Off the beaten (railway) track and a 'holy' rock
According to Wikipedia Khiri Rat Nikhom railway station opened in April 1956 and is on the Southern Line section from Surat Thani’s Ban Thung Pho Junction.
The railway line was originally planned to reach Tanun (North of Phuket), however afterwards the plans got dumped.
Tim had told me once about this station and at first I didn’t believe him as I thought the southern line after Surat Thani only continued to Trang / Had Yai and beyond.
A quick Google search revealed my ignorance…
Being a irrepressible train addict he always wanted to ride that line so it made sense to add this on the way back from Trang to Surat Thani.
Unfortunately this particular commuter train operates only twice a day at awkward (at least for us) times: departure from Surat in the late afternoon at 16.55 (and our Trang train would arrive in Surat later) and back from Khiri Rat Nikhom the next day, departing at 06.00.
The overnight in Queen Hotel (see my earlier post) brought a possible solution, instead of taking the train both ways (and having hardly any time in the place itself) we decided to grab a bus or minivan the next morning instead.
That way we’d have most of the day in Khiri Rat Nikhom despite having no clue whether there would be anything to do at all…
Next morning after breakfast we walked around the station a bit and asked around.
Within no time we were advised to go to a nearby minivan counter where tickets to Khiri Rat Nikhom were sold.
At first we had some serious doubts as the guys there didn’t exactly look confidence inspiring, but bought tickets anyway and soon afterwards spotted some decent minivans bearing Khiri Rat Nikhom signage.
We waited near a (very) rusted signpost for awhile, boarded a minivan and half an hour we got off in Khiri Rat Nikhom town, miracles still exist occasionally.
As we didn’t carry much luggage we first checked out the railway station which was done in no time at all, very basic indeed.
Next we walked around town and had to ask a few times before finding some acco to stay: a so-called ‘hong pak’ (kind of hotel) which suspiciously looked like a short-time place but turned out to be surprisingly decent.
A quick shower later we started walking towards the riverside, through a rubber plantation, a temple, etc., nothing really to scream about but not bad either.
Half way we noticed a few signs showing something called Hin Pad which looked a lot like a holy rock.
After lunch and a few refreshing drinks we asked a local lady if there was any public transport heading towards this rock, but none was available.
However she and her friend were quite happy to offer to drive us there, very friendly indeed!
In less than an hour we arrived at an entrance of a park...?
Not really as there was no ticket sale, only a change of vehicle and we continued for a short ride uphill with a 4W drive.
A 5 min walk later we finally arrived at Hin Pad and were quite blown away!
The rock itself wasn’t that huge but the views from it across the countryside were stunning!
Surprisingly enough there isn’t much (English!) info about Hin Pad to be found on the Net except for an almost surreal description here:
Our ladies brought us back to our ‘hong pak’ where we took a break before heading out for dinner which turned out be a piece of cake; excellent som tam, pak bung and more!
We decided not to make it too late as the next morning we had to catch that one and only 6 o’clock train which really was the main purpose of our trip here.
The night went by uneventful and around 5 we checked out, leaving our keys on a table as there was no staff around…
Once at the station it was (kind of) interesting to hear the station master going through the motions of getting ready for the day while coughing his lungs out…
His must really be the easiest job in the world, selling some tickets before 6 AM and afterwards going back to sleep…
Tim bought tickets, however his attempts to get tickets all the way to Bangkok were stubbornly refused, that we had to do at Surat Thani...
Slowly but steadily passengers started arriving, mainly students, and finally the train took off (on time!).
It was a classic 3rd class train, wooden benches, open windows and most of the passengers were either asleep or absorbed with their mobile phones.
The few stops along the way did’t have any stations worth speaking off, most not even platforms, but more students got on board…
One hour later we were back at Surat Thani Railway Station, mission accomplished!