We’d been doing a bit of moving lately, and it was time for us to get from Bangkok to Koh Tao, and once again we’re going to be riding the train. We did things a bit differently on this trip. We’re took the Sleeper Train! You better believe we were getting some AC this time.
You may recall that we tried to get tickets for the sleeper train when we traveled from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. We were not able to get tickets for a sleeper car or AC last time. This time around, Heidi booked well in advance, and we are all set. I have to say, I wasn’t very excited about 10+ hours on a train again, but it was the best way to get where we need to go.
There was a lot going on the day of our train trip. This day was going to be a bit of a weird day for us. You see, one member of the crew will be leaving us, and heading back home to the good ole’ U.S. of A. Yep…Gma Bev will be saying goodbye to us. Our Adventure333 trip will end, and another travel chapter for the Wagoners Abroad will start.
We’re all downstairs waiting with Bev, saying our goodbyes. Her taxi comes to pick her up from the hotel, and after another round of hugs, and a few tears, Gma Bev is off. Goodbye Bev. It was a real kick in the pants having you around.
The plan was to check out of our room about 1PM, then hang out in the lobby until it was time to head to the train station. Luckily for us, our hotel was across the street from the train station, so we didn’t have to worry about a taxi, tuk-tuk, or even city traffic for that matter. Way to schedule things, Heidi!
OK. It’s time to get focused on getting our gear all packed, and checking out of the hotel. Once we check out, it’s a matter of just waiting. Our train doesn’t leave until 7PM, so we just hang out in the hotel lobby (AC and free WiFi!). After a few hours of reading, going to the 7-Eleven, playing games on the iPad, we need to think about heading over to the train station. It’s only a 5 minute walk, so once again, we’re at Hualamphong Station in Bangkok with all of our belongings.
Heidi does some double-checking to make sure nothing has changed with our reservation. No problems there, and we know our track number, so we relax on the floor next to the hundreds of other passengers. I strike up a conversation with a fellow traveller who happens to be American. He works half the year for the U.S. Forestry Service, and the rest of the year he travels. That sounds like a pretty nice gig!
I see a number of people starting to migrate to the train, and as it’s getting close to 7, it’s probably a good time for us to get on board. Woo hoo! We find our seats, and it’s a “typical” train layout where there is a bench facing forward and a bench facing backwards, and the benches are on each side of the train. Along the aisle are the luggage stands. As we’re getting seated we’re all trying to figure out how the whole bed thing works. Lars and Anya explore the train, and Anya comes back and announces that the toilet empties out onto the tracks. It’s just an open hole. Eww! That would make walking on tracks a very unhygienic endeavor.
With the seating arrangements all squared away, we meet our neighbors who are a Canadian family of four traveling for a year. Wow! Sound familiar? The Turners (Paul, Jennifer, Elizabeth, and Jack) are a great bunch, and we’re comparing notes about all of the places travelled, and the places to be travelled. It turns out both families are trying to make the former a bigger list. 🙂
It’s funny, but when you’re talking travel with other like-minded families, the time just flies, and before you know it, it’s time for the beds to be made. The porter/bed guy come over, and gets to work. There is a special tool which he uses to release the top bunk, which contains the mattresses for both the bunks. Very clever. He gets the beds put together with sheets and pillows in about 4 minutes.
All of our beds are made, and I have to say, I was very surprised at how much room there was. It’s not enough for me to fully stretch out, but it’s big enough to get a decent sleep. Each cubby has a draw curtain for privacy, but when the curtain is fully engaged, it can get a bit warm and stuffy, so it’s necessary to keep it open a bit. Heidi had this all figured out as she had her curtain open about a foot, and she was already trying to sleep. The kids were still very excited, so I keep watch over them, and messed with them a bit before it was time for me to sleep.
Normally I would have no problem drifting off to sleep, but we arrive at Chumphon stop at around 4 AM, and it’s not the last stop, so I’m worried about oversleeping and missing our stop. I don’t sleep so well over the coming hours, and yep, Anya was correct. A hole…straight through to the tracks. I do manage to catch a couple of hours, and by the time I wake up, the rest of the train is starting to wake up. The porter guy comes by and tells us the next stop is ours and it’s about 15 minutes away.
We arrive at Chumphon station, hop off the train, and are greeted by a bunch of other weary travellers waiting for the next mode of transportation to pick us up. While we’re waiting for the bus (that will take us to the ferry), Anya and Lars get some toast and hot chocolate, and it’s pretty good. We chat some more with Paul and Jennifer, and they also have a blog named Turners Travels. It’s nice having all of the kids and adults chiming into the travel conversation of favorite places, countries, etc.
After an hour or so, the buses arrive to take us to the ferry port. It’s roughly 30 minutes away so the families pile in and we’re off…again. We have an uneventful trip, and we arrive at the ferry port and see a beautiful sight…sand! White, fine sand that feels really good on the feet. There’s also an incredible sunrise that we manage to capture.
Anya and Elizabeth have become fast friends. Not only are they both traveling kids, but they have the same exact birthday. Those two are busy checking out the area while Lars is just wanting to find a place to sleep. Me? I’m standing in line waiting for them to start boarding.
It’s a relatively short wait, and once the boarding starts, it’s a mad dash by everyone on the pier. We all make it aboard the huge catamaran ferry, and find good seats on the top. With the boat loaded with people and luggage, we pull away, and the water is very calm, and very beautiful. During our two hour ride, the kids watch the “flying fish” coming off the bow. It’s amazing how far they can fly outside of the water.
It’s been a long trip. We’ve been on an overnight train, a bus, and finally a ferry, but we have finally arrived in Koh Tao. The Wagoner and Turner clans exchange numbers/websites, and plan on meeting up while in Koh Tao. Now we’re off to find our hotel!
Booking tickets in Advance:
You have a few options to purchase in advance:
- Purchase directly at the train station in Bangkok.
- Purchase from a travel agent within Thailand.
- Check with Seat61 for several online options to purchase tickets from Bangkok to Koh Tao in advance.
Have you ever done a sleeper train, and what are your thoughts? Share with us below.