I left Bangkok last night at 8:45 from Hualamphu train station for a 12-hour trip north to Nong Khai on the Laos border. The trip was actually fantastic, and now I feel free of the trauma of my 30-hour train trip across China. While trains in China are stark, white, and very prison-like, everything was very comfortable this time. I made the small mistake of saving $2 by reserving an upper sleeper compartment as opposed to a lower, which has a window, but I slept soundly the entire time. The compartment that I was in was rather small and I couldn’t sit up without hitting my head, so I didn’t. I wrote some postcards; maybe you’ll get one. They had curtains to keep the light out and offer some privacy which made sleeping a lot easier. I woke up this morning at 8am and had breakfast with coffee on the train and arrived just before 9am.
They don’t have tuk-tuk’s here (three wheeled motorcycle-cart things that are everywhere in Bangkok), but something very similar. It was a pretty strange motorcycle pickup truck hybrid-thing. I was taken straight to the best guesthouse that I had listed in Lonely Planet and everything there has been fantastic.
The place is right on the Mekong River; there’s a restaurant and garden overlooking it which is a superb place to read, eat, or chill. I haven’t spent much time there yet, but I plan to do a lot of reading and hopefully finish my book so that I can get another at a great bookstore down the street. I already found a handful of books that I’d really like to read.
As much as I like this place, I’ll leave Nong Khai tomorrow and cross the border to Laos (the border bridge is called the Friendship Bridge) and check into a new place there. There’s a short list of things to check out in the capitol, and then I’d like to take a five hour speedboat trip up the Mekong to Luang Praba which is apparently the most beautiful place in Laos. I got an e-mail from friends in China and I’ll meet up with them in two weeks, either in Northern Thailand or in Laos if I find a great place to recommend that we meet.
I saw today that Apple released a new iPod, called the Nano. I guess I got the shuffle just a few weeks to early – it looks great though, check it out: www.apple.com/store/