Monday, January 2, 2017

DAYTRIPPING TO NAKHON PATHOM - THAILAND

Hua Lampon Station
In 51 trips to Thailand I had never been to the Hua Lampong Railway station until this time. A professional photographer-friend had shown me his book about the railway stations of Thailand and all the shots he took of the Hua Lampong Station in Bangkok, so I scheduled enough time to see that beautiful station as well. 

Buying my ticket to Nakhon Pathom was an interesting experience as well. There is a counter "Tickets for foreigners" and that ticket they offered me was for 8:05am the next morning but at a cost of 370 Baht in 2nd class. I asked for a later time (and a cheaper ticket) at 9:20am which was 14 Baht only in 3rd class. For a 1 hour and 20 mins trip I felt like I could endure a 3rd class coach. However, that ticket was only to be sold the morning on the departure day and not ahead of time. So, I had to get in line again the next day, which was no problem at all. No line and plenty of seats available. 


Ticket counters
The Hua Lampong railway station was a beautiful building indeed. Over 100 years old and I hope they will not "modernize" it and keep it in the old style. 

The ticket came without seats assigned, so I picked one in the last coach by the window. Shortly after I sat down, some "government officials" blocked off the row behind me as "officials only" section and everyone had to move up!  The windows can be opened and the metal blinds can be lowered for the sun, but soon enough the whole train was dark as Thais like to sit in the shade with nothing to see out the windows. 

The tracks were still the old ones. The new tracks for the southern route are being built now and the first futuristic train stations are already visible. The 3rd class train moved very very slow during the first few stops but picked up speed as we were past Bang Sue Station, when it was actually flying down the tracks in what I considered too fast for the technology used. 


Nakhon Pathom Station
Nakhon Pathom Station is within walking distance to the famous Phra Pathom Chedi, which is said to be the highest pagoda of Thailand (and the world) with 120.45 meters. On the way to the chedi was plenty of local life to enjoy, including a "real" Thai market and not one of those overrated tourist markets like the floating market. Talad Bon and Talad Lang markets spread out to the left and right of the street leading to the pagoda. They are covered markets which offer everything local people need to shop for. Very interesting and not touristy at all. 

60 Baht was the entrance fee for the Phra Pathom Chedi for foreigners. Locals get in for free!  It's been my third visit here, but the first by train. Lots of local worshippers can be seen at the temple, praying and performing their merit making activities. Few tourists were here and mostly with their Thai tour guides, since it requires either a driver or an organized tour to get here, other than the train. 


Phra Pathom Chedi
The chedi itself is an important religious site, which we cover on our old web site www.chimburi.com and the temple blog. Plenty of local food can be chosen from outside the temple and it seems that most Thai visitors come for the food...and a quick prayer :-) 

I had intended to do a round trip by train, but the next train back to Bangkok was not until 17:20 which was far too much time to kill in a 32 degree weather, so I decided to pick one of the many buses which wait just a block from the railway station. Busses go to different locations in Bangkok and in the suburbs, so I picked one which went to the next BTS station. In this case it was "Bang Wa" station, from where the so-called sky train can be taken into the city and across the river.  The bus was 45 Baht and when handing the driver a 50 Baht bill, he said, he "owes me 5 Baht" but I quickly learned that he pulls this one on every passenger who does not hand him the correct amount.  As a little side story - the bus stopped everywhere and took a long time. Plus it started raining really hard before reaching the west side of Bangkok, where we were unloaded into smaller vans which finally dropped us at the BTS station during a major thunderstorm. A bit of an exotic way to get back to Bangkok, but still several hours before the train would have brought me back. 


Hua Lampong Station

Hua Lampong Station

Hua Lampong Station

Hua Lampong Station

Train track for trains to the South

Hua Lampong Station

3rd class coach

The old train tracks going North

New train stations built already to the side


Walking distance to the Chedi

Local scenes in Nakhon Pathom

Local market

Local market

Local market

Local market


Phra Pathom Chedi statues

Phra Pathom Chedi

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