The train cabin that Steve and I relax in is a world entirely different from the one on the other side of our window. We settle down into our plush purple seats and Steve fiddles with the AC, ready for our 5 hour journey from Bangkok to Phetchaburi. Our last minute decision to travel by train meant that Steve and I ended up booking into 1st class, something that made us giggle when we stepped onto the train and were ushered into our private cabin by the attendant.
The world flying by outside our window is dusty, humid and outdated. We race past shack like houses, lined up unevenly and joined by one never ended line of washing. Children stand barefooted waving at our train, completely unaware of the difference between our surroundings and their own. It’s humbling, to say the least.
Phetchaburi is even more humbling and is a direct contrast to the bustling city of Bangkok that we had just arrived from. We walked the 20 minute journey from the station to our hostel and quickly discovered that we were in very much a rural town. My initial thoughts of Phetchaburi was of how quiet it is and how uneasy I felt at first. The unfamiliarity began to subside as soon as I realised the roads are still full of motorcycles just as they were in Bangkok. It was a small sight that felt a little more familiar.
The residents of Phetchaburi share their town with an abundance of monkeys who used to live on the mountain in the middle of the town, but have since discovered there is more food by the roadside. We watched them dance and swing from the cables from one side of the road to another, with more grace than you’d expect.
Monkeys also enjoy hovering around the entrance of Khan Luang Caves, one of Phetchaburi’s tourist attractions, although they seem to stay clear of the caves themselves. The caves are full of Buddha statues, that were once put there by the late King. Whilst climbing up the steep steps out of the caves it struck me how very serene and respectful atmosphere it is, by both tourists and locals alike.
We weren’t afraid to act like tourists in Phetchaburi, seeing as our pale skin colour gave us away as soon as we arrived. We hired vintage bicycles from our hostel and explored the town on those, visiting another tourist attraction along the way. This time we headed up into the mountain of Khao Wang, which houses a selection of temples which you can reach by brick laid track through the tree’s. Signs along the way warned us of monkeys that might pop out to spirit away your belongings but it seems they prefer the life at the bottom of the mountain more than the top. Or at least, they like the food!
It’s safe to say that Steve and I enjoyed Phetchaburi much more than Bangkok and it remains one of our favourite places in Thailand. It’s a nice feeling to mix with the locals and to see how life works in this area of Thailand although we won’t be missing the monkeys; especially after one bared his teeth at Steve after a near miss with his bike!