Daily Archives: July 19, 2006

Travelling North ?

Thungsong Junction Station

Sawat di , khrap ! Hello !

If you are intending to travel by Train to either Cha Am or Bangkok , from Nakhon Si Thammarat , there are two starting points !
1) If you don’t want to detrain at Cha Am , catch the train at N.S.T station . No problems .
2) If you want to detrain at Cha Am , catch the train from Thungsong Junction ! No problems .

There are mini-vans leaving from nearby the Nakhon Si Thammarat station regularly , and for a cost of 40 baht , you get a 50 minutes ride to a beautiful , mountainous train station . Thungsong Junction is a very large station and is a main junction for trains on the North / South route , in this area .

The train , itself , leaves around 18.55 hrs , although this , as with all trains , can vary .

The cost of a second-class , air-conditioned sleeper berth , is approx 750 baht for the bottom bunk , and 650 baht for the top , more confined , bunk . Slightly more for the Bangkok run from N.S.T.
Generally , the conductor makes all the beds by around 20.00 hrs and you can either go to sleep , or sit up and talk .
It is recommended that you take some form of refreshment with you (sandwiches/drinks etc), in case the fare in the cafeteria car doesn’t suit your palate . There are quite a few stops along the way , such as Surat Thani , where you can obtain some form of food/drink .
Some of the cars are antiquated , as with nearly all Thai trains , and send you to sleep with their ‘Clickety-Clack’ . A few are newer and less noisy . Both are reasonably comfortable . Toilets can be either traditional Thai-style , or , if you are lucky , Western-style . Most of the time , toilet-tissue is supplied .

Of course , there is ‘No Smoking’ on public transport , although this doesn’t stop determined puffers getting between the carriages and lighting up . I just wish they would close the doors properly , as cigarette smoke in air-conditioning , isn’t pleasant . Oh , and watch out for the rather hefty fine which may be imposed !

The train stops at many stations along the way , so a quick trip isn’t on . Remember also , that there is only one ( 1 ) track from the North to the South ! If your North-bound train meets a South-bound train , one of you has to get off the main track , to a siding . If you get there early , you may have to wait for a while . If you get there late …! Ha ! Just joking , folks !

OK , approximately 14 – 15 hrs later , the train pulls up at Cha Am . Because the train seems to be about 10 miles long , with 6000 carriages , and the Cha Am platform is only 100 mtrs long , only the first-class carriage and the engine , get to pull-up close to the platform . If you travel second-class , you’re usually at the end of the train , and have to alight onto the tracks ! This isn’t too much of a problem , except that , it is still pitch-black dark at 04.30 hrs in the morning !
By the time you walk a substantial distance to the station area , you could have an hour’s wait for a motorcycle taxi because , either they are not used to anyone getting off at Cha Am at that time , or , because most people get off at Hua Hin – 30 kms south , stay there and commute .

But , don’t let that worry you . Cha Am is worth the visit . I feel it is somewhat cooler than Hua Hin . It certainly is a wee-bit cheaper . It is less busy and a far less bustling city . The beach is the longest in Thailand and there’s plenty of chairs and umbrellas to go around . Unfortunately , there are no Aussie-style waves ! There’s heaps of good quality Hotels in the area ; The Regent , The Methavalai , The Long Beach , The Golden Sands , and many , many hostels .

Have a great trip !