Photo of the day: Kaeng Kari Moo (Pork curry) @ Khao Gaeng Jake Puey.
It is our last day in Bangkok. We will be taking the overnight train to Chiang Mai tonight. We saw most of what we wanted to see here. Since we had an early morning start yesterday, we did not want to rush too much this morning. We had a nice breakfast over at Wanderlust (apparently the only nice coffee shop in the area), then packed up and checked out of our hotel.
We wanted to see the Wat Pho before we left, so we headed over there. Originally I planned to see the Wat Pho, Grand Palace and Wang Lang Market since they are all close together but that might be a little ambitious. Plus the Grand Palace is not even open for visitors because of the King’s death, so we would only be able to see the exterior and the Wat Phra Kaew. I did a lot of research on proper attire at the temple, so we arrived at Wat Pho at noon, dressed in a t-shirt, clean, unripped jeans, with no hat. I was melting. I then looked around me at people wearing spaghetti strapped short dresses, some in short shorts and others with ripped jeans right where the knee is (the part you were supposed to cover). I do not regret dressing appropriately, out of respect, but I regret coming at noon. We quickly made our way around the temple, admired the grand Reclining Buddha, grabbed the little bottle of free water to cool down somewhat, then decided it was time to go before we got heat exhaustion.
What I really wanted was to just chill in an air-conditioned place for a while. It was time for lunch so we went across the street to Elefin Coffee. We ordered some drinks to cool down. Aaron had their cold brew, which he thought could’ve been better and I had their lychee soda, which was very refreshing. Just like the lemon sodas I’ve had in Vietnam, they gave me all the ingredients and I mixed it myself, so I was able to control the amount of lychee syrup to add, which I appreciated! For food, we had their Tom Kha Kai, Pad Si-ew and lemongrass chicken. The Tom Kha Kai was a lot more coconuty than what we’ve had in Canada, but otherwise very similar in taste. The Pad Si-ew used very broad noodles, almost like lasagna, and was pretty tasty. The lemongrass chicken was also good. Overall a pretty decent meal for an assumed touristy place since it was right across from the Wat Pho.
At this point, we were really not interested in being out in the hot sun anymore, so we decided to head back to the hotel. Aaron wanted to get a massage, but I did not really feel like it, so I just did some blogging then went on one last food adventure before we left. Mark Wiens recommended a curry and rice place nearby called Khao Gaeng Jake Puey. It was not hard to find but as soon as I arrived, I realized this was a local hotspot. The menu was all in Thai and there was a line of people as well as many more sitting down waiting for their food. Everyone seemed to be speaking only Thai but I decided to join the line anyway. When I reached the front, I was asked if I wanted to eat here and was told to sit down. I eventually waited for a chair to free up, but at this point I wasn’t sure if I had to order again since the person running the take-out portion is not the same person dealing with the eat-in customers. Eventually, the nice gentleman noticed I was so clueless and asked me what I wanted. I pointed to the picture on Mark Wiens blog then he acknowledged me and walked back to the stall. He came back with a plate just like the picture. A creamy coconut curry with pork ribs, sausage and pork on top of rice. I was excited. I took a taste of the curry and it is exactly my type of curry – creamy, sweet, and not too spicy. In terms of the meat, I wasn’t as impressed by the ribs as Mark Wiens was. I found it kind of cold and I’ve had better tasting ribs. I also was not too impressed with the sausage, as it was dry and hard. The pork was good though and the curry was delicious. It was very reasonably priced at 50 baht. Mark Wiens paid 60 baht, so I knew he wasn’t over-charging me as a tourist. Aaron was just finishing up his massage and decided to come over for some curry as well! I went over to 7-11 to pick up some snacks for today’s train ride while waiting for Aaron. I taught him the ropes of how to order and the man recognized me and said oh “same same”. Unfortunately, they were out of ribs, so he suggested chicken but then they were out of that too, so Aaron got the “sweet pork”. I guess their ingredients are in short supply so go early!
It was nearing the time of our train so we picked up our luggage then tried to call an Uber. The wait time at this point for a ride was more than 15 minutes, so we decided to walk instead, which would take us less than 15 minutes. It’s good we took the Hua Lamphong subway a few times, so we knew approximately where the train station was. It was difficult though to try to cross multiple lanes of traffic with our luggages without a traffic light. We made it onto the train with 15 minutes to spare and being in the comfort of a relatively clean and spacious private cabin made it all worth it. We had a few visits throughout the night, first to ask us if we wanted orange juice and to order dinner and breakfast. Next, to help us make up our bed. Then, to check our tickets. I always wondered why they usually wait so long to check our tickets. What if we got on the wrong train?
The toilets were actually quite clean at the beginning of the night and is well stocked with toilet paper, although I am pretty sure someone was smoking in one of them. As the night progressed though, the westerner’s toilet got so dirty I decided to use the squattie for the rest of the trip. And when I would rather use the squattie, that says a lot. I do no blame the attendants though but rather the passengers who made the mess. There was also a shower in the squattie washroom, which I did not use. They did not give us a towel but we were using the blanket that we got as a towel for our hands throughout the trip.
I’ve read on Trip Advisor and also saw on Miss Mina Oh’s video that they should be giving us water for our ride. It wasn’t until 11pm rolled around, that I realized it wasn’t happening. By this time, using the call bell did not work and I couldn’t even get to the dining cart since there was a man sleeping between our cart and the next. This is when Aaron’s water purification tablets came in handy. After 30 minutes, the water was good to use to brush our teeth!
The cellular connections was spotty and there was no wifi on board as someone had mentioned in tripadvisor, so my plans to upload a blog tonight did not go through. I decided to just sleep instead. I managed to get a full nights’ sleep on the train. It did get noisy but that was easily solvable with noise-cancelling headphones. I did wake up throughout the night coughing but trying to conserve the little water we had.
Our breakfast was delivered to us at 7:30 am and finally I was able to request for more water. She came back with 2 waters but also 2 orange juices – the same as last night – sugar galore. The breakfast was ok. I had heard terrible stories about the food on board so at least it did not taste stale or rotten.
Then around 9am, our beds were converted to seats again and our attendant came back one last time to settle our bill. You see, we were aware of the charge for the breakfast since that was the only thing she gave us a menu for but did not know whether we will get charged or how much we will be charged for the water, juices, tea/coffee etc. It appears that we were charged for everything at quite high prices so I was not too impressed with the non-disclosure, but I guess I was responsible for asking.
Overall, I really enjoyed my train ride and it was a great way to see some scenery and experience riding the train in Thailand. It really did not waste that much time since we were able to sleep throughout the ride anyways. The railway station was right in the city and it saved us time from getting to the airport and going through security. I would definitely recommend this to anyone considering training vs. flying. The only caveat would be to bring your own food and water. Don’t allow them to pressure you in accepting any drinks or anything you don’t want. Use the washroom earlier in the evening and use the squattie if needed.