Sunday, June 1, 2008

Bangkok to Chiang Mai by train (Part III)

11:30 - 12:10 Chan Sen to Nakon Sawan
Right before our stop at Chan Sen at 11:30, I notice harvesting machines in the fields around us. Must be a fairly wealthy part of farm country as this is some expensive equipment and there is a lot of it.

During this stop another train passes us heading south and we get our second meal, lunch, which consists of rice, a fish-paddy on top of the rice, a salad consisting of some "meat balls", sponge cake and water. A very Thai lunch but filling although the thing that is suppose to be fish leaves a bit to be desired.

I notice a very large Budha on a hillside off to the west of the train near the village of Ban Takhli. At 11:45 we pass through Huwai and there really is a noticeable change in the topology and the fields. Seems to be getting richer, lusher, with less people and far fewer houses. Even the size of the rice paddies seem to be increasing. The train's speed as increased as well through this less congested area, probably around 100 kilometers and hour.

Around noon before our stop in Nakhon Sawan, the hills start to form around use and it appears we are entering some type of valley with a long ridge to the east paralleling the tracks with a less defined area off to the west.

Nakhon Sawan is only mentionable as it appears to have quite a number of new homes built in large, housing estates. I also notice the first birch trees I have seen here.

13:00 - 14:45 Ta Phan Hin to Uttaradit
Ta Phan Hin seems like a fairly large town with houses overhanging the canal paralleling the tracks. After a freight train passes us heading south, we begin to move again.

At 13:15 we stop at the village of Prichit where we once again pick up many passengers. Still manage to hang onto my empty seat next to me.

At 13:40 we stop again at some place I am unsure of the name. Many get off here.

At the town of Phitsanulok, we stop again and let another passenger train pass us heading south to Bangkok. I notice a large hotel called the Topland. I also notice they ring a bell three times at each stop right before the train leaves and there is always one uniformed individual carrying a green and red flag that seems to be indicating when and if the train can proceed forward. Even in the smaller towns, there are usually two visible men in uniforms, one carrying the flags, signaling to us as we pass through.

At 14:20 we pass through Ban Khon.

At 14:25 we come to a stop in Phichai. Interesting place from what I can see with a 2 minute stop. As we start to pass out of the town, there appears a huge mansion off to the left. Somebody here has some significant money. There are also a lot of Telco towers in the area.

At 14:45 we stop in Uttaradit for 10 minutes. Long ridge of hills to the west which are very striking and tall over the valley. As the people move to get off the train, I notice a group of monks getting off here as well.

This seems to be a large town and has a very large train yard although I can't quite explain it, it seems odd. I have now noticed an increase of my uniforms and now am seeing a group of men with a different uniform and red arm bands. There is also a huge school complex here. For who and what I don't know as there are no signs that I can see that tell me what it is.

15:00 - Bandan - The Start of the Jungle Climb
As we start the climb into the jungle, I start taking more photos. This is definitely the second stage of the journey as for the past six and a half hours, the sites and terrain have been pretty much the same. That is all changing very fast.

The road that was along the tracks in this section of the trip would be an incredible road to wonder along on a motorbike. I'll have to remember to do that someday as it really is beautiful through here.

We pass through the first of three tunnels at 15:15 and than again at 15:20. The second tunnel is much longer than the first. At 15:25 we pass through the mountain town of Huai Rai without stopping and I notice rice growing from anywhere that seems flat and corn on any clearing on the mountain sides.

At 15:35 we enter Den Chai where there is a large train yard and several tracks. Here we also get another snack and drink. Feels just like kindergarten all over again. Guess it is time for my afternoon nap.

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