Unsure when the train might be due into Bangkok (it had been delayed by 40 minutes when we boarded), we got up and dressed at about 8.30am. A charming but completely incomprehensible stewardess (with a voice like Betty Boop) showed us the menu for breakfast, while the carriage attendant folded down the beds and mopped up the mud that we had brought on board.

Our American breakfasts (2 eggs, 2 tiny bright red sausages – split twice down their length and daintily flayed out like a lily flower – and a garnish of salad), arrived with coffee and sickly-sweet ‘orange juice’. Afterwards we queued, with half a dozen saffron-robed Buddhist monks, for the carriage’s one (very clean) ‘squatter’ toilet.

It was lunchtime by the time we pulled into Bangkok’s Hua Lampong station. We caught a taxi to our hotel, The Royal. After a shower and change, we plugged our computer modem into the telephone line to pick up our e-mail. Unfortunately, the phone system is rather antiquated, and does not allow ‘direct’ calls from guest rooms.

Tired and hungry from our overnight journey, this seemed like the last straw. Brigid insisted that we should check out immediately, and find ourselves a less archaic hotel. However, the sense of humour failure was short-lived, and by the time we had eaten, we decided that our room was otherwise comfortable, and we could do a lot worse! The location seemed particularly good, being near to Thanon Khao San for Internet access, and also within walking distance of the river, the Royal Palace, and the famous Wat Po temple. (Khao San is an otherwise ghastly street, with cheap guesthouses, tacky souvenir shops, rip-off tour operators, and every manner of con artist, preying on western tourists.)