Train to Korat

Trip Start Aug 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 15, 2005

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Flag of Thailand  , Nakhon Ratchasima,
Saturday, September 17, 2005

Today was mostly a travel day, but being unorganized, I prefer to think of it as an adventure day. This is limited as always to the extent my companion will allow. As I read "The Hobbit" on the train, I realized my companion is much like a hobbit. He enjoys the homely things in life like eating, sleeping and eating but above all else, dislikes adventure. I'd give a quote but the The Fellowship of the Ring is much better.

We headed toward the train station unaware of what might await us. Once again, the second class was slightly faster, but 5 times more expensive at 430b. Third class, 78b, go go go. Unless you require air conditioning and a giant comfy seat, there's really no reason not to take third class. With the open window, you're never hot and the area is clean.  The window also provides superb clarity viewing the countryside and listening to the outside. The environment is a lot more local as well; there are hardly any other tourists in third class. Most of the locals pay little attention to us, but children are an exception. Small children love to sit and stare at us from the adjacent seats. They don't quite understand that cameras work even in my lap, so its easy to snag pictures of their stares.

Every station along the path from Ayuthaya to Korat (Nakhon Ratchasima) was well maintained with a staff of at least a few train officials. This is despite the fact that maybe 2-3 trains a day pass through these towns with only a handful of passengers. Thailand's economy does well though, and they are trying to pull themselves into the developed world. They seem serious about making the government trains and busses clean and reliable. They still have a ways to go on schedules though, our train was 25 minutes late and we were more than an hour late by the time we arrived at our destination. The Ayuthaya station even had a sign declaring what prices were reasonable to pay the tuk tuk drivers for 20 different destinations around town. Despite this, the tuk tuk's still ask for more, I guess to test the obvious. Our trip was 140km, but stopping at every town (4-10km) stretched it out to a 5 hour trip.

The north-central countryside consists of vast prarie lands with a wide variety of vegetation and agriculture. Again, much of it reminds me of back home: corn fields, prarie grass, and deciduous trees. The occasional rice paddy and palm leafed tree only add to the beauty. Every so often farmers wandering their fields with hoes will fade in and out of view amidst the crops.

The hotel we're staying at is again superb for the reasonable price of 320b. We have all the perks of our last place, but with a TV and blankets on our bed. The only news channel we get is Fox News, but there is some channel called "Reality TV" that is more like "The Learning Channel" back at home. In fact, I think it plays shows from Discovery and TLC. Perhaps the American "Reality TV" has not caught on in the rest of the world. We can always hope.

Tomorrow we try for Phimai and another regional city, both containing fully restored temples.
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