Monday, November 19, 2012

Overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai: A bumpy ride

We were ready to get out of Bangkok and very much looking forward to moving on to Chiang Mai. I was also very excited for the train. It just seemed like a great part of any traveling adventure: the gentle humming of the terrain gliding along the tracks, everyone sleeping in their little cabins. It could have been that good, it was almost that good, but, in the end, it just wasn't .

Simon woke up that morning with diarrhea. I was hoping that it was related to an enema we and given him the night before as he hadn't pooped in 3 days. It continued throughout the day, so we loaded up on diapers and wipes before the long (approximately 14 hour) train ride.

We got to the train station, ate dinner (except Simon who hadn't eaten all day), and found our seats on the train. We had seats in the second class sleeper train. The seats convert into beds and the top bunks fold down. The bottom bunks are more spacious, so I had booked 2 across from each other (Simon is under 100 cm so he doesn't need a seat). As Martin grabbed to stroller, I heard an "Oh no." I figure that something on the stroller had broken. But when he walked in to our seats, he looked at me and said those dreaded two words,"My back."

It is hard to describe how I felt at that moment. Surprised? No, not really. You see, earlier this summer we took a vacation to Minnesota, and his back went out. Before that, we had a long weekend in France without Simon, and his back or neck went out. Since moving to Germany, Martin has struggled to make exercise a part of his routine (I'm one to talk!), and he has had quite a few back episodes in the last few years. So I hate to be the nagging wife that says, "I told you so." So I won't...

So now I was officially on Simon duty, diarrhea and all, I was getting no help. Simon was clearly not feeling well, so he was just snuggled up to me the whole time, not too difficult. Eventually they came around to turn our seats into beds, and Simon curled up in my bunk and fell asleep. Not a bad start.

Around midnight I was lying in the bunk with Simon trying to fall asleep, when he started coughing and then threw up on the bed. The whole car was asleep and I was trying to wake up Martin while holding a plastic bag (a leaky plastic bag we later found out) in front of Simon. Martin was able to help out and get us some new sheets, and fish out some more plastic bags (double bagged this time).

The night continued like that for Simon and I. He would start coughing a little, I would get the bag, it was our routine. Since hadn't eaten there really wasn't much coming out anyway. I didn't sleep much, and Simon didn't sleep well, but we finally made it to Chiang Mai! And despite a sick child and invalid husband, I still kind of enjoyed the trip. I hope we take another night train in Thailand, but next time with everyone healthy.

The funny thing is that right before Simon fell asleep, I remember thinking about how good it felt to be on that train. We were leaving Bangkok, we were traveling on the cheap. I guess it reminded me of backpacking in the Americas and I was just excited to be doing it as a family this time. I hadn't really considered the whole vomit aspect.

So now we are in Chiang Mai. Martin is looking forward to many massages while I take care of our unwell child. But that's ok, we have the time.
UPDATE: it's Monday evening (we arrived Sunday morning) and Simon is doing much better! Here's a pic of him shoveling his fried rice into his mouth at dinner tonight! Martin has found a great masseuss and is moving around pretty well, considering.



  1. Only you could be this calm In a situation like this! Poor Simon... Glad everyone is on the mend.

  2. Amelia and I were reading about Simon (she's home today because of a stomach bug ironically) and she saw the last photo of him eating and she spied the toy car beside him and she sang (to the tune of nanny-nanny-boo-boo: "No toys on the table, ha ha ha ha!" :) Glad he's better! Phew.

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