South East Asia travel blog

Bangkok Hua Lumphong Rail Station

intersection of two rapid transit line

Jim Thompson House

interior of Jim Thompson House


Today we are heading out of town. Again. Generally in the same direction as last time but with a curl to the north. And this time we're going by rail. Going to Laos.

We had most of the day to spend in Bangkok. We were taking the evening train from Bangkok to Nong Khai on the border of Laos. Because we were refraining from taking in as much tourist stuff as our toes would allow, (the type were you step off from a bus, take a photo to say you been there, then jump back on the bus to hurry to verify your next stop) we could leisurely let the day unfold.

We had a nice breakfast at the outdoor restaurant we had dined at the previous evening. We chatted with a lady from France who was English but married a Frenchman. She was continuing her stay while hubby had to go back home to work. He had already left a week earlier while she went to the south of Thailand. Marion thought that was fine; I held my tongue.

After breakfast we wandered around our street, Rambuttre Soi, for a while before going back to our guesthouse to check out. We also stored a piece of luggage with purchases we had already attained. We weren't going to lug that around for another month. I kept my stylin' pants for showin' in Laos.

To fill in the afternoon we decided to take in the Jim Thompson House. He was an American who after WW2 helped establish the Thai silk industry. He was also a collector of artifacts and antiques of SE Asia. They survive but he disappeared in Malaysia in 1967.

We got there in a convoluted way and it probably might have been cheaper by taxi. But it wouldn't have been as interesting. We took the river ferry to the Central Pier. The exit from the pier leads to one of the rapid transit lines in Bangkok.

The transit lines in Bangkok are elevated. As a person sits in the train car, the highrises seem to float in front of you and then merge into the background. If there is anything that gives the impression of the future better than an elevated rapid transit system, please tell me.

There is no single photo that does justice to the highrise matrix of Bangkok. Sit on Crescent Height Road in Calgary and a single photo almost catches all the highrise buildings in the city. That doesn't happen in Bangkok. Go a few blocks and there is a new tableau of structures to marvel at. When we go back to Bangkok I am going to ride that rapid transit line back and forth for hours looking at the city. Sorry, I digress.

After a false start we managed to find the Jim Thompson House. There were a few tuk tuks telling us that the place was closed because of a Buddha holiday. We told them that Buddha always has holidays and continued on our way.

The gist of this attraction is the architecture of traditional Thai housing. A number of houses had been brought to this location by Jim Thompson and reassembled.

He was an art collector and many of the items he acquired are still housed within the houses. A tour guide led us through the structures and pointed out the items peculiar to Thai House building. Such as everything leaned inwards.

The Thais used wood pegs to fix their structures. To make the pegs work gravity had to be relied on thus the exterior walls leaned inwards at the top. To highlite this form of building, all the doors and windows, were tappered also. The top is narrower than the bottom.

We were not allowed to take photos of the interior of the houses. This shot was taken from the outside.

Being that Jim Thompson extolled Thai Silk, there was a retail outlet on site. Happily they only sold shirts and other wearable items and a few other items. Marion was looking for bolts of silk to buy. That was a close call.

It was late afternoon by the time we had retraced our steps, our rail journey, our ferry ride and more steps back to our guesthouse. We had a bite of eat and then retrieved our luggage out of the lock up. It was time to go to the rail station.

There were a couple taxis already out in the lane and as soon as they saw us they yelled for our attention. We ignored them and went to the main road. Another taxi was sitting at the intersection and we got close to him until he gave his price of a hundred bhat each. We risked our lives dodging traffic to get away from him. On the other side of the road a taxi stopped for us, we got in, he hurried to the station even though there was a general traffic jam afflicting Bangkok that day and got us to the station for only 63 Bhat. He was my friend forever.

The Hua Lumphong Train Station is what I expect from a train station. Lots of people waiting, lots of vendors waiting to serve you, lots of energy being expended in the waiting.

Our train to Nong Khai did not leave until 8pm and we had gotten to the station just after 6:30. We claimed some chairs and indulged in the waiting. It went by quickly and then we were through the gates and onto the platforms being directed to our berths.

And we were on our way out of Bangkok. Except that the train kept stopping for traffic lights. The high speed trains are elevated, not so the long distance trains. They have to take their que in the traffic chaos that is Bangkok.



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