Sunday, April 20, 2014

ToST III - Part 2

Spent the whole day on the rail..

We boarded train no 452 headed towards Surat Thani from Hat Yai.
The fare was 21 baht (RM2.30) per person, which is really cheap.
It took some time for the train to arrive due to some delays. And in Thailand, its -01:00 to the local time and Sunset was at 06:28. 
We get a shorter daylight here compared to home.
The journey to Pak Khlong train station took nearly three hours.
None of us could sleep as we kept watch of our bikes.
Then, the head conductor came and demanded a fee for the bikes.
Each oversized luggage was charged another 90 baht. So, for five bikes, (one full-sized tourer), we were charged 450 baht.
One interesting part about taking the local third-class train in Thailand is the fact that you will never get hungry.
Peddlers would move in and out selling their food in the form of snacks and fried chicken.
There's also people selling drinks throughout the journey...

Waiting for the delayed coach to Pak Khlong
A peddler selling food onboard the third-class coach

A view from the seats
After paying up, the train conductor was "nice" to us.
He came back with some change and a set of receipts. 
We went past Patthalung and our destination was three stops away.
I was actually horrified by some of the halts where where literally a marker stone on the side of the track.
But to my surprise, Pak Khlong is a full-fledged station. 
As a matter of fact, it's a small town and the gateway to Thale Noi.
Roger said it's only 8km away from the train station and the terrain is rather hilly.
The train pulled over at Pak Khlong and we had very little time to unload our baggage and bikes.
This called for teamwork and everyone played their part.
We unfolded and deployed the bikes to begin our 230km ride from Pak Khlong to Hat Yai.
Roger greeted us at the station.
"Eh, I am so worried of you guys have stopped at the wrong station..," he said.
And the fear of a complete shutdown during Songkran was clearly unfounded.
For this, I packed at least 10 extra kgs of gear.
Rather than the usual, I was using my Ortlieb backroller which is capable of hauling 20 liters of cargo on each side.

At Pak Khlong train station after traveling for more than 18 hours
I can see that most of us were tired from sleep deprivation and the only thing that was on our mind was a nice hot shower with some air-conditioning.
For two nights in Thale Noi, the rooming charges were 500 baht per night. This is pretty decent for a small town..
We made a pit stop at a drink stall and hydrated ourselves before making that 8km ride to Thale Noi.

At the drinks stall in Pak Khlong

The 2008 Dahon Speed P8 hauling at full capacity

Happy blogger Sin and his ride
The journey from Pak Khlong to Thale Noi

Time was fading fast as we rode towards the waterfowl sanctuary.
We did at least an average speed of 15km/h towards the Thale Noi intersection that connects to Ranot and Patthalung, a route that is familiar to us.
Roger led the way as we climb a series of hill before rolling down into the junction that leads to Ban Thale Noi.
By the time we got there, the sun was setting.
We checked-in at the Thale Noi resort and sorted out our rooms.
There, we booked five rooms and everyone was happy that they don't have to spend the night in a temple or rough it out in the open.

A street food fair in Thale Noi

Hawkers offering Som Tam or papaya salad

Having our dinner at Samkok restaurant near the junction to Ranot
Pat showing off his fried fish
The long day ahead..

Roger told us that he had booked a boat ride around the lake.
We are good to go at 06:30am, so, the plan was to set out at 05:30am and have some breakfast near the Thale Noi ranger's office.
We had dinner and discussed about this and since there's food available, our worries were allayed by the fact that some shops are open despite Songkran.
At the Samkok restaurant, the food was brilliant.
We proceeded by getting some beers and rode back to the resort to continue with discussions and a night cap.

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