Getting anywhere at the moment seems to take either energy (I was a bright lobster faced sweating behemoth earlier this week getting
lost to the hostel in George Town), or money (£20 for a 2omin ride to the ferry in Samui, or £5 and 90mins the other way – neither a win) or just a darn sight more complicated than it needs to be. The journey from Don Mueng airport was the latter, and somewhat more ‘interesting’ (British useage here)because despite every travel site saying there was a train to Hua Lamphong there were categorically no signs to the station at the airport or on their website, choice was bus or taxi, and even then it was Harry Half-a-journey on the bus. So bus it was- to Morchit / Chatachuk then up and over the road and onto the metro – which amazingly I did without getting lost, then onto the MRT along with the shopping hordes who’d been at Chatachuk. Standing up with a massive rucksack on felt easier than trying to take it off and then haul it back on later. The train was full of people who’d wisely spent their Sunday at the market grabbing bargains and not travelling for a stupid number of hours carrying an inordinate number of heavy items by various forms of transport to get from one place to another. Luckily the extra bulk of enabled me to shuck a couple of grannies out the way to bag a seat for part of the journey. Out of the metro, and left and ‘ta da’ there was the hostel ‘@Hua Lamphong’, super stuff. Not lost once – what was going on?
Being in Hua Lamphong meant I was right next to the station for my journey the next day, and also handily right next to China Town, which I hadn’t been to before on other trips to Bangkok. It doesn’t have any public transport other than buses running to it, and Hua Lamphong is therefore the closest stop for us tourists who’ve not got the nerve to try and navigate a bus journey round a city as chaotic as Bangkok.
Wandering down the streets, most places were shut as families were celebrating New Year, everyone, bar stallholders it seemed, were majoring it down at the temples.
It was incense central, smells and smoke wafting into the dusk. As soon as the incense was placed into a holder it was being removed and added to a burning heap. Money was being handed over left and right, whether it was for candles, offerings, or incense. People were dressed in lucky red, where possible and you couldn’t move for the roosters.
After an interesting meal near the temple, where you had to write down what you wanted from the menu, and give that to someone who didn’t read or speak English, and then try and marry up what you received with what you ordered, or not, in my case – veggies were missing (and I was missing my veggies after my nightly dose of morning glory and pork in Koh Samui – no sniggering at the back there, please!) I wandered back to collect my train tickets from the agent, and stopped off to look at a small temple on the main road. The candles were like giant crayola and set out on the main street next to oil burners and they were they were giving off fierce heat, enough to make your nose hairs burns (but not your beard hairs, not mine anyway). The outside of the temple was decorated with 3-d images and stories but I couldn’t get close enough due to the crush of small elderly people and the heat coming off the crayolas to get many pictures.
I wandered back down there the next day as well, to get provisions for the train, and retracing some of my steps (the possibility of getting lost was still high) and seeing all the stalls now set up, taking up most of the street, so pedestrians were forced to edge along – heaven help you if you got stuck behind an old man with a stick and a stoop. The people behind would bore holes into your shoulders in an attempt to vaporise you and the aged person to get you out the way. No aged were hurt in the process – when a break in the road came up we all whizzed round him, like mopeds at a stop sign.
Having sorted everything out I was all set for the train journey and even though it was probable (e.g. a dead cert) that the train would be late leaving I still got myself there with 40mins to spare and settled down in seat number 15 to see who turned up as neighbours.