Boat To Train To Plane to Boat - Ongoing Adventures In Asia

I'm on a boat. Again. In the last week I've "slept" prison dorm-style on a car ferry, on a "bed" that felt like a concrete bench covered by a thin sheet, on an actual concrete bench, in a steamy no-frills sleeper train car, and finally on a plush, cool, and downright comfortable berth in the forward cabin of a boat moored in Hong Kong Harbor. Such are the joys and sorrows of opportunistic traveling, or "first-world third-world problems" as our new friend Grant (Grant? I think it was Grant. He fed me scotch, so the details are a little fuzzy.) dubbed it last night.

So yes, we're in Hong Kong. As you gleaned in the opening paragraph, getting here was an experience in itself. The prison-esque car ferry and the rock-hard bed were how we got to and stayed in Ko Tao, respectively. (The story for both of those was well-documented on Periscope, and you can watch the archived vertical videos on my YouTube page.) The proper trip to Hong Kong started with the literal concrete bench.

The original plan was to take the fast-boat from Koh Tao (same island, different spelling) to Chumphon, where we'd have a few hours to eat and leech the free wifi at Farang Bar to catch up on work before our overnight sleeper train departed for Bangkok just before midnight. (Pro tip: Any plan that includes "work" and "bar" is suspect, unless you are a paid employee of said bar. Any other arrangement makes you a patron of said bar, which requires your full attention. Or at least it does mine.)

After three hours where "work" was replaced with "teaching a Dutch couple how to play Fluxx for three hours" and "drinking another big Chang", we began assembling our luggage for the five-block walk to the train station. Ivor, the proprietor of Farang, suggested we wait a while longer, as our train was running 134 minutes behind. (An oddly specific number, I know. But that's a story for another time.) 

After a few more hours of drinking big Changs (Fluxx, by this point, was beyond our ken), we made our way to the train station, where we joined a ragtag group of weary travelers who did not have the benefit of a prescient Ivor stopping them from arriving at the train station four hours too early. However, further delays were discovered upon our arrival, prompting me to catch forty winks sprawled out on a stone bench while we waited for the train. A train that finally arrived at just after 3:00 am.

Eyes heavy with all-too-brief sleep and brain fuddled with way-too-many big Changs, we made our way onto our assigned sleeper car. I say "we" though I wasn't really sure where Sheila was at this point. Rumor has it I was focused on finding another horizontal surface. Pronto. Somehow I managed to stash my bags, crawl into the correct cubby, and not take off all my clothes. This, after all, is Thailand, and that sort of behavior is frowned upon. Luckily for me, a fan was positioned right outside my cubby. Unluckily for me, the thick curtain that blocked out the always-on interior light from the train car completely blocked all of that airflow, increasing my sweating-out of the prior day's (night's?) drinking.

 Only more than slightly hungover on a train.

Only more than slightly hungover on a train.

Train travel in Thailand, if this single jaunt was any indication and once you actually get on the train, is fairly efficient. It's by no means high-speed and makes stops at most stations along the way. And at each station, local food vendors board the train hawking their wares, continuing on our journey for a stop or two until they've made their circuit of all the cars, where (I suppose) they reverse the trip to get back to their home station. I'm sure the food they offered was tasty, but my belly was a bit sour from the prior night's (day's?) activities and a bit queasy from the swaying of the train. The less time I spent on and around the squat toilet in the back of the car, the better.

We pulled into the Bangkok station at just before noon. After a tuk-tuk ride, lunch, drinks (just water and a lime & mint shake for me, thanks), and a movie (our first since leaving America), I crashed for a solid 10 hours. Not quite what Murray Head had in mind, but it worked for me. And now, 24 hours later, I'm on a boat in Hong Kong Harbor, with three days to kill before we take off to ride yet another train for 15 days in Vietnam. Glutton for punishment? Yeah... that's me. Cheers from Hong Kong!