set off bombs here and our train went right through the heart of their territory.
The threat if being blown up aside, this was one if the great train journeys
A constant stream of vendors selling fruits, sweets, rice and chicken
And Chang beer
Can there really be a better place to sit contemplating the many mistakes in your life than on the footplate of an open carriage door looking out on the jungle as the sun begins to set ?
A village would suddenly materialise amongst all that greenery and just as suddenly be swallowed up again
Storks plodding through paddy fields looking for frogs and taking off as the train rumbles by,wheeling across the sky in formation.
Huge water buffalo tethered in some field or ploughing a lonely furrow.
As ever you have to go with the flow.
The train left at 3pm. I’d assumed it was the 1430 leaving 30 minutes late
It was actually the delayed 1130am “express” leaving 3 and a half hours late.
And the number if times it would grind to a halt could drive you crazy if the Chang wasn’t doing its duty ..
At one stage the train chugged slowly past a station.
Then ,as if the driver had suddenly remembered he had to pick up his beef curry there , it stopped. Reversed back to the platform and remained there for more than an hour
By 8pm the seats had been converted into (comfortable ) beds. I fell asleep looking out as the sun dipped lower.
Slept like a baby with the motion rocking me to sleep
And awoke to watch the sunrise and think about stuff