Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Train rides, train snacks!

I have always been a train person. When I was a kid I used to regale in the opening lines of Merle Haggard's Mama Tried. I would ride my horse on springs enthusiastically to this opening:

The first thing I remember knowing,
Was a lonesome whistle blowing,
And a young un's dream of growing up to ride;
On a freight train leaving town,
Not knowing where I'm bound,
No one could change my mind but Mama tried.

Being an American has meant either riding the poor excuse for a train, which is Amtrak, or leaving America entirely for a ride on the rails. Thailand does not disappoint. Not only are the rides beautiful, they are also full of snacks. A match made in heaven really.

To give you the impression that train rides in Thailand are just a day in heaven is misleading though. They are slow, hot, and crowded. They are usually late, and feel longer than they should. So why ride at all? Everything and anything edible comes aboard the third class train: rice meals, meat sticks, coffee, even durian. You just need to sit back and see what comes your way. Watch the beautiful scenery, watch for snacks. It really is quite fun. If you have a white face, vendors will offer you beer at all hours of the morning because everybody knows that westerners are all alcoholics.

The above refers to the third class trains. If you take a second class or a first class, you'll have aircon and closed windows. To have closed windows makes it feel like you are in the car. Car travel is something I might wish upon an enemy of mine. Sometimes the windows are even frosted so you cannot see out! Also, they do not let the vendors on. Oh my god.

I never take food on the train, but if for some reason I do, it is food that I've bought on the platform, not some packaged junk at 7-11.

On a recent trip to Kanchanaburi, we spotted a lovely kai palo in a banana leaf.

This dish is cooked in large pots of sweet broth flavored with cloves. The above includes an egg and tofu. The above is lacking in the pork department, otherwise it would be called moo palo.

E's mother D was keen on this one, and we quickly snatched up a couple to tide us over until the next vendor passed our way.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We just returned from a very pleasant train trip to Seattle on the Cascades (commuter train)but we still have a soft spot in our hearts for the third class trains we rode in Thailand. M&S