Bangkok Interchange Station

17 May
Bye bye Malaysia - Hello Thailand

Bye bye Malaysia - Hello Thailand

Bangkok seems to be a central point in South East Asia and in my trip around the region: cheap flights, good connections, lovely shopping, exciting nightlife, efficient infrastructure, great people,… It’s like an interchange station between different parts of my trip, between nature and back to civilization, between luxury and back to basics, between shopping mall’s food courts and street food.

This time round, I tried something different and traveled overland, by train, and almost lost my luggage in the process. I took the night train to Bangkok from Butterworth (North Malaysia, in front of Penang island), which set me back 105 Ringit but saved me a night in a hotel. It was also 22 hours of rambling route and forced relaxation, finally having some time to read the brick of a book that I am carrying with me already for a month or two.

My Wedus travel companion

My Wedus travel companion

The train was airconditioned, but grown used to the exotic temperatures, I was freezing and putting on 3 T-shirts to be warm (this seems to be a general ailment in trains and planes – they are toooo cold). The bed was quite comfortable, and I had a peaceful sleep, not without my ear plugs though, families with babies obliging.

At the border everybody got off the train, walked into a building through one door, got our out and in stamps, and then we came out another door (on the same platform) and got on the train again that was waiting. In the process we were screened for swine-flue symptoms with a special camera that measured our body heat. So I’m not afflicted by the pigs’ flue… yet.

There was even dinner and breakfast brought to your table if you wanted, except I didn’t have enough money left. No worries – the restaurant guy said (having Bath signs in his eyes) – you can get off the train in Hat Yai and go to the ATM. So I did, but when I came back the train had gone… with my bags! Heeeelp. What does one do in that situation…

Such a relief to have my bags back

Such a relief to have my bags back

I started running back to the platform like a madman (don’t know why because the train was gone anyway), but a few smiling station guards (obviously familiar with these kind of outburst of panic) told me to stay where I am. The international train from Butterworth was driven out of the station and back in again on a different track to connect to a local Thai train bound for Bangkok.

You can’t imagine the relief when the train (and my belongings) rolled in again.

Moving between worlds

Capturing Bangkok s Beauty

Capturing Bangkok s Beauty

The day long journey gave me time to make the shift between different world

  • from the relaxed beach in Penang to the sprawling metropolis of Bangkok,
  • sliding from white beach sand into the concrete jungle,
  • exchanging my beach bungalow for a skyscraper hotel,
  • eating in some nice restaurants instead of street food
  • swimming in a rooftop pool rather than an ocean,
  • from doing nothing into having a full time programme visiting sights, shopping and partying
  • instead of guys hoping they would become a ‘good muslim’ and married, I frequented guys that were gay and proud of it
  • the hidden gay life made place for boys shows with public show of ‘affection’ let’s say
  • from being accosted by some guys that want to sell tourist crap, investing in my wardrobe (new style) at the Chatuchak weekend market.
This is also Asia/Bangkok

This is also Asia/Bangkok

Bangkok is a bit between East and West, with its developed skyscrapers, public transport etc. But on the other hand street food, cheap prices, Asian flair,… Just like at the breakfast in our hotel: West (croissant, toast, egg, sausage, bacon, cornflakes) meeting Thai (noodles, rice, rice porridge with pork).


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