I"m taking the overnight train from BKK on the 17th to Trang and wondered if I should be stocking up on snacks & meals etc. One hears so many horror stories about the quality of train food (to be avoided at all costs...) I'm not sure how much of a lead time I'll have to go shopping. I arrive into BKK from CM at 12:55 and have till 18:20 to get across town to the train station.
Thanks in advance
#1 sologirl has been a member since 15/8/2006. Posts: 4
Personally don't mind the train food - there's a farangafied Thai menu... 6 hours from BKK to the train station is BUCKETLOADS of time -- no sortage of spots at the station to buy Thai and western food.
#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,738
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Personally i would mind the train food... our trip a week ago from bangkok to thurat Tanni saw me walking past the food cabin to see one of the guys handling food with his hands with a cigarette in his hands, sweating and wearing a singlet. Wasn't a pleasant look at all.. Thankfully when the bus's took us to the port to goto Ko Phangan there was really nice salad rolls made for us.
#3 corzor has been a member since 10/2/2007. Posts: 3
I'll repeat what I've said before about the train food, which is that it's no great shakes and not a particularly good value either. Even so, it is part of the fun to have the stewards bring the food right to your seat and set up the table for you, etc.
If you are travelling with a partner, you can always order one meal and split it, just to get a sense of the experience. I often choose to have dinner before the train departs and carry a few snacks on board, but then order a breakfast to enjoy an hour or so before the train arrives. Breakie should set you back around 100 baht or so. Dinners are more in the 150 baht and up range.
Apart from the food on board, as Somtam says, there are plenty of western- and thai-style food outlets at Hua Lamphong Station, where you'll easily be able to grab food to carry onto the train. There are also a few convenience stores in the station and booths next to the tracks selling snacks and drinks. You'll have no trouble loading up on the snacks you'll need.
The Western food one orders for breakfast is usually pretty bad. The Thai food is definitely mediocre (I mean, how can you screw up rice soup???). Also, if your breakfast arrives and your table isn't set up because the person beneath you is still snoozing, then you end up having to eat sitting up (half bent over) in your berth. Last time I ordered breakfast the server brought it to me while I was still asleep. She woke me up then slid it into my berth and walked away. Better to go and get it in the dining car IMHO.
I think this was a rarity. Usually the service is much better ... and far better than the food.
I'd also like to add this - The people who work on the trains serving food do not earn a wage. A friend of mine was a server on the Nong Khai to Bangkok line, 2nd. class, non a/c sleeper cars. What she did earn was 5% of all the sales she made during the trip. You can imagine what that would add up to when considering that people get onto those night trains later in the evening (usually having already eaten ... several times) and sometimes head straight to bed, then disembark not long after sunrise. Not much of a living. On a good night she'd earn about B100. On a quiet night, or even a quiet week, she'd earn close to nothing. A lot of these guys/girls/ladies make their home on the train, as well. Most don't leave the train when they arrive in Bangkok, either. They'll roast during the day while waiting to leave in the evening.
It's a very difficult situation for many of them. So, if one of them offers you a menu and give a look of pure disappointed when you refuse it, this is usually why. They DO care if you don't order anything, unlike a server who might be paid by the hour or day (or month).
I'm not writing this because I think that people should eat on the trains. I rarely do. But, I'll always have a coffee in the morning and tip them when I pay. And I never get off the train without slipping B50, or so, to the guy who makes the bed and fluffs my pillow before I crash.
I know it's not custom, but it does make a difference to them.
ok ok.... train...a great experience but a 1600bht flight with air asia definately made my decision on how i was getting back to bangkok....as long as you plan before hand there are some seriously cheap flights
#6 corzor has been a member since 10/2/2007. Posts: 3