Upcountry day trip

Bangkok can be pretty stinky at the best of times, and Bob was riding around north of here, so I decided to meet him for a day of riding from Phitsanulok to Phichit. These two towns aren’t remarkable for much other than being on the train line which makes for easy access from Bangkok.

I sent my Grand Bois on ahead from Hua Lamphong station in Bangkok, praying it wouldn’t get damaged in the process. Then caught the train on Saturday morning to Phitsanulok. The rapid express had air conditioning and “only” took five hours.

After finding Bob and checking in at the glamorous Amarin Nakhorn hotel (350 baht), we had some dinner at the local Mediterranean fusion restaurant where I ordered a Greek salad. Expecting it to be awful, I was pleasantly surprised that it actually tasted great, had nice olives and feta and was considerably better than some that I’ve had in Sydney.

Being Phitsanulok, there is absolutely nothing to do once you’ve eaten dinner so we just wandered around town, visited the 711 and went to bed.

The route the next day was largely on quite roads, not too hot and at about 60km, exactly enough cycling. My original plan was to catch a train on Sunday night back to Bangkok, but the timing of the sleeper trains would have had me arriving back at Hua Lamphong at 4am which isn’t much of a sleep. So we found a new hotel in Phichit, ate dinner at the MK and once again went to bed early.

Monday morning I tried to get an “express” train to Bangkok and send my bike on a slow train later in the day, but the guy in the station either didn’t understand what I was trying to ask in my primitive Thai, or they simply didn’t send cargo from there, so I had to wait for a later, slower train. An exercise in patience, this train left Phichit at 10.30am and arrived in Bangkok at 6pm.  A mere 7.5 hours to travel 300km. The train actually moved at a decent pace, I clocked it doing over 90kmh most of the time, but it would stop at stations for an eternity and go slow in the middle of nowhere, and stop for who knows what all the time. I suspect the driver is told to stretch the trip out to the required length so that someone at the Thailand Authority of Trains doesn’t have to recalculate the timetable that was developed back in 1987.


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