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Sleeper-train, Bangkok to Surat Thani
After 11 days it was quite emotional bidding farewell to my wife’s family. My son and daughter were upset to be leaving the family village but they were excited about heading to our next destination, Koh Samui in the south of Thailand.
We caught a train from Buriram to Bangkok and changed trains at Bang Sue Junction. The journey from Buriram to Bangkok had taken 6 hours and now we had another 10 hour+ journey ahead of us to Surat Thani. Surat Thani is a town on the main southern railway line, from there we would catch a cab to Donsak Pier around 70 kilometres away (฿1000 to ฿1200 in a taxi) and then take the ferry to Koh Samui (1.5 hrs and ฿130).
The train was a sleeper-train and we were looking forward to getting the heads down as we had been up since 4.30am and already it was mid-afternoon. The 2nd Class Surat Thani sleeper-train pulled into the station at 3.50pm and we bundled aboard with our luggage; it was a brief stop and before we had time to sit down the train was rattling out of the station.
We located our seats and wedged our luggage into the storage racks. The seats on the sleeper-trains convert into the lower bunks, the upper bunks are pulled down from their storage position and are accessed by a fixed metal ladder; neither bunk is made up for sleeping until early evening, when an attendant comes around with clean bed sheets and blankets and expertly makes the bunks up in a flash.
We took to our seats and almost immediately I noticed that the train had a heavy police presence. I asked my wife why there were so many police on the train; she leaned in close to me and muttered under her breath: ‘…because a 13 year old girl was raped and murdered and thrown out of the window of a sleeper-train by a railway employee in 2014.’ I could hardly believe my f#cking ears – what a sad and mental story. And what a sick c#nt to have carried out such a despicable act.
Read the story here
Despite the initial horror at hearing the information my wife had just dispensed, I managed to dose off for the first 30 minutes of the journey with my head resting against the window.
I awoke to my wife gently shaking me from slumber; a policeman had asked to see my passport and I had it in my back pocket. The policeman was apologetic for having to wake me but told me that it was police policy to establish who (whether Thai or foreign) was riding the trains. I told him ‘mai mee panhaa’ (no problem); he smiled and continued up the aisle checking ID cards and passports.
I had to take my hat off to the Thai authorities for continuing the beefed-up security on the trains two years on from the terrible incident. In my experience, Thailand is generally a safer place to be than most countries in the west. Bangkok, for example, as long as you observe the same common-sense precautions that you would in any big city, is probably as safe as any big city gets; tourists often remark that they feel perfectly safe walking around Bangkok, even in the wee hours of the morning.
However, crime does exist in Thailand and over the years – like most places in the world, tourists in Thailand have been victims of crime; most crimes – thankfully, are usually relatively rare and minor incidents, but serious crime, such as muggings, rapes, and murders have been committed against tourists in Thailand.
for Surat Thani hotels see here
My 16 year old daughter and 12 year old son were travelling with us. I don’t buy into this ‘paedophile around every corner’ bullshit that we’re forced to swallow in today’s paranoid world, but I do admit that if not for the police presence on the sleeper-train I would have been somewhat anxious in light of what had happened to the young girl (even although it was a two year old crime, and the perpetrator had been caught and sentenced to death – result!).
Anyway, my sincere condolences go out to the 13 year old’s family, but sleeper-train travel in Thailand is regarded for the most part as a safe and enjoyable way to take long journeys around the country. By 6.30pm I could hardly keep my eyes open, and the wife and kids were the same, so we asked the attendant if he could make up our bunks; we had booked the top bunks (the lower bunks are more expensive as they are wider and have a window, but as usual we left things to the last minute, and by that time all the bottom bunks were gone). Nae big drama! At least we had a bunk and I for one was choking for a kip.
When the attendant was done making up the beds I clambered up the metal ladder to my bunk and pulled the curtain across. I was looking forward to getting to Koh samui – a bit of sun, sea, and sand, where I could put my feet up and mellow out on the beach all day. I’d been stressed ‘oot ma nut’ back in Scotland and Koh Samui sounded like a good place to try and find a bit of balance in my life. I lay there, thinking – day-dreaming about Koh Samui mostly and what I was going to do when I got there, until I eventually succumbed to the gentle, rocking motion of the train as it rattled along the track…
for Koh Samui hotels see here
Read my Koh Samui post here
See Donsak to Koh Samui ferry times & prices
Read more articles like this here
‘Have you ever thought about starting up your own blog? see my blog post here‘
‘In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.’
Copyright © 2017 Raymond Carroll