Traveling Third Class, Standing Room Only


I went to buy snacks. Lina our train tickets.

I thought I took some time, as I couldn't find anything good near the train station and ended up settling on a bag of Lays—to make it exotic, they were seaweed flavored. I found Lina not at the ticket desk, but in some office around the corner—never a good sign.

"What's going on?"

"They are out of seats."

"Oh boy."

"So it will be standing room only. They didn't want to sell me the ticket."

But of course we were getting a ticket. Lina can talk her way in to (and out of) pretty much anything. It took her talking to 4 people, all if which did not want to sell a standing 3rd class ticket to a white person, but we had to get to Pat Chong.

Given the rudimentary booking technology used (i.e. pen, paper, phone), I figured we'd be able to find different seats at every stop. We were luckier. We boarded straight on to the restauraunt car. After walking through the kitchen we found a seat at a plastic table in some tiny plastic chairs. Ordered a beer—over priced at 100B—but at least it guaranteed us a seat. The other tables were filled with locals, none eating, only drinking, so it was really more of a bar car with hot food if you cared for it. A rolling dive bar, Lina the only female, of course.

enjoying a beer in the bar car with our 3rd class "standing room only" tickets

It wasn't long until we became bored at nursing our 630mL of Leo until I whipped out a deck of cards. Lina beat me a few times at her own version of Gin Rummy, but the locals really took notice.

TIP: Even if you aren't a vegetarian, learn how to say you are

It's rude to refuse food or drink from the locals, so it's the most polite way to refuse mystery meat.

The guy behind me refilled my glass with fresh cold beer. I turned it down until Lina nodded that the source was ok.

this guy insisted on pouring me whiskey and beer… later, both in the same glass

That initial gesture turned the bar car into a party, pouring local whiskey and beer. All with 5 hours left until our station! How could we last?! Especially on practically empty stomachs.

We became friends with someone dressed in full uniform as a sailor and even better friends with his new friend. We whipped out our translation book because other than "hello", no one spoke english on the train. Unfortunately, we couldn't understand anything our new friends said to us!

thai navy represented well

We survived. I kept my glass full of beer to keep the whiskey away, but body size also helped—Lina was bigger than most of these men—many were bouncing off of the wall, some passing out, another was brought/carried to the bathroom by a friend.

What a funny experience! I just wish our translation book worked both ways, so we could have a conversation.

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