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Running away from Home

Riding the Rails to Chiang Mai

THAILAND | Wednesday, 27 January 2010 | Views [346]

The receptionist didn’t seem shocked when I told that the room I just vacated was a complete shithole and not worth 550 Baht, but then again it was 5:00 in the morning and she was asleep. I dropped my key in the box and took off to the railroad station. I had walked the distance the day before, so I knew that it was doable, even in full gear. I just didn’t know how long it would take. A cab driver approached me and asked where I was going. I told him the train station. He offered a ride. I said that I would walk. He smiled at me and told me it was too far. I just kept walking. Ten minutes later, I was at the train station. A man in uniform approached me and asked to see my ticket. He noted, with some amusement, that my 6:23 train was running 40 minutes late. If he had seen my hotel room, he would have understood why I was so anxious to be at the train station, even if it meant jogging up and down the platform to avoid the mosquitos.

The men in Thailand seem to take my independence personally. I take their underestimations of me as a challenge. I feel triumphant when I succeed in doing what they told me I couldn’t. They enjoy it when I make mistakes. It’s a sick relationship, and I’m afraid someone might get hurt.

Despite the fact that the train was very, very late, I enjoyed the ride to Bangkok. My five-hour layover in Hualamphong station went by quickly before I boarded the overnight train to Chiang Mai. I sat opposite a Brit named Ollie who taught English in Hanoi and hated bureaucracies. He was the type who liked to soothe his own insecurities by criticizing others. We had a brief discussion on the usefulness of travel guides and how large my pack was, and then he wandered off to find a beer and I didn’t see him again that night.

I had just a curtain to insulate me from the noises of the train and that made it difficult to sleep, but I had a lower berth and I liked the dimensions of my little cubby. I thought that this form of overnight travel was more preferable than a bus, and I promised myself that if I ever ventured down south again I would go someplace where a train could take me.

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