“…full cost of air transportation for the California Corridor [USA, is] ($0.1315 per passenger-kilometer traveled (pkt)… High speed rail and highway transportation have approximately the same full cost; rail costs $0.2350/pkt and highway costs $0.2302/pkt. However, the modes have a different distribution of internal and external costs, automobiles have the highest external costs while high speed rail has the highest internal costs.”
(D. Levinson, A. Kanafani, and D. Gillen. 1998)
While there a lot of considerations needed to really determine if it is better to have cars and highways, or trains and railroads, I prefer a train, and even listening to songs by a band called Train, being with my train of thoughts while training myself to see the best in people and in life. Yes, it is good to train. 😉
Upon arriving in Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok en route to Chiang Mai, I did all my commute through train. It cost me 35 baht to Makkasan, then walked a little bit to Petchaburi station for the train to Hua Lampong Station (30 baht), and a bit more walk to the same named train station, also known as the Bangkok Railway Station.
The train departed for Chiang Mai at 13:45, for a 14 hour journey. Yes! Thoughts of sitting on a train, no air conditioning (although you can opt for one), a 391 baht fare, and just plain bliss.
And so I prepared myself for what I’m about to live. Sights that would follow rolling along plains and mountains, of villages I have never seen before, of colors and textures that would cure sore and inquisitive eyes. Anticipating smells that would tingle my nose-of diesel, dust, sweat, and countryside air. Of sounds and melodies that would whisper to my ear. Of the train track going chug-chug, and loud, alert train sirens. Birds singing along the way and recognizing people conversing in unknown tongues. The breeze and the wind, caressing my skin, as if to say welcome my brother, my son, my friend. The feeling of dust and sweat hugging the skin. And then taste the air, sensory buds accustoming itself to different and new experiences.
Yes indeed, these anticipated feelings eventually came true, and again, I felt happy to be alive, to think and to participate in this journey called life. Of seeing the temples and monkeys at Lop Buri. Of giant Buddha statues along mountain sides. Of Ayothaya, and images of a Japanese samurai and Muay Thai practitioners side by side at a time long long gone. And although night came, and I had to sleep, I’d imagine myself drifting and conversing with these images, these memories and these lives. With a jacket as a good companion for warding of the cold in the open air train, I finally arrived around 4 o’clock in the morning. I have nothing to say except smile and say, “Thank you for the train ride, and hello Chiang Mai.”