I don’t remember when I last took a night train to Chiang Mai. It could quite possibly have been as far back as 1998 when Charlotte and I spent a week of our month-long honeymoon trekking the mountains somewhere north of Chiang Mai and south of Chiang Rai, sharing meals and sleeping over at several distinctly different hillside hosts, including the Akha, Lahu, Karen, and Hmong tribes. It was a similar adventure to one I’d had ten years earlier (1988) with an old friend (Magnus Ekström), and absolutely worth re-experiencing.
Of all the ways of traveling from point A to point B, trains easily top my list. I really love trains and have taken them across southwest USA, all over Europe, a bit of India, sped across a stretch of Japan on the Shinkansen and ridden both up and down the Malay Peninsula between Bangkok and Singapore.
Trains are of course slow, but offer a far superior social and visual experience when compared with planes. Not to mention how incomparably more pleasurable train stations are to airports.
Back in the late 1980s, I took a night train from Göteborg to Riksgränsen (Swedish Lapland) a few times and remember how wonderful it was to first be served a decent meal in the dining car and then enjoy a film in the adjacent movie car (where they even served freshly nuked popcorn!).
Last night’s dinner (above) won’t take up much space in the constantly expanding archive of most memorable meals, but it was tasty, albeit pricey, nonetheless. All vegetarian and freshly made in the train’s restaurant/kitchen car.
Significantly more striking was instead how upgraded the 2nd Class sleeper train cars were. While the sleeping comfort wasn’t improved much, there was a huge difference in how new and modern-looking the interior was – including the onboard toilets – from what I remember riding in more than two decades ago. Which might not be so surprising, unless when thinking of how sadly archaic and fatigued most Swedish trains still are today. Swedish trains are, when not delayed, considerably faster, though. On the other hand, I really enjoyed watching the landscape slide by in slow motion as we made our way through thick forest on the way up north.