When the train arrived in Hat Yai, it was the luckiest moment of our day: the door opened right in front of where we were standing. We jumped quickly on the train and took the first places that appeared, both for us to sit as to accommodate the backpacks. We didn’t really like our seats, they were hard wooden seats and our window would not close, but we only realized how lucky we were when we looked around and people were pushing and squeezing to get into the train and grab a spot to sit .
After everyone had entered, Ale and I stayed keeping our seats while Felipe and Pasqual took a look at other cars. They came back saying everywhere else was much worse than that, there was no comparison. Of course I was curious and had to go there and look by myself. There was a huge gap between one and other car of the train and I could see loose fittings shaking and making noises with the movements of the train. Finally I overcame my momentary fear and jumped to the other side. Really… where we were was much better.
We did not take long to realize that this “third class” train was, besides uncomfortable, the same as “local train”. It was nearly 400km stopping at each micro-village that was on the way. The advantage was that the train was slowly getting with less and less people, and when we reached our destination it was almost empty.
The landscape during the trip is beautiful, we passed through forests and more forests and numerous rice fields. In each village that the train stopped we could see something new, but they were all tiny, at least near the station so it seemed.
Yeah, but how was the trip? For me it was a pain. That I do not regret having done, it was quite an experience, but I wouldn’t do it again. For several reasons:
First the discomfort, sitting on those hard seats for seven hours was not easy.
Second that it was very hot and the fans did not work. Our window would not close, but it was useless because there was no wind… Until it started to rain! A lot! Then the wind and the rain came in the train. Yep.. and the window wouldn’t close…
Third, we hadn’t had lunch and we did not bring anything to eat. There was some people selling things inside the train, but nobody, absolutely nobody spoke anything but Thai. We couldn’t even buy water because the bottles had a strange color and the label was also only in Thai (those “little drawings” there). We could not even understand the prices of things! No way…
Some stations had their names written on the Western alphabet, then with the map we were able to know roughly where we were, but others were only in Thai. We ran a great risk of missing our stop! As the train got emptier we started “talking” with people around us and a very helpful gentleman showed us where we should drop off.
At last we arrived at Surat Thani. It was evening and a taxi driver met us the platform. He explained that the city was not there. Oh noooo!! And he was right, when we looked around there was nothing there but the station. Despite our initial distrust, the taxi driver was the one who saved us. He explained that in fact we should go to Don Sak, which was on the coast and was from where the boats leave to the islands. There were another 40 minutes by taxi, but ultimately it was worth it, the driver charged us a reasonable price, left us at the door of a hotel that he chose (of course) but it was all that we wanted! Finally we could take a shower, have dinner and sleep in a real bed.