Chiang Mai, Thailand
We definitely achieved a chilled out day as planned. For the most part we strolled around Chiang Mai, shopped a little (not that I had room for the sneakers I bought in my luggage) and generally took it easy. For a while we were being directed here, there and everywhere, looking for a shop that would exchange our Laos kip, which successfully wasted some time for us. Towards the end of the day we ended up back at a bar (where else?), where I picked up a t-shirt I had ordered for my dad two days previously (with 10 minutes to spare).
At 6 p.m. we boarded our overnight train to Bangkok. The train was surprisingly great. We had an upper and lower bunk, which started our as spacious seats with a table between us. The four-course dinner we ordered was not too bad, although I don't consider an apple to be "dessert". This was followed by many card games to pass the time away. At 9 p.m. the staff converted everyone's seats to beds and turned the lights out by 10 p.m. I scored the lower bunk, but as it was the bigger of the two I had to sleep with my backpack (it wouldn't fit under the seat - a sign I bought way too much on this trip). Lying in bed while the train was moving turned out to be almost soothing, and the sound of the train drained out the sound of the snorers (which we could hear every time the train stopped). Despite the relaxing feeling, neither of us slept much.
The lights came on at 5 a.m. (what??) and most people got up and ready straight away. We ordered breakfast: the eggs were great but my toast came with pineapple jam (I don't recommend it). Danny's cheese and ham sandwich was served without crusts and came with a side of fries - just what you want at 6:30 a.m. Our train was due to arrive in Bangkok at 7 a.m. but didn't reach the station until 8 a.m. We tried to hurry to the taxi rank but the National Anthem blared out of the loudspeaker, forcing us to stand still and wait for it to finish.
We finally made it to the taxi and told the driver where we wanted to go. A little way into the ride we had the feeling that we weren't heading the right direction. After half an hour the driver announced, "We're here". Er, no. No you're not. It turned out the place he drove us to sounded very similar to where we wanted to be but was in the complete opposite direction. And Bangkok traffic is baaaaad. An hour later we arrived at Danny's aunt Jo's place, two hours after we had planned. (The taxi ride only cost $7 for an hour and a half of driving - amazing.) We had just enough time to shower, grab our luggage that we had left there and jump in a taxi to go to the airport. Thankfully this driver did not go the wrong way.
Here ends the South East Asia leg of our journey. From Bangkok we flew to London, the start of an almost year-long trip around Europe.
Click here to continue reading about our adventures over the other side of the world.