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Thailand forum

Chiang Mai - Bkk Train

Posted by scomoore1 on 23/6/2008 at 01:40

You can book train tickets on any train in Thailand at ANY train station in the country. When you book, try to have the agent put your name on the ticket.

Just took the overnight train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. Booked the a/c sleeper in Ubol.

The Chiang Mai-BKK overnight train has a lot of foreigners on it and some of the staff have developed some scams to use on farangs. The first is the 'welcome drink.' A pursor/waiter comes by when the train is underway with glasses of orange drink which he offers as 'welcome drink.' After the seal is broken and you're handed the drink, he'll tell you it's 70baht. Note to self: Ask how much even if offered as 'welcome drink.'

The same guy tried numerous 'misunderstandings' on us. One involved delivering a beer to our cabin... one that we didn't order. We wanted one but hadn't ordered it.

At Chiang Mai, the train station is literally across the street from a 7-11 and numerous noodle shops and small groceries, not to mention fruit and food street vendors. Stocking up on snacks, beer, ice!, drinks, fruit is the way to go on this train. The train's food was pretty weak.

Each car or pair of cars is assigned a conductor... with a uniform, unlike the pursor/waiter types. He's a serious and responsible guy, although friendly and helpful. You take of him and he'll take care of you.

It helps not to have to use the toilet facilities on this train. Our car was not full but the toilet managed to get filthy after the first few hours of the trip. The cars will rock until the line comes out of the mountains after about 6 hours. Harder to sleep while in the mountains, but on the plains, the train was smooth as glass.

#1 scomoore1 has been a member since 30/7/2006. Posts: 33

Posted by Tilapia on 23/6/2008 at 05:18

Good info.

Most people taking the trains do not know (and even if most did they would not care) that the waiters (the people who come around with menus, baskets of snacks, or buckets full of ice and drinks) do not earn a wage. The only take home pay they get comes from a pitiful percentage of any orders they take, or food/drinks they sell. Several years ago that percentage was 5%. Try feeding and clothing your kid(s), paying for fuel for the scooter, rent, etc. on that kind of money. Don't forget that part of one's pay goes to the head "porter" of the car, too.

Considering that many people bring their own food onto the trains (especially Thais), go to sleep almost immediately on later departing trains (especially Thais), and that the food is almost without exception substandard, a good payday for most of these workers might be around B100-B300. When a group of beer-guzzling foreigners invades one of their train cars the waiter of that car will feel like he/she has hit the jackpot.

I rode the Nong Khai-Bangkok train fairly regularly for a number of years. I got to know some of the people working on the train and learned that the train was not only their place of employment, but also their home. They did not earn enough to live anywhere except in a rail car where they would sleep while waiting for departure time. I am in touch with some. Their mailing address is the train and the car where they work and sleep.

I'm not in any way justifying what might happen with regards to "scams," but it is fair to say that in a country like Thailand many, many people are almost forced to slide down that slippery slope that we Westeners call corruption in order to make ends meet.

But, like I said, I'm not saying that this is okay.

#2 Tilapia has been a member since 21/4/2006. Location: Canada. Posts: 1,521
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Posted by paulspad2002 on 10/7/2008 at 01:14

well said tilapia, i also ride the trains a lot as i do visa runs and travel for the last few years here and am currently living in bangkok........i often take justa small bottle of water on the train and try to buy wat i can that look spalatable enuff of the waiters...drinks like pepsi beer orange or whatever is usaully not expensive...consider paying 70b in a bar for a beer and then convert it to what ud pay back home and its nothing, we forget that a lot of western countries have welfare, this one does not...ppl are made to live by their own means and i give full credit to them, im sure that a 15 baht coke is ot going to be 70b on the train more like 30 but so wat they havhe had to go buy it from their own money and is sure u have sold something for a profit before scomore 1......

#3 paulspad2002 has been a member since 8/7/2008. Posts: 21

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