Bubble-wrapped mummy bikes - Unchained Melody - CycleBlaze

January 10, 2024 to January 11, 2024

Bubble-wrapped mummy bikes

Bangkok to Hua Hin by train

Dear little friends,

Of course it can be done. People do it, and are rightly proud of their feat. Should WE do it? Nah.

What IT is, is riding out of Bangkok. 

I hasten to add that we have ridden in Bangkok. On one terror filled evening in 2015 we rode several miles into Bangkok from the Southern Bus Station. It was dark, we were lit up like Christmas trees, motorists were courteous, but I want to point out that in the scheme of BKK street planning, it literally took us a complete mile of negotiating two long highway U-turns/flyovers simply to diagonally cross an intersection. No joke. 

In 2017 we also rode several miles from the Eastern Bus Station to the Northern Bus Station, this was in daylight and much of it along a khlong but still, in heavy traffic sometimes and it was an adventure.

So I feel like we have used up most of our Bangkok riding nine lives and plus it’s been ridiculously hot. We want to ride in the south again, like we did last year. The train it is. But wait, the old train station conveniently near our hotel, does it have any trains that go south? Yes, one. An ordinary class train that only goes as far as Hua Hin. And it doesn’t take cargo.

Which meant that the day before we left we removed our mirrors, rolled our bikes over the little khlong bridge and around the traffic bend to the station and into the “parcel room”. There we paid for shipping on the parcel train to Hua Hin later that morning, and we also paid for them to wrap them in something. Bubble wrap? Sometimes when you pay extra for a thing that they probably don’t really need then people take extra care of your items. You never know when your cargo will be cheek-by-jowl with cargo of a questionable nature. Once I had a backpack put under a bus next to a gas powered engine of some sort and it was never ever the same again. 

There was some confusion about just WHERE our bikes would be in Hua Hin, there are at least three different stations there, the new one, the old one, and some other mysterious one that most of the cargo was supposed to go to. After we looked befuddled as to just where that would be somebody asked somebody if they could be pitched off the train the same place we would be. Perfect. 

The reason we could walk away from our two adorable bikes as they leaned against some rice bags in the parcel office? Air Tags.

And yes, of course I monitored their journey all afternoon and they were at the new station in Hua Hin. But would we be there? Remember, Thailand is upgrading their rail system and there are new tracks, new flyovers, new stations, it’s a lot of construction and confusion. We just have to trust that it will all work out.

Next, we made a four night reservation for the Bangkok hotel in mid-February, when we will be packing and returning home. Then, we dug out our striped IKEA duffels and put a lot of stuff we didn’t need and stuff we shouldn’t have brought into them. Don’t need a fleece jacket, a hat, sleeping bags, that straw hat that should be more packable than it is, into the duffel. Bruce had even more stuff in his. The hotel will keep them for us for a month and we’ll be traveling much lighter.

Afternoons we do not poke our noses out in un-air-conditioned places but Bruce was tired of being stuck inside so he took a walk through Chinatown to take photos and I goofed off in our nice cool room. We went out later among the re-awakening streets as it got dark and somewhat cooler, found some dinner, walked along the river and watched a beautiful sunset and an aerobics class. Chinatown is really interesting and full of tiny twisted streets with all sorts of things going on. I really wish Bangkok wasn’t so hot all the time, it’s a great city, just hard to walk around in without melting.

Thursday morning we of course stuffed ourselves with breakfast fare, finished our packing, checked out, and tootled back to the station, seriously, just steps away. Our train was a few minutes late but there was plenty of seating and lots of open windows because no a/c, hair blowing, fans blowing, I dug out my bandanna again. How much did it cost to ride the ordinary train over a hundred miles? 44 baht apiece. About $1.30.

They are reconstructing some of the tracks at Hualamphong Station.
Heart 6 Comment 0
Hey, wait a minute, this ain't our train even though it was on our platform. It scooted out of there shortly after. Good thing we didn't get on.
Heart 4 Comment 0
Waiting in the heat.
Heart 4 Comment 0
This friendly dude/official came up to our window and shook Bruce's hand.
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Heart 7 Comment 0
There's always something interesting going on next to the tracks.
Heart 4 Comment 0
This is the NEW train station. After building it and putting a big "Bang Sue" sign on it, they changed the name to Krungthep Aphiwat, which we predict absolutely nobody will use. It will always be Bang Sue. Cue a response from Ron Suchanek when he gets around to reading this.
Heart 3 Comment 2
Lisa LeslieOh God! You just had to tee that one up from Ron.
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1 month ago
Ron SuchanekIt sounds like Sue is gonna be mighty busy with this new train station.
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1 month ago
Some retired rolling stock.
Heart 5 Comment 3
Mark Lellmanglad that wasn't your train.
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanTo Mark LellmanGhost Train
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1 month ago
Ron SuchanekThat's so cool.
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1 month ago
There's a lot of this in Bangkok, past prime ministers were cement corporation execs and made a killing.
Heart 2 Comment 2
Ron SuchanekIt looks like Dallas/Ft. Worth
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanTo Ron SuchanekExcept in Bangkok there are light rail trains that go over much of the city which I'm sure is more spread out than Dallas. And some of these are the new high speed rail lines. And then there is the subway, super modern, which you don't see. Bangkok has it much more together than most American cities.
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1 month ago
Heart 3 Comment 0
Heart 2 Comment 0

