I arrived in Bangkok early morning after a protracted sixteen-hour journey from Chiang Mai. To kill time, I visited Chulalongkorn University, a short distance away from Bangkok Railway Station.
✪ Note: this is the second part of a three-part essay. Part one can be read here.
While there, I found the cutest 7-Eleven I had ever seen. It was very small, only two people can cram inside at a time though they might not be able to turn around. I had to wait in line outside and tell the staff what I wanted to buy — a bottle of water.
Then, I went to the railway station to get ready to go to the south of Thailand. The train was late for an hour and very crowded. This leg of the journey would take at least eight hours. I decided to go to the canteen.
It was a warm, clattering, diesel-smoke-filled car but at least I could find a seat. Most people lounged with cold drinks. I bought food from local vendors who hopped aboard when the train stopped. It was very cheap, only ten to twenty baht, and tasted good as well.
I enjoyed chatting with strangers: just short conversations, about where they were from, where they were going and what their hometowns were like. I mostly talked to kids and teenagers. They were friendly, always smiling, which made me comfortable.
The train was super slow. The time it took made it easier for people to talk to each other. In the big city, usually, people aren’t relaxed. They need to focus on many things. It’s not good or bad. It’s just the situation that makes it what it is.
An hour before we arrive at Chumphon, a worker told me that the canteen was going to be closed. I stood around the train, chatting with strangers that now become friends, my face covered in grease from the diesel smoke, feeling contented none-the-less.