Saturday, 10 March 2012

Bangkok Station 7th March 2012

Bangkok Hualamphong...

Hua Lam Phong is Bangkok's city station where trains to most parts of Thailand are found, especially heading South towards Pattaya, or Butterworth. Best way to ensure an official ticket and price is to enquire directly at the station. Ticket agents are only too happy to book a seat and Inflate the price to unsuspecting tourists. Best way of getting there from Khoa San without paying for a taxi and minimise walking, is to get the express boat to Marine pier and according to the map Hua Lam Phong is just a short walk North.

The Thammasat canteen is closed today, looks like a spring cleaning day. The library is closed too. No matter, I'm sure to find sustenance at the station. It's quiet around here, just me getting off at Marine Pier. A sign says this way to China town, and it's in the right direction so heading towards there looking out for any indication of a train station.  Not really much to say that this is China town other than a few hanging lanterns and Chinese writing here and there. No densely packed streets full of restaurants, or even people, very quiet. Sandbags still piled up along side streets almost ready for the next time. I would actually rename this place 'Grease Monkeys Town' given the plethora of shops and premises overflowing with old engine bits and pieces. Pavements are greased and cluttered with machinery and tools associated with taking engines apart and putting them together again. Perhaps China town is further on, but for now I need to cut through to the station. A large bejewelled temple on the left, large enough to have tourists wandering around and climbing the tower. Good for a snap but right now I must get to the station.

A grand white building and from an architectural perspective pleasing to look at. Ornate pillars edged with gold, walls adorned with giant posters of the King accentuates the grandeur, almost palatial look to this building. Inside, the functions of a railway station. Cool, bright and aired,  a rather big hall serves as a waiting room, with reserved seating for monks. Its packed out with mostly locals glued to the information signs. A long line of ticket counters, about 19, means no queueing and an official is wandering around giving seemingly confused tourists vital information on train travel in Thailand. I have the details I need for my train trip to Butterworth , Maylasia.  A host of food outlets and shops populate the edge, upper tier and the pathways just by the entrance, and talking of food, I need some. A stand selling a mixture of porridge and semolina, mixed with pork and a few fragrant vegetables. I saw plenty of this in Vietnam, but wasn't really enthused with it then, but I'll try some now. Well, all I can say is don't eat this if there is a choice on offer - edible, just!

There is a small exhibition here documenting how people coped with the extensive flooding across the city late last year. Postersize photos of crowds fleeing areas, traffic jams and water filled streets all depicting the chaotic scenes and suffering endured by the cities inhabitants. Moving images of children in distress being carried away, and Improvisation was the key to survival for some as the display shows how a wheelie bin was turned into a canoe, and various household items were used to construct a raft. So, what i expected to be a relatively boring afternoon at the railway station has actually turned into an interesting few hours.

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