We have arrived in Bangkok. I am now past the regrets and can actually appreciate this adventure that I thought we were too old for. We are reminded of our hippy trek days – we are the age of the parents of the young trekkers with their backpacks and bronzed faces, those who are of European, American, or Australian stock. The locals are more in our age category, at least some of them.

With all the boxes and cases stowed it started to get kind of cozy. Our seats already had a table put up between them with the meals we ordered back in Malaysia and two cups of tea. Axel had his remaining beer and we placed the full and empty can in the handy bottle rack until the steward told us that alcohol was forbidden. There was indeed a large sign that we had not seen. He quickly grasped the empties and squeezed them until the labels were no longer readable. The full one was pushed out of sight. A sign, next to the alcohol sign, said that inappropriate behavior would not be tolerated. We were happy about that.

Around 9:00 PM the sleepers were prepared by the steward who moved fast through our car, lowering the upper berths and making the beds with the bedding hidden behind the folded up top berth. Each sleeper bed had a turquoise curtain for privacy. The number of each seat was embroidered in the middle of the curtain reminding us to creep into the right berth after a visit to the toilet.

At first things were a little noisy – mobile phones went off and kept ringing when the owner had already fallen asleep. A few small children played electronic games with the most annoying sounds, but eventually everything went quiet as we thundered through the narrow landmass between the Malaysian border and Bangkok.

We stopped a few times, some people got off but no one got on, except for hawkers feeding the few sleepless travelers and knowing exactly when it was time to get off the train. Cars were added or taken off judging from the loud maneuvering bumps up and down the train.

The toilets were old but stayed cleaner than the toilets on Emirates’ Dubai-Dhaka flight. There were sinks for brushing teeth and washing up and a restaurant car that served meals and (non-alcoholic) drinks. A tiny galley produced food for those who didn’t want it from the hawkers.

Everyone slept late – by 8:30 AM most curtains were still closed. We waited in vain for our paid breakfast and bought it again from the restaurant car when that transaction seemed not to have registered: a sandwich made from soft white bread with mystery stuff inside, two tiny bottles of over sweetened Tang and a cup of tea. A little Thai or Chinese girl entertained us for a while waiting for her grandparents to wake up. We rehearsed colors in English and she helped me with my iPad puzzle – moving the pieces with her finger to her great delight. She babbled on and we talked back in English, smiling and getting smiles.

I concluded that it had indeed been a great adventure. We had spent a very comfortable night, more comfortable than business class in a plane – all this in 2nd class. And now we are in Chinatown in Bangkok in the Shanghai Mansion boutique hotel, ready to have a great meal.

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May 2016
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