Butterworth to Bangkok: 24 Hours on a Train

I was on a train for over 24 hours.

I didn’t exactly realize it would take so long, I thought maybe 18 or 19, but I was wrong.

It started out fun enough. The Butterworth to Bangkok train was just 2 cars, both old sleeper berths with two facing benches and a secured upper level that would turn into beds later. I made good progress on my book – Grisham’s The Pelican Brief, a mystery that I’d picked up in New Zealand and been saving for a long haul like this when a book that reads like a movie would help pass the time – while waiting for the border stop.

The border was easy enough: all stuff off, stamp out, stamp in, stuff on scanner, back on the train. When I got back on my warm vegetables and rice dinner was all set up in my booth for me (a rip off at 17 MYR but a good decision on my part since I’d underestimated the next day’s train time and would need my snacks then). It was decent and at least came with enough fruit to last me three breakfasts.

I figured we would get moving any minute but I was very wrong. Again. It was almost 2 hours until the train started rattling along. I have no idea why. But I’d gotten out my computer during this time and productivity struck. All those blog posts that have been posting daily for the past couple of weeks were written on this train, from leaving Khao Lak to Singapore.

Around 8:30 the guy came to turn my seat into bunk beds. I had the bottom bunk, thank god. I cocooned myself in my private room and read more Grisham till I felt tired enough to fall asleep. It was nice to finally have a bed on overnight transportation.

The morning was a little brutal. I kept thinking we would be arriving any minute and we kept moving. Morning turned into afternoon and I was still crouched in my little bunk. Where was the guy to make this a seat again? I kept shifting positions, trying to read. My iPod had died the night before when I fell asleep listening to it. Time kept passing and we still weren’t there. It wasn’t until around 2 when the train finally pulled into the Bangkok station. About damn time.

I was relieved to get off the train after such a long trip. The feeling of air rushing past me in the tuktuk felt fantastic. I was in Bangkok, and just hours away from another reunion with travel friends. That always makes the trek worth it.


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