It’s a slow train, with lots of stops. As per usual the food/drink/snack sellers were on and off with their wares. It started getting pretty hot and a sweet-faced seller boarded with a cooler full of ice and pre-made drinks to pour into the ice. I didn’t want any of her drinks, I wanted to buy ice from her. She filled a tall cup, poked a straw into it, and waved away my payment. That kept me going. 

Heart 6 Comment 0
This seller didn't board the train, she sold through our open windows.
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Heart 2 Comment 0
Near the base of this karst formation was evidence that the cement companies have been mining the limestone from it. It's a shame.
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Heart 3 Comment 1
Ron SuchanekI love the train.
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1 month ago

Finally and suddenly the hot strong wind coming in from the east turned much cooler and the condos and ritzy high-rises along the coast near Hua Hin appeared. The train goes through a brief, mysterious tunnel, it’s actually going under the Hua Hin airport! Then we stopped, just past the old cute station and into the new station, still looking a bit unfinished.

Hua Hin's new train station has a new name too that is virtually guaranteed to be ignored as well.
Heart 6 Comment 0

I had two panniers, Bruce has three, we hauled them to the nice cool parcel office and cheered when we saw our bubble-wrapped mummy bikes leaning on other cargo. We paid 30 baht for “unloading fee” (?) and rolled them out into the station to get de-mummified   and then tried to find our way out of this station. It was not obvious.

Heart 5 Comment 2
Ron SuchanekThe unloading fee sounds like Ticketmaster convenience fees. I guess it's more convenient if they give you the tickets after you buy them, this the fee.
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanTo Ron SuchanekThere were lots of fees involved with this particular shipping of our bikes. All of it was unnecessary in my way of thinking because when we got on the train there was lots of space where we could have put the bikes. More space than the first train we took where we could take our bikes along on the train. I hate stuff that doesn't make sense.
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1 month ago

Whew, we’d made it! It’s a great feeling. The great feeling dissipated slightly while we were trying to cross the first street because as we were waiting for the traffic to clear a taxi driver was yelling at somebody and then suddenly came boiling out of his taxi and a fistfight was underway! A dozen Thai men jumped in to pull the two clumsy boxers apart. “Let’s get out of here!” And we did.

Our room was clean and nice, we found some pretty good food nearby, went to bed early. This time we were going to spend some time in Hua Hin and see why so many people like it there but honestly, I didn’t like it any more this time than I had last time. There are a LOT of leathery Westerners sitting in bars, walking around, some look okay, some look like they washed up from some longtime degeneracy. The food cart we went to had no prices on their menu, which meant they charge more for foreigners than locals. The vibe is just off for me. There is supposedly a beautiful beach there but in the miles and miles of it there is very little public access, each hotel/condo complex has their bit roped off. 

Our hotel's macrame game is spot on.
Heart 5 Comment 1
Mark LellmanI wonder what creatures live in that thing, and come out at night?
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1 month ago
This evening food court is mere steps away from our hotel door.
Heart 5 Comment 0
Heart 3 Comment 4
Steve Miller/GrampiesAndrea, you look dubious.
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1 month ago
Andrea BrownTo Steve Miller/GrampiesI wasn’t impressed with my pad krapao, it was definitely not the best I’ve had. But it was fine.
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1 month ago
Bill ShaneyfeltWuz gonna comment on the expression but Grampies got there first! :-)
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanTo Bill ShaneyfeltI covered mine with chilies and it was great. Except a bit out of focus.
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1 month ago

We went to bed undecided about Hua Hin.

Rate this entry's writing Heart 14
Comment on this entry Comment 1
Ron Suchanek"There are a LOT of leathery Westerners sitting in bars, walking around, some look okay, some look like they washed up from some longtime degeneracy"

Just so you know, I'm likely to use this passage somewhere in some writing. Properly credited, of course.
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1 month ago