First Class from Bangkok to Suratthani
I've always caught the bus / boat deal down to Koh Phangan. I've done fan sleeper before and its bearable, if easy to forget where your bed is if you get too drunk. Since it was Boxing Day we bought first class train tickets south from Bangkok to Suratthani.
The tickets cost about 1,300 THB. The lower bunk is slightly more expensive than the top. You get a table, a sink, complimentary water, a plug socket, a window and of course your own double compartment. As with all trains the suited attendants go down the train early evening and make all the beds. This is quite a long process.
First class train carriages have very thin walkways. A person with bags is not easily passed by someone coming from the opposite direction. The decor is pink curtains, off white walls and definitely no Orient Express touches. You do get access to a toilet that is never busy and with running water. Many of the sinks in the other toilets on the train don't produce water.
To get from first class down to the restaurant carriage you have to traverse through all the other sleeper carriages. In the restaurant carriage the atmosphere is jovial. The music videos are turned up loud; people are drinking large Changs and Singhas and smoking away quite contently. The Thai waiters sing along to the Thai music and the train guard comes in for a smoke. We sat next to open windows feeling the benefits of fast air circulation and shouted above the din. 4 large Singhas came to 520 THB.
Then of course I left my bag at the carriage and only realized half way back. Dodging through the tightly packed beds, I retrieved it in time and got to my superior cupboard with venomously strong air-con. We put on extra T-shirts and went to sleep.
It is no point setting an alarm clock when on a sleeper because it is very uncertain when you arrive. They say 4am; it could be 6am. The carriage guard woke us up just as the train was pulling in giving us very little time to dress and take a leak and bolt off the train. Very much first class with Thai characteristics, but still good value in more ways than one.