Children of Laos, Burma & Thailand

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Thailand and Laos (and Myanmar if I can manage it)

Hello, Sawatdee kaa and Sabai dee,

My next trip will be Thailand and Laos, and this is all about the before, the trip and the after - similar to my Malaysia/Cambodia blog. I am putting together from start to finish - tickets, do's and don'ts, tours, where to stay, places to see, things to do, as well as useful extras like transport, good places to eat, what to wear, climate, tourist traps, tricks and tips and whatever else I can think of that will be useful.

If you have any tips or advice, please, feel free to leave a comment and add your bit - whatever you think may be helpful or interesting.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

61. Hua Lumphong Station

Above: My tuk-tuk driver
I just realised I should've put this photo in my previous post - he was my tuk-tuk driver in Kanchanaburi on the morning of my last day, but .... ah well, he's here now and so here he'll stay!

The road back to Bangkok
After being driven back to my guesthouse, I waited around a bit near reception for the driver of the mini-bus that was to take me back to Bangkok. For some reason, I didn't take a photo on that journey. I'm not sure why, but I do remember we stopped along the way while the driver filled the tank up with petrol, and we had a bit of time (not much) to go to the loo, grab a coffee, have a smoke or get a bite to eat.
Only I spoke with the driver, apart from three Thai passengers (the driver was Thai) and I remember thinking why don't any of the other passengers (read farfangs) speak with him too. They were a miserable lot - I've seen more life in a corpse compared to that lot of passengers!

Hua Lamphong Station
The driver dropped me off in Bangkok and said I'd need to get a taxi to the station as he didn't go there. Caught a taxi - 65 baht - and arrived at Hua Lamphong Station. It was pretty hot but not unpleasant. Spent the time taking photos and learning my way around the station.

Left Luggage
After asking a few people, I found the place where you can store your luggage - as you go through the entrance, turn right, walk along and it's right down the end. There's a staffed luggage office which is open from around 4am until 11pm daily. Price was 100 baht for the suitcase and 50 baht for the small hold-all. You get given a ticket with a number - hang on to your ticket, you won't be able to collect your luggage without it.

Above: Hua Lumphong Station
The concourse inside Bangkok Hua Lamphong Station is massive and when I say massive, I mean m.a.s.s.i.v.e - it's huuuuge. So many people, here, there and everywhere. People sitting on seats, people in groups, people talking, laughing, waiting. There was so much life and movement here.

Above: Wall murals
Up high on the walls above the sides are these fantastic murals - a kaleidoscope of colours and pictures. Some very talented artists indeed. And so beautifully executed. A mish-mash, a meandering mixture of marvellous, melodramatic images.

Above: King Rama V
The King's picture hangs above the entrance to the platforms and every day at 8.00am and 6.00pm, the national anthem is played and everyone stands to attention. I knew of this before I went to Thailand and so I, too, stood still at 6pm.

A bit of trivia
King Rama V (reigned 1868-1910) - layed the foundation of the modern Thai state, and is known as the father of Thai railways because he expanded the rail network nationwide.

Above: Leafy garden and greenery
There are plants and lots of greenery near each of the platforms - what a brilliant idea. They look quite charming amid the modern steel of technology and give the place a relaxing air.

Above: Platform 9¾
As soon as I stood here, I felt the urge to walk up to a railway staffer and ask (in an English accent), "Excuse me, can you tell me where Platform 9 and 3 quarters is please?" !
Yes, I saw Harry Potter and that scene always sticks in my memory when he asks that same question and the railway porter answers, "Platform 9 and 3 quarters? Think you're being funny do yer?"

Above: Pink Taxis
I bought Chinese noodles for 25 baht - noticed the bowl was half full yet Thai people got a full bowl. Met a lady called Carol and we struck up a conversation. It was the accent you see - you can tell an Aussie a mile away. She was from Sydney and we had coffee. I had iced coffee (65 baht) and very welcome it was too.

Outside, there are many taxis in all colours of the rainbow - ever seen a pink taxi? No? Well neither had I until I came to Bangkok. What the blokes would say back home I've no idea, but I get a smile on my face thinking of your true Aussie bloke getting into a pink taxi!

Above: Entrance to Hua Lamphong Station
Finding my way outside and navigating the ever present traffic, I stood across the road and admired the station building. Hua Lamphong Station built in the Italian Neo-Renaissance style, was designed by Italian architect Mario Tamagno and opened on 25th June, 1916.

Hua Lamphong has fourteen platforms, twenty-six ticket windows, two electric display boards. More than 130 trains and over 60,000 passengers use this station each day.

Above: Water fountain
This water fountain stands in front of the station and I'm sure it's most impressive when the water is going at full blast.

Above: Traffic Jam
If you thought Melbourne or Sydney had traffic jams - think again. Bangkok is filled with vehicle of all descriptions and the roads were packed.

Above: Staghorn Fern
Many of the trees have ferns growing on them which makes for a pleasing picture.

Above: Weird Hairdos
On my way back to the station, I noticed these hair styles.

Above: Goody Num-Nums
There are many food shops at the station - this is one of them. Don't they look scrumdiddlyumptios? I put on half a kilo just looking at them!

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