As a writer, and someone who loves to travel, I am always down for a trip. So when my boss called me awhile back and ask me if I would like to accompany him and a few friends on a boat cruise, I jumped at the chance. Why not?

Now, anyone who has gone on a trip with their boss knows two things are true.

  1. Everything will be paid for
  2. The boss will probably commit sexual harassment.

I arrived at the Hua Lumphong station and met my boss and his friends. The boat ride was only one way; from Ayuthaya to Bangkok. So we had to get to Ayuthaya. We got our tickets (free for Thais, around 15baht for me) and then sat down with a coffee and waited for our train.

For this train ride I didn’t have to get my own tickets but I have dealt with the ticket counter at Hua Lumphong (Bangkok’s train station) before, if you are new to Thailand don’t be scared, you may not have a full conversation with the ticket guy but he definitely understands the name of your destination. So just walk up and ask for a ticket. The destinations are posted above the ticket counter so it’s easy to find the right one.

“Wow,” I thought. Free for Thais and really cheap for me. Why? Is this a third class ticket? It is a third class ticket. I have never been on a third class train before. This should be exciting; or scary.

“How long is the train ride?” I asked.

“About three hours.” My boss said.

“Son of a bitch.” I replied.

Once we boarded the train we got our seats. The seats are more like benches for two people. I am 203cm tall so no one was sitting next to me for sure. The aroma of the train is a beautiful cross between old Lao Kao rice wine mixed with vomit and a dash of feet. No one on the train shops at Paragon, drinks Starbucks or speaks much English; which is fine by me. Too much Paragon and Starbucks will rot your brain. And one thing about third class train riders is that no one is showing off and everyone gives you a smile…and some may knife you in an alley. The woman across from me flashed me a big beautiful blackened smile. The black is due to chewing mhak; betel leaf, slivers of areca palm nut and a bit of lime paste.

The train was hot. No problem because I always travel with a towel or a handkerchief; something I advise every Farang to do in Thailand. The smell of the train diminishes after a few stops and the train isn’t so bumpy that you can’t read a book. The scenery was beautiful.

Seeing as I was traveling with Thai people I knew I didn’t have to pay too much attention to the station names, I mean it’s not like my boss will leave me on the train right? But if I was traveling alone I would keep my guard up a bit more and listen. Bang Pa In is the station where we got off. In Thai they will say Sa-tah-nee (meaning station) Bang Pa In.

The train ride wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, and for a short ride there is no reason to spend a lot of money on a first class ticket.

Once off the train we took motorbikes to a restaurant nearby to kill some time and enjoy a nice lunch on the water. After; we motorbiked to our destination, an island in the Chao Praya river where the boat was docked. We opted for the convenience of motorbikes but most people take a song taow (a truck with two benches in the back).

The island has one thing; Wat Niwet Thammaprawat or the Gothic Temple. The island is accessible by a cable car that slowly carries you over the Chao Phraya. The temple is very different than any other Buddhist temple because it’s built to resemble a catholic church. Stained glass windows, steeples, and even an altar are among the catholic-esc architecture seen here.

Why a catholic church you ask? Well Rama 5 (Chulalongkorn) was in Europe on holiday and loved the style, look, and beauty of the churches there. So once he got home he commissioned one to be built (the year was 1878).

After a short walk around the temple and taking a few photos it was time to get on the boat and head to Bangkok. The whole trip was awesome, from the third class train seat to the ever so fascinating view of Wat Arun as the boat enters Bangkok city. It was a wonderful 24 hours.

For more info about the boat ride check out: http://www.asianoasisblog.com/a-cruise-down-the-river-of-kings/