I had a really hard time sleeping in our hostel last night. I was pretty much awake the whole night except for twenty minute spurts of sleep here and there. I say that now as I write this from the top of a bunk bed on a sleeper train heading to Chiang Mai (but more on that later).
The room we stayed in was located right of Khao San Road. It was a four bed hostel and cost us each about $10 for the night. Since there are only three of us traveling together we knew we would be paired with a solo traveler. When we all got into bed the other bed was still not filled but someone had left their bag on a bed so we knew to be expecting someone at some point in the night.
At around 4:00am I heard the door open and saw someone walk in. It was dark and I did not have my glasses on so I sort of acknowledged their presence but didn’t have a conversation with them. I turned over to try and get some sleep but then I heard some more ruffling, I saw Avi shoot up out of bed, and I looked over to see a Thai man in our room. This all happened very quickly and as soon as he was there, he was gone. I don’t think I fully comprehended the situation at the time but once our “roommate” came back to the room she started saying she lost the keys to her lockbox. Apparently, she had gone to shower but did not take the keys to her safe (and our door) with her. Someone came in, saw her keys, opened her safe, and stole her credit cards and passport. By this time we were all wide awake trying to decipher what had happened. Were any of our things taken? No. Did this person follow her back? Maybe. How did he know she left her keys in the room? Was he watching her?
Noam jumped to the rescue and immediately woke up reception. He offered Brit, the now named robbed roommate from Holland, some dates he acquired in India and tried to help her reach the Dutch Embassy in Bangkok. She was a bit hysterical but we were able to sit with her and help calm her down a bit. It turned out everything was going to be alright. We realized that, yes, this is probably the worst thing that could happen to any traveler, but it was still not the end of the world. She cancelled her cards and got a temporary passport and in the end she was still able to go about her trip. After this incident I really could not sleep so while Avi showered and Noam went back to bed, I took a little stroll. Bangkok is not the most exciting town but it was nice to walk by myself for a little. I then showered and decided to drag Avi on another walk with me. See pictures below. We went back to the hostel, ate breakfast, and had a little heart to heart. When Noam woke up we got to planning for our trip. Which leads me to the current sleeper train.
None of us were very enthused about staying in Bangkok. We wanted to head north as soon as possible. Bangkok is a great place to fly into and to spend a day but it is very crowded and there is not a ton of stuff to see. I had known this going in from my talks with friends who also traveled through Thailand. The overnight train costs about $25 and you get a bed in an air conditioned car. It, much like its name implies, rides through the night from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. This takes about 14 hours total. We booked our tickets for the 7:35pm train and then spent our day exploring Bangkok. We began our morning by doing yoga, led by Noam, in the patio of our hostel. He showed us the five postures you are supposed to do and helped Avi and I get them just right. We started with the headstand, then went onto do a shoulder stand, then we reached our hands to our toes, and finally we did two full body side twists. We are planning for yoga to be a part of our daily routine, especially now that Noam is a certified instructor.
We decided to go see The Grand Palace which was only a ten minute walk from our hostel. The palace was gorgeous. The design was intricate and everything seemed to fit perfectly into place. We spent time walking around and then sat in the shade and began discussing science versus religion. The conversation took shape and formed into devotions and the differences between doctrine, spiritually, and tradition. We also argued about fact versus theory and whether or not absolute truths exist. The discussion continued throughout the day and into the night as we sat eating and playing cards on the train (I promise I’ll get to that soon).
We stopped for pad thai for lunch which cost ~$1 for each of us. It is still very much Songkran and walking through the streets without getting soaked is no easy task. The water actually felt nice because of how warm it was outside. The weather was 95 degrees with 50% humidity. The humidity really kills us California kids (I know, I know, I have yet to experience New York summer). We went back to our hostel, where we had left our bags, at around 3:00pm and then at 5:00pm we took a cab to the train station to get us out of Bangkok.
The hostel recommended we give ourselves about an hour to get to the station because of how terrible traffic can be during Songkran. It turned out that traffic wasn’t bad at all but hailing a cab was nearly impossible. We must have asked about six different drivers if they would take us to the station and they all said no, rolled up their windows, and drove off. We finally found someone who agreed to take us the fifteen minutes to the station.
We got to our train, which was sitting in the station, about two hours early. We hopped on, found our beds, and sat around discussing more religion and science.