We were all dreading another overnight train after the last one was such a horrible experience that we hadn’t quite got over. We stocked up on beer to get us through the night, but thankfully, it wasn’t that bad.
There weren’t separate cabins on this one so at first it just looked like a regular train. We could all sit together and it was really clean and bright and not a cockroach in sight.
The locals must have thought we were crazy as we spent most of the journey un-braiding Jess’ hair which she’d had braided 6 weeks earlier in Bangkok. The Thai guys who walked up and down the isle selling beer thought it was hilarious and one guy just stood and watched with a big, toothless grin like we were the most entertaining show on TV. After a few hours we had a whole bag full of dead hair and Jess was left looking like Tina Turner.
At about 10pm, a very stern and angry looking woman came down the isles and, as if by magic, converted our seats into luxury double bunk beds and suddenly the whole train turned into hundreds of little bedrooms. She did it so quickly I could barely work out where the table disappeared to and where the double mattress and quilt came from. It was like watching a video in fast forward as she sped up the carriage and the little blue curtains were drawn and people disappeared behind them.
The next morning, at about 6am, the same stern and angry woman came back along and the same process occurred in reverse. She didn’t say a word but somehow managed to scare people out of bed and turn the hotel back into a train before we even knew what was going on.
We went back to the same haunted hotel that we were in before we left Bangkok a month before. They must offer some kind of reward for people who are brave enough to return and they put us on the new side of the building which was massive with thick, squidgy carpets, huge baths, springy mattresses and power showers. Heaven.
It felt like such a luxury. We’d started to get used to concrete mattresses and showers that were more like hose pipes. The showers in most ‘hotels’ through Asia are made for mini people and are usually above the toilet and spray the whole bathroom with ice cold water while you struggle to get underneath it because the toilet and wash basin are in the way. It took a while to get used to leaving your towel and toilet roll outside the bathroom door.
It was nice to be back in Bangkok, in a city that we knew our way around. We knew which bars to go to and which restaurants to avoid, (never eat spring rolls from the street vendors, you will regret it). It was good to be somewhere familiar after spending only a couple of days in each place we’d been.
But Bangkok, and even Koh San Road, is such a crazy place we still found new places we’d never been before. And I found a ‘Boots’! I must have walked past it loads of times before when we first started travelling and I thought I had no need for girly things that smell nice but I was starting to miss just generally being clean so I stocked up and went back to the hotel to soak in the bath.
It was our final night together as a group so we went out for a big meal and a big night out. Dara showed us a club that you would never notice unless you knew it was there. There was just a tiny door on a little side street that led into a huge, modern club like the ones at home. It had air-con which was weird after being in sweaty little bars and it was only lit by little fluorescent lights but was nearly pitch black around the dance floor.
We drank whiskey buckets and danced on the stage all night and it was pretty emotional saying goodbye the next morning.