1. Riding The Rails: Nong Khai & beyond
Last February preparations were beginning slowly to get made for another trip, this time centered around the Lao high-speed train roughly for a 6 - 7 day period in early April.
The impressive entrance of Krung Thep Aphiwat Station
Besides experiencing the train Tim really had his mind set up on checking out Oudomxay (*) and afterwards 'catching a bus to wherever’…
However, David had limited time and therefore would have to leave halfway.
As for Ray, he was always happy to go wherever we were going!
This station is seriously HUGE!
That left me trying to organize some stuff according to these very vague guidelines!
Despite the Lao train being the most advanced piece of railway transport in S.E. Asia, getting the tickets turned out to be a different story, only available 3 days before departure!
I booked the tickets through Khiri Laos and found a possible hotel in Vientiane.
It seemed to make sense to book our first hotel as we would arrive in the early evening and probably not in the mood for trying to find something on the spot after a long day of travel.
I mailed my friends a link to a possible guesthouse in Oudomxay, but as that was a bit further ahead, nobody seemed to care much about it.
Booking tickets online for a Bangkok - Nong Khai day train didn’t work out at all and when I suddenly remembered the nearby Taling Chan Junction Station I couldn’t be bothered any longer.
The next morning on my cycling trip I made a stop at this station and got 2nd class tickets for David and me, a piece of cake!
A few US dollars, Lao Kip, and 2 tickets, kind of a start at least!
With Tim living in Kalasin and Ray in Surin they had to make their own way up, the idea being they would board our train in Khon Kaen.
As for the rest of the trip, wait and see, a great recipe as usual for adventurous disasters and fun!
So on April 1st I set off by taxi to the new Krung Thep Aphiwat Station and got dropped off half an hour at this massive new building.
The food court
David had already arrived there and we quickly went for the food court which was pretty acceptable, good selection of food, and decently priced too!
After coffee, we started looking for our train, not difficult as there are lots of info monitors and the set up of the station is well organized.
Classic Thai carriage with food sellers doing their rounds!
After such a modern railway station the train to Nong Khai was rather disappointing, one of the older ones which still functions but that’s about it.
We got on board, found our seats, sat down and from 08.45 onwards had long rambling discussions about work, family, and more…
Ready to take off!
(*) As usual in Laos, some spelling variations: Oudomxai / Oudomxay / Muang Xay
UPDATE: Twitter member MA BO informed me that Oudomxay is the province. Muang Xai is the town/district station below the province administration. I checked and indeed, the tickets mention Muang Xai!
Here's the full routing: