On our way down from Northern Thailand we decided to make a stop to visit Phrae, a village with an interesting description on our guidebook. The closest train station was in Den Chai, about 25km away and we were the only foreigners to get off the train. As indicated in the guidebook there was a pickup van for taking people to Phrae (a kind of shared-taxi).
In Phrae we were left at the bus station. We found a hotel, good price – 6euros for a double room including breakfast -, but rather basic. The corridors and room seemed like the Siberian hotels we experienced: large, no decoration, old and with lots of bad quality fixes. The same hotel in Russia would have cost between 30 and 60euros and maybe have shared shower!
(In the hotel grounds there was also a small museum about the Thai Resistance against the Japanese, which were invading the region. Thailand wanted to be neutral in the war but at some point they decided to declare war against the US, but fortunately (for them) the ambassador of Thailand in the US refused to deliver the war declaration, as he belonged to the Thai Resistance. Some complicated history and very lucky for the country.)
Visiting Phrae we tried to get some information and coffee from a cafe announced in the guidebook, but it was closed. An old American by bicycle just told that maybe the owner is not there today. Next we try to find a restaurant to eat. Either not existing or closed, the ones indicated in our 3-months old guidebook. It really started to feel like Russia. In the afternoon we went to visit a house-museum. While walking much more than expected (the scale of the map in the guidebook was wrong), we found the house with a possible restaurant outside, some people cleaning but no one interested on us. The house museum was closed, even if at the gate was written “open daily from 9-17”. Definitely this was Russia like. For dinner we just went to a street market and said we wanted the same as next table. Too spicy and strange for us, we end up buying things in 7-eleven.
Next morning we went back to Phrae bus station and ask how to get to DenChai train station. They pointed us to a bus about to leave. The price was on the braket indicated in the guide book. We hop on. It was full of Thais. The bus was fully Thai style: lots of paintings in the exterior and inside you enter the bus and there is a second door and only then the seats. From the seat you cannot see the road in front of you. Many Thais get sickness and this does not help at all.
The bus drop us off at DenChai bus station. We said we wanted the train station. They say to take a motorbike. From the motorbike they ask us more than would cost to come by shared-taxi all the way from Phrae. We refuse. We try to convince the bus – still there – to take us to the train station. No one speaks much English, our Thai is nonexistent. We try to hitchhike while walk in the direction we suppose the train station was. One motorbike follow us trying to lower the price. We refuse. After some minutes he comes back with the price even lower. Eva does not believe that the driver can take us plus the two backpacks in his motorbike. We accept. He puts Eva’s backpack in front of him, Eva seats in the middle and I in the back, which my backpack on. We insist to wear helmets. The train station was not in the direction we were going.