|The exterior of the train from Butterworth to Bangkok|
This was the first overnight train ride of our trip.
The journey begins in Georgetown, where we walk about 30
minutes from our hotel to the ferry terminal. We could have taken a taxi, but
didn’t feel like being ripped off (Penang cab drivers don't seem to like using
their meters). We also could have taken the CAT, a free tourist bus, but I
could figure out how and when that came either. So we walked. In the sweltering
The ferry terminal is not clearly marked and there’s no useful
signage, but getting to the platform is pretty obvious and there will always be
people coming or going.
We got there just as the ferry arrived. They let the cars
board first then the people. No tickets or money is collected in Georgetown, so
it’s a free ride.
After about twenty minutes we reached Butterworth terminal,
and it was easy to find the train station from there. There are only two
platforms, and they look very modern. Butterworth train station, however, was
under construction when we visited, and was little more than a makeshift blue
Our train was on the platform 45 minutes before departure,
which was a relief. We bordered 30 minutes before we were scheduled to leave at
2:00, and the train took off right on time, another rarity for Asia.
We ate dinner at the border, where the train stayed for
about an hour and a half. I ordered one of the dinner sets and a Thai beer. The
lunch was absolutely enormous and neither of us could finish it. It was nice to
be able to eat without the train moving, but the stop felt unnecessary. We all
got through immigration and customer in under 15 minutes. So the rest of the
time passengers wondered around bored and aimless.
During the day, the seats are set up facing each other.
Around 7:30 pm, the train staff come and set up the beds. The two seats fold out
into a spacious lower berth, and the upper berth is created from a stow-away
shelf. I had been given an upper berth but I could absolutely not sleep in it.
For one, there is no window and it is so low that you can’t sit up in it. Also,
the train started to sway dramatically in the middle of the night, and I was
afraid I would fall from the awkward ladder they built to get up there. So my
partner and I shared the lower berth, which is wide enough to uncomfortably fit
one skinny person and one slightly chubby person (I'm the chubby one). Sleep on the train was only possible in 30-40
minute nibbles, until on of us stirred, moving an arm of leg and waking the
other, or until the train neared a station, when the florescent lights would
break through the train windows and knock us awake, or until the train passed a
busy street and would sound our arrive with its horn.
We did not take the train all the way to Bangkok. At 7:20 am, just 30 minutes past our scheduled arrival of 6:50, we pulled into Hua Hin Station, where we would stay for three days.
|Upper berth during the night time set up|
|Passengers getting ready for bed|
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