Ruth: Today we cycled 53 km from our hotel near the Bangkok airport to Rangsit, a major town north of Bangkok. From there we caught the slow train north. When the train arrived without a luggage car the crew waved us away until the station staff convinced them that our bikes could fit, and of course they did, barely. We have now been on the train for a few hours and are settling into our ever changing community.
Our seat mates are Thai ladies who, in spite of only a few words of English, have shared their stories, food and even a phone number. Non-verbal communication really is amazing. The lady across from me lives in Phitsanolok, has two grown children and was recently widowed. At least, I think that was what she was saying. I pulled out my camera to show her pictures of our house and cat. Food was being exchanged between all of us, with some of our banana bread graciously accepted and squirrelled away for later.
Each station brings another group of food vendors selling everything from curries to fresh pomelo wedges with sugar. Just like on the Camino, the community becomes warmer as more time is spent together. We were just invited to stay at one ladies house, but we had to explain that we already had a hotel reservation. Remember this is all happening through charades, and oh you should just see my hair!
When we were in Thailand three years ago we also rode this rail line, but it is so scenic that I am happy to do it again. We will spend a total of seven hours on this train, averaging a stately 50 Kms per hour. The route goes up through the central plains, full of rice fields and egrets. Limestone ridges topped with enormous golden Buddhas and white stupas rise up suddenly from the flat plains. The slow speed of the train allows us to really see everything, right down to the lotus filled water channels.