It may come as no surprise to some of you that the overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai turned into the most drunken night I’ve had in Thailand. It was also by far the best sleep I’ve had since my arrival in the country. The cynics amongst you may even argue these two facts could be linked. Who knows?
We arrived at the train station in Bangkok fairly apprehensive. After all…who looks forward to a 14 hour train ride? Our plan of action had been decided a few days previously however; get as drunk as possible and pass out. With this in mind, we headed straight to the 7-11 for beers then got on the train.
Within five minutes our waitress (if that’s what you call the girl who brings you drinks on the train) had taken our dinner and breakfast orders, brought us three more beers and an ice bucket for the drinks we’d brought on board. So far so good. Northern Rail eat your heart out.
Dinner time came and many beers had been sunk. I ordered the chicken in cashew nut sauce which also came with fried veg, rice, a portion of duck curry (for some bizarre reason) and a dessert of pineapple which made a nice change. As I was wolfing it down I was just passing comment on how much more impressive it was than I’d expected it to be, when I found a piece of glass in my meal.
Being English, I was fighting the temptation to keep it to myself and just whine about it to Reid and Riley. In the end I decided it was worth mentioning to the waitress in the hope of a free meal or at least some discount. In case you’re curious, I got neither.
It was also around this time that the first beds started to get set up for the passengers who decided that, for some reason, 8pm was an acceptable bedtime. Each to their own. I must admit I was slightly unconvinced about the idea of sleeping on a train, but once I’d seen them set up and had a few beers down me I was convinced I’d have no issue getting some shut eye.
After dinner we got talking to a Dutch guy called Roland who had pretty much been turfed off his seat as a woman and her kid wanted to get some sleep. I think the technical word to describe Roland is “nutter”, as we soon hit the rum and we all started to come out of our shells a bit (much to the annoyance of the other passengers I’m sure).
Before we knew it a few bottles of rum had been and gone and it was “quiet time” in the carriages. As it was only 10pm, we felt like the party was just getting started so headed further up the train to see what was happening. We passed through the next carriage which seemed to be rammed with Canadian backpackers, one of whom was so drunk he pissed the bed. Classic.
We eventually found the dining carriage, or as Roland had previously described it: the party carriage. I assume this was a restaurant which just played music at an obnoxiously loud level and allowed passengers to drink on for an extra hour once the carriages had called quiet time. Anyhow, the rum continued to flow until we were also turfed out of there.
Our favourite waitress followed us out, proceeded to sell us another bottle of rum and wished us a good night. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about Thai people it’s that when it comes to work, there is pretty much zero consistency as long as a sale is on the cards. Here we had a group of workers kicking us out of the carriage and another essentially running after us trying to sell us more booze. Truly bizarre.
The next bottle of rum was cracked open and we decided to try and drink it in between carriages so as not to wake up fellow passengers. Pretty damn considerate if you ask me. The staff didn’t see it that way however, and we were quickly ushered to our carriage and tried the same trick without much luck surprisingly.
So we were left with a full bottle of rum, and nowhere to drink it but a carriage full of sleeping passengers. What followed was the world’s most drunken attempt at four guys trying to be silent, and probably waking up the entire carriage in the process. Eventually, security were informed and we were practically sent to bed. That’s something that hasn’t happened to me since I was about eight years old, but when a Thai security guard closes your curtain in your face you know it’s probably time for bed.
The next thing I know, I’m being woken up around 7am bring offered orange juice (which I’m sure contained around 90% sugar) and being informed that the train broke down in the night so we had around a two hour delay. Luckily, being a guy who often uses Northern Rail services I’m pretty used to such things happening so I wasn’t bothered.
Breakfast came and went (I had about half an egg and felt sick) and I fell back asleep. The next thing I knew we were practically in Chiang Mai and we were all under a self imposed drinking ban for the day. Whether it lasted or not is another matter entirely.