Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Thailand

At last we are back in contact with the world again! We are now in Thailand staying with our friend Glynn in Chiang Mai, who – if you have been keeping up with our travels – we last saw in South Africa when we stayed with his cousins Neels and Sandra. We arrived in Bangkok on Monday 10 March (Clare’s birthday – hope you had a happy one, darling) just before midnight and reached our hotel about one o’clock in the morning! We stayed at the 50 year-old Atlanta Hotel (formerly called The Continental) – and they don’t seem to have changed the décor since! We found the hotel quite eccentric, but charming – in a mad sort of way – and have decided to stay there again when we return to Bangkok. In their own words they are “…an old-fashioned place of charm and genteel character in downtown Bangkok with the secluded and secure atmosphere of a private club and the facilities of a small resort for sleaze-free and wholesome tourism.” There are numerous notices and exhortations to behave dotted around the hotel and it is said that one could spend a day reading there and never have to open a book!

On the Tuesday we took the night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. Glynn had thoughtfully booked us bottom bunks so that we, being geriatrics, didn’t have to climb the perilous-looking ladders to the top bunks. This was a good move as the bottom bunks are wider and more comfortable than the top bunks. I had thought that I wouldn’t be able to sleep at all on the train, but, in fact, I slept soundly and woke refreshed in the morning.

When we first arrived in our carriage, we couldn’t imagine how the bunks would be arranged as the carriage looked like a normal railway carriage. Even though our seats were either side of the aisle, we were instructed to sit together by the carriage attendant and a kind Thai gentleman showed us how to extricate our table from under the floor and assemble it. We were then brought the menu and asked to select our meal. We noticed that only the farangs (foreigners) were ordering as the locals all had brought in take-aways from the station kiosk and – too late – we realized that this was the thing to do as the meal was overpriced. Notwithstanding, we enjoyed the meal tremendously and put it down to experience.

Soon after finishing our dinner, the carriage was magically transformed into sleeping booths with curtains – rather like that scene in ‘Some Like it Hot’ where Marilyn Monroe joins the band on the train. Another advantage of the lower bunk is that one can either draw the curtains or look out at Thailand rushing by. Before I finally fell asleep I saw numerous markets with people still shopping or eating and families sitting outside enjoying their evening meal.


  1. The night train must have been a great experience! I had a lovely birthday thanks - not as exciting as arriving in Bangkok, but very nice all the same. Jessica made me breakfast in bed (I didn't even know she could use the toaster! - there was about half a tub of butter too much spread over the top, but it's the thought that counts... bless!)

    Make the most of the last few weeks of you trip.

    Looking forward to seeing you soon

  2. Was lovely to chat to you yesterday - Jessica was really excited to tell John that she spoke to you both on the phone. I told him how you fell about when she said he was at the pub (apparently Everton lost, so it was a worthwhile trip to the pub!). Enjoy Thailand xxx


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