Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A RIDE WITH THE GHOST TRAIN - BANGKOK THAILAND

Map of the new purple line
The idea felt great, to take the new purple line train back to Bangkok, after a visit to Nonthaburi! The train was also a great experience, but I had no idea that after a long ride on the new line, it would just stop, spit me out at Tao Poon Station, 16 stops later and make me take a free bus to get to the subway station of Bang Sue, which finally brought me back to Bangkok. 

Despite that missing link, it is great to see how much work is done to ease the traffic congestion in Bangkok. Once the short gap is filled, I am sure it will be a great way to get in and out of the city. Surprisingly my BTS card did not work for this section and I had to pay an extra 40something Baht. I hope that they will also "bridge" that gap and make it all part of one system and one payment system. 

Besides that, it's a really nice train. HUGE train stations with even HUGER park&ride buildings. My ride was back at the end of November, so with the prime ministers announcement that he will fix the problem, I am hopeful that I will soon be able to take the train from Khlong Bang Phai station in Nonthaburi all the way to the subway station Bang Sue and from there the subway to the city. Fingers crossed!  For a tourist, like me, it's a cheap and quick way out to the suburbs of Bangkok, with great views from the train.


Two other passengers besides me

Park & ride buildings



A whole train for myself!!!




Several stations later, still only two passengers

Getting closer to Bangkok


Clear labeling so you won't get lost

After 16 stops arriving in Tao Poon station

A bit confusing to find your way to the bus

Finally a bus sign!

The free shuttle to the subway in Bang Sue

Luckily no traffic and an empty bus

Bang Sue Subway station

Bang Sue Subway station

Map of the subway stops


Saturday, December 24, 2016

BANGKOK IN BLACK AND WHITE - THAILAND

It was time to go back to Bangkok again! Sadly on October 13th 2016, H.M. the late King Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej had passed away and two weeks later I arrived in Bangkok. I knew that it would be a difficult time, specially since I have many Thai friends and wanted to be as prepared as possible. Packing black cloths only was the least I could do. Even on the plane I was dressed in black. Since I did not have any black cloths at all, I had to buy everything new. 

My first view of Bangkok in the early morning.
I arrived late at night and woke up during the early morning hours to this view, which set the tone for the next three and a half weeks. 

I walked to the subway and saw only people dressed in black. There was no advertising on the trains. Even all the printed or digital ads seen at the escalators of the subway stations where blackened out. Everyone on the trains was dressed in black and there was not a single sound to be heard, except for the announcement of the next station. People walked out of the train and through the ticket machines and all you could hear from hundreds of people in the line was the monotone "beep"...."beep"..."beep" of the machine.

The first day in Bangkok basically set the tone for the the whole time I was there. Even when the official 30 days of mourning passed on the 14th November, it did not change. 

The only people I saw in other colours where tourists, some had a black ribbon on their shirts, but a few were dressed in their bright green or orange t-shirts and shorts and they really looked out of place. 

In the shopping malls even the models in the windows were dressed in black. At a first view, there were no other cloths on sale, than black, gray or white. 

Black and white flags on the streets.
Despite being able to do all my usual temple visits, boat rides, lunches and dinners, it felt like the longest funeral I had ever attended. And it was not even a funeral. It was really difficult to see people on the train starting to cry. I also went to a few photo exhibitions in honor of the late King and went to the Grand Palace where mourners from all over the country stood in line for hours and hours to pay respect to the Royal Urn. That was the hardest day of them all for me. 

Many of my non-Thai friends back home felt that it was "a bit overdone", "overreacting", but it just felt right being there and one Thai woman said it with the best words possible in this situation "Let us just mourn!"  

For me, Thailand will never be the same again. After the three and a half weeks, I left with a feeling that the "Land of Smiles" is no more. 



Shopping malls paying respect to the late King

Mostly people dressed in black

Condolence books in all malls

The Thai No. 9, for King Rama IX

Scenes from the late King's life displayed on the streets

Bangkok's second largest building with a black ribbon

Condolence messages



Foreign tourists not behaving properly