From Kuala Lumpur I boarded an early morning bus to Butterworth, got briefly freaked out by bus station shills claiming that the onward train to Bangkok had be cancelled (something that happens not infrequently) then had a huge sigh of relief when it turned out they were doing the normal shill thing of lying through their teeth to sell a bus ticket (a good travel tip: when somebody approaches you voluntarily with information or help, especially in a 3rd world country, 99% of the time they’re trying to rip you off in some way or the other. Always confirm with somebody official and/or disinterested-looking).
After hand-signalling my way into a plate of fried rice at a local food stand and blowing the cook’s two small children’s minds with some paper airplanes, I settled in on what would be the most spacious, comfortable train ride of my trip. Generally, the only folks making the 20 to 22 hour trip all the way to Bangkok are tourists, with Thais and Malays getting on and off all through the route. I quite enjoy a long train/bus ride, actually, and outside of talking to the other tourists, eating good cheap Thai food available at each station and sold on board, and relaxing with my novel and a few beers I’d savvily brought along, I just watched the lush green rice paddies, jagged karst mountains, and thick palm groves pass by.
I hadn’t planned much for Thailand, as I’d already done much of what I wanted to in the country on an earlier trip with Jeonghee, but seeing as I had an afternoon and evening to fill before heading onward to Cambodia in the morning, I decided to tag along with a Swedish guy and U.S. serviceman on board to see what mild debauchery we could get up to. After starting with a little afternoon drinking and Gai Mai Med Moung at the backpacker central of Khao San Road we headed to the Chao Praya River with some coke, red bull (the real, original Thai concoction) and Sang Som whiskey and spent an hour on a boat winding our way through back canals and past stilt houses.
After that we scared up a little mini-Hangover 2 action (probably overselling it, but Bangkok even at its most tame is plenty seedy) at a few of the local night-time hotspots topped by a far too late motorcycle cab ride through the blazing neon and sobering, cold night air to catch a few hours of rest before the early morning ride to the Cambodian border.