About ten years ago, I took a trip with one of my good friends to Southeast Asia. We visited Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia and essentially got around on a shoestring budget. There were a lot of interesting experiences on that trip, too many to share in one blog entry, but I'll share one of them with you now.
My friend and I traveled from Bangkok to Chiang Mai (Thailand's second largest city, located in the north) by train. It was an overnight ride, departing Bangkok's Hua Lamphong train station at 7:20pm, and arriving in Chiang Mai a full twelve (12) hours later at 7:30am. We had second-class tickets in an air-conditioned car, since tickets to the sleeper car were already sold out. Despite the relative luxury of air conditioning, sleep was hard to come by on the hard, uncomfortable seats in the herky-jerky rocking of our coach car.
I remember the final miles of that long train ride as the dim light of dawn began to illuminate the world around our train, looking out the window at the lush verdant foliage of the northern mountains and eventually stepping out into the clear mountain air comparatively cooler than the heavy, humid air of Bangkok.
The price to pay of an uncomfortable night was more than paid off by the lasting memory of something that many do not get to experience. For that I'm very grateful.