Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Bit Like a Roller Coaster

We decided it was time to get out of Bangkok and explore the country side a little bit.  The fishing village of Mea Klong is known (barely) for its fresh food market and authentic Thai lifestyle that remains mostly untainted by tourism.  It’s just 1.5 hours from Bangkok by car, but what’s the fun in driving when you can get there even slower? 

We left home at 7:15 AM a few Saturdays ago and walked to the subway which we rode two stops to the connection with the elevated train.  Next we took the elevated train to the end of the line before setting off on foot in search of the Wongwian Yai railway station (15 minute walk).  This obscure railway station serves as the end of a commuter railway that does not connect to the rest of the Thai railway system. 

Wongwian Yai Railway Station

The train schedule is offered only in Thai, which appeared to deter most foreigners.  It's been a while since we've felt like everyone was starting at us.  I knew we wanted to ride to the end of the line and the ticket agent spoke just enough English to arrange this.  The rail line ends in Mahachai, a fishing village outside Bangkok.

Mahachai Railway Station

From Mahachai you can take a ferry across a river where if you look hard enough you can find an even more isolated section of railway that will take you to Mea Klong.

I sure hope this is the boat we’re supposed to get on…

Mary questioned if I really knew where I was going when I led her down a dirt path past an ornery rooster, but the GPS was spot on.

Our Station

This section of railway is really something else.  It’s served by a short train that makes 4 round trips per day.  Track maintenance on the line is poor if it exists at all.  The manufactured date on the rail was 1912.  It's like a roller coaster (except you know there are not the same safety features), and there was a mile long section of track covered by flood water in the jungle.  We even saw monkeys from the train.  The best part of the trip was the fresh produce and fish market that the rail line ends in.  The pictures below show this better than words can describe.

We are on a train here, not a boat.  View out the back of the train.

The conductor kindly let me up front to see the train engineer’s view coming into the Mea Klong market

Who doesn’t like a little train dirt on their fish?
Yes, we were actually there.

That’s about how much room a train needs, give or take an inch.
Leaving town, the market is reassembled behind the train.  This is done for all 8 trains each day.

Map of our journey.

We were home by 7:30 PM, tired and dirty from a day on the open air trains.  Absolutely one of the coolest things we've done here.

1 comment:

  1. Great to hear from Greg on here! :) I loved the comment about "give or take an inch." I could hear your voice, boy!