This is a part of my travelogue on my solo overland backpacking trip to Thailand & Laos in 2013.
Previously: Part 9 – Night Train to Nong Khai
Day 5: Friday, 30 August 2013
I was awake when the train reached Udon Thani. By then, I knew that I was reaching Nong Khai, since Udon Thani is the next big city after Nong Khai at the northeastern region of Thailand. At 5.30 am, the train reached Nong Khai station and everyone on board disembarked since this is the last station for Thailand’s northeastern train line. I looked up and saw the sky. It was beautiful. Experiencing dawn at a foreign land which I set foot for the first time was beautiful.
Aku terjaga bila keretapi sampai Udon Thani. Aku tahu, mesti tak jauh dah dari Nong Khai sebab Udon Thani dengan Nong Khai ni sebelah-menyebelah je. Dalam pukul 5.30 pagi, keretapi sampai Nong Khai. Ni stesen terakhir untuk laluan timur laut keretapi Thailand, jadi semua orang turun kat sini.
My initial plan was to take the train from here to Thanaleng in Laos, crossing the Friendship Bridge. I am a train-travel enthusiast and when I read in Seat61.com that there is an international shuttle train service from Nong Khai to Thanaleng, of course I wanted to try it. So, after cleaning myself at the station’s toilet (which includes a bathroom) and performed my prayers, I waited at the station for the shuttle train to arrive. There is only one shuttle train that will depart everyday at 9.10 am from this station.
Kalau ikut perancangan asal, aku nak naik keretapi dari sini ke Thanaleng kat Laos. Aku kan suka naik keretapi, jadi bila aku baca kat website Seat61.com yang ada international shuttle dari Nong Khai ke Thanaleng, haruslah aku cuba kan. Jadi, lepas bersihkan diri, solat semua, aku tunggu kat stesen Nong Khai untuk keretapi tu sampai. Keretapi shuttle ni akan bertolak hari-hari jam 9.10 pagi.
Whilst waiting, I saw that there were another 2 travellers waiting with me at the station. I asked them the usual questions “Where are you from? Where are you heading to? How long? Bla bla bla”. Turned out, they are 2 Japanese buddies named Hibiki and Yuya, also going to Vientiane and planning to take the shuttle train.
Sementara menunggu, aku nampak ada lagi 2 orang traveller dok tunggu jugak kat stesen ni. Kiranya ada 3 oranglah semuanya. Aku temuramah diorang sikit, cari kawan baru. Diorang ni 2 kawan dari Jepun, nama Hibiki dan Yuya. Plan diorang sama macam aku. Nak ke Vientiane naik shuttle train.
The sun soon rose up and from 7.00 am to 9.00 am, I did nothing but walked around the station area and crossed the road to the eateries nearby. I bought a Halal-certified cracker as breakfast. It was so quiet here around the station. It felt so isolated, as if I was standing at an out-of-the-world train station. Only some tuk-tuk drivers, the man manning the ticket counter, Hibiki, Yuya and me at the area.
Matahari pun makin lama makin terpacak. Dari jam 7.00 pagi sampai 9.00 pagi, aku dok mundar-mandir kat stesen ni, lintas jalan pergi cari kedai makan. Aku jumpa satu keropok bertanda Halal, terus beli buat alas perut. Senyap sunyi je keadaan dalam dan sekeliling stesen ni. Macam terpinggir. Adalah 2-3 orang pakcik-makcik driver tuk-tuk, penjaga tiket, dan kami bertiga-aku, Hibiki danYuya.
Sometimes, to kill boredom, I watched some TV shows which I have downloaded into my netbook. Suddenly, I noticed that the clock at the station was already 9.20 am. No sign of the train to Thanaleng. No sign of any incoming train from wherever. I went to the ticket counter and asked, “Sawadeekap. Train to Thanaleng, when will it arrive?”. The man in white uniform answered, “Thanaleng? Wait-wait”. With that, I continued to wait.
Kadang-kadang, sebab bosan, aku tengok rancangan TV yang aku download dalam netbook. Dok layan siri TV tu, sekali terperasan jam kat stesen ni dah pukul 9.20 pagi. Tak ada pulak tanda-tanda keretapi nak sampai. Aku pun tanya abang penjaga tiket tu, “Sawadeekap. Train to Thanaleng, when will it arrive?”. Dia jawab, “”Thanaleng? Wait-wait”. Aku pun tunggulah lagi.
I ate the whole crackers, I watched several episodes of the TV show, then I saw a guy went to the notice board of the station. Initially, the notice board (which is a white board) stated : To Thanaleng, Arrival: 9.10 am. Then, the guy rubbed the 9.10 am written earlier and changed it to 11.30 am.
Sampai habis keropok tu aku makan, siri TV tu pun berepisod-episod dah aku tengok, sekali nampak seorang lelaki pergi kat papan tanda stesen keretapi tu, yang tulis masa ketibaan keretapi. Elok dan lancar je dia tukar waktu berlepas keretapi dari Nong Khai ke Thanaleng dari pukul 9.10 pagi ke pukul 11.30 pagi. Oh nasib~
I looked at Hibiki. Hibiki looked at Yuya. Yuya looked at me. Basically, the three of us were looking at each other when we saw that. I went to the ticket counter guy and he confirmed the same. It was around 9.45 am and since the three of us were planning to go to the same place, we discussed whether to wait or just to take the tuk-tuk. “Time is money”, Hibiki said. I agreed. But money spent for tuk-tuk and whatever transportation that needed to be taken as an alternative to the train, is also money.
Kami bertiga (aku, Hibiki dan Yuya) pandang antara satu sama lain. Tak puas hati, aku tanya penjaga tiket tu. Memang sahih delay. Masa tu dah pukul 9.45 pagi. Aku pun dah bosan menunggu. Sebab kami bertiga nak pergi tempat yang sama, kami bincang, apa nak buat. Hibiki kata “Masa itu duit / Time is money”, tapi nak tuk-tuk apa bagai nanti pun duit jugak.
Will I take the tuk-tuk or wait for the train?
Aku nak naik tuk-tuk ke nak tunggu je keretapi sampai ni?
To be continued – Part 11
The Nong Khai-Thanaleng international shuttle service will depart Nong Khai station at around 9.10 am and reached Thanaleng at around 9.20 am. Thanaleng is around 13km from Vientiane. There are taxis, buses and tuk-tuks to connect travellers from Thanaleng to Vientiane.
The ticket price for the shuttle train from Nong Khai to Thanaleng vice versa is 20 baht in 3rd class and 30 baht in 2nd class [as of August 2013].
For more info on train travels, check out seat61.com.