15 hours on a second-class AC sleeper doesn’t sound fun, but turned out to be a smooth ride. Knackered by this point, I went with the flow on board – overpriced separate farang menu (nice spicy soup, D- cashew chicken), super-overpriced Chang – “What did you say, 120 baht for 660ml of 6.4% silky smooth heaven!? – I think I’m in shock – bring me two” and the icing on the cake, toilets with a view – straight down to the track beneath… Opposite me were Brian and the lovely Sabena from Hamburg and, when most of the carriage settled down for the night at 7.30pm, it was off to the open windowed restaurant car for some serious Northern European drinking (rule number one – always order the next beer before the first is finished). Even that kicked us out abruptly at 10pm sharp, which was probably a good move considering how bad I would feel the next day (dehydration plus alcohol – the winning formula). Returning to our seats, they had miraculously disappeared and been transformed into bunks covered with clean sheets and pillows, with blankets still individually sealed in laundry packaging.
I could just about lie flat on a slight diagaonal, and the liquid sleeping pills I’d taken kicked in and I was away with the fairies until Surat Thani at 5am, where it was goodbye to my train buddies. An 820km train journey arriving bang on time, with a comfortable and clean air-conditioned bunk, for £15 – wonder if I can get a State Railways of Thailand T shirt on the Khaosan??
It's not easy to run a tourist-focused business in Trang - travellers want to get in, then straight out again, either island-hopping like me, or killing time before the sleeper to Bangkok. But the people at the Sri Trang Hotel are having a stab at it - big rooms, good aircon, wifi on all but the top floor and eclectically furnished hangout area with good coffee if you need it. The long-haul travel, Bangkok's madness and last night's Chang craziness had finally caught up with me, so decided to pause here for 24 hours.
Sights? Well, there's a wat on the other side of the railway tracks (gave it a miss), a wet market (up too late) and the night market - described as the best on the Andaman coast, which is pushing it, but good fun. I went with an empty stomach and started with mini-fried eggs (20p), then the local crispy pork with sticky rice wrapped in a banana leaf (24p), moving onto a prawn and egg pad thai (60p) and finshed off with coconut cake (20p) - an expensive evening out. Leaving the night market, an elephant with disco lights wandered past on the main road - just like home...