Sunday, 4 March 2012

Bangkok Sky Train March 3 2012

Trains underground, on the ground and in the sky..

What shall i do today? Contemplating the issue over breakfast. Not so hot today thankfully, or perhaps I've just peaked and it really doesn't matter anymore. I have in mind to take a ride on the Sky train from the Saphan taksin station, just a few steps from the Central Pier. The Bangkok Sky Train is an elevated railway serving the city in a North/South direction, and I suppose can be considered as a mass transit system. There is also the conventional surface railway as well as an underground system.

The Central Pier is 20 minutes on the express boat that leaves from near the Thammasat University and getting there is now a well trodden route. Not expecting to see much, if any, activity at the canteen given that it's Saturday. I'm quite surprised to find more people there than ever - a hive of activity as students are engrossed with their studies whilst having their noodles or rice. Rice, pork, a green vegetable, a brown egg and something else I don't know what on my plate. All very tasty though for 35 b, about 80p, with a refreshing breeze for free.

Through the University garden and into the small market that lines the road all the way to the pier - a small market by Asian standards that is. Onto the express boat then and the next 20 minutes at least is some relief from the humidity. Off the boat and it's just a few yards to the steps leading up to the Sky Train. Quite a long way up, to get the ticket and up again to get on the train. The end of the line is also where there is a market, renowned for being the biggest and most interesting in all Bangkok. So for 88p it's off to another market. A panoramic view of the city from up here. A vast area of concrete and glass extending upwards as the train heads north. The train is smart, clean and distinctly cold. Packed with locals mostly, probably all heading to the market.

About 25 minutes to the end of the line and another 10 minutes to exit the station. Since there are so many people here there is something of a traffic jam as everyone slowly shuffles down to ground level. Everyone is cutting through the park, I'll just follow since its in the general direction I need to be anyway. I don't anticipate being here for long, since these markets have lost their appeal, several weeks ago.

This market is unsurprisingly big, extending a long way over the horizon, almost! Hot to, but still quite pleasant out of the sun. Some quite desirable goods here, especially fashion wise. Silk features heavily, along with cotton and other fabrics. Some smart designs but expensive by Southeast Asian standards. Prices are cheaper on the fringes, similar to those in the British Primark stores. Indulgence as I spend £2.20 on a t-shirt. Not much in the way of live chickens, ducks or dead snakes here, actually nothing like that at all!

The train has a stop in Silom, so I'll stop there for a bit. From what I saw yesterday, the place is potted with large shopping complexes which should mean some nice air conditioning. Bangkok also has an underground railway system and shred the station with the Sky Train here. Getting into it though is like being at an airport. Baggage search and body scan machines are required, but once underground then it's into another shopping arcade before descending again to the station. Groups of young people grouped into corners and along walls, taking advantage of the cool, air conditioned space.

Tickets are priced  the same as Sky Train and trains are just as cold. Getting off at the Silom stop for another quick look around here. This time there's more going on, probably being a Saturday helps. Stalls line the Silom road on one side, heading to the river and selling a variety of items. I splurge again, and buy another t-shirt, a bit more expensive but nicely designed. I hadn't spotted these before, but there are signs protruding off buildings clearly indicating that any tourist wandering around here might be entering a Triple X zone!.  Despite this, Silom is a good district for shopping, often coming across smart, unusual fashion designs among other things. Ducking into a plaza every so often to cool down whilst heading back towards the pier. According to a weather website, the temperature is hovering around the 35-36 deg c level.

Back on the express boat, heading for pier 9 as the sun sets , making for some scenic city snaps.

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