Marooned in Hualamphong railway station Bangkok
Chiangmai so-called express arrives at 9am. I awake to sunrise over the flooded paddies of Ayutthya.
Train struggles into BKK through shanty towns, construction, into the sinuous mess of modern BKK, the underbelly clinging to its arteries.
I can’t get anywhere easily quickly or conveniently and find myself people watching over congee, the trains shedding themselves of locals pushing scooters or carrying sacks of food.
In the concourse I am caught between tannoy of adverts, station announcements and Thai MTV…I’ve described the type of video before…….
A monk-only cordoned off couple of rows of seats. All seats facing a classically framed painting of the king. A row of Muslim girls black head scarves. A young boy in blue shorts playing with his young pink dressed sister, chasing in and out of a diorama. Like me there are hundreds sitting around waiting waiting.
I’m waiting to get across the city to get a train to the west, but the rain outside is torrential. It’s dripping through the concourse roof, a blue smocked mopping woman diffuses the pooled water rather than soaking it up.
I leave 2 hours to get to Thonburi station to catch a train to Kanchanaburi. Underground then sky-train then Chao Phraya river express. Rusty lurching overloaded diesel workhorse plying its way through the coffee coloured swell and tangles of thick green duck weed. Past temples, processions of cement barges, decommissioned WW2 motor boats, under sweeping bridges and the partially constructed new extension for the sky-train. Rain pouring down, splattering the choppy river. Rain and splashing bow waves sprays passengers. The whistling pilot at the rear of the boat is drenched head to foot.
I know I’m scheduled to get off at stop number 11, which doesn’t exist. At stop 12 I ask the pilot for Thonburi and he waves his arm meaning further on. 20 minutes or more and further on we reach the end of the line, where the high rise hotels have given out to cement works and low suburb urban houses. The duckweed almost unnavigablly dense. Nonthaburi. The pilot says Thonburi. I’ve missed my stop and a girl kindly helps me establish that stop 11 is no longer in use and anyway, by the time I get back down river my train will have left.
I’m resigned to a day or more in BKK. This place traps you, sucks you in. You have to fight to get out.
I check into the Rambuttri Village Inn. The room is high up, has a view of the fort and the suspension bridge. It’s warm, dry, comfortable. I decide to count my blessings.the rain carries on, and persists into early evening. Would being elsewhere, especially in the outdoors be any better I’d I’m wet all the time? Anyway I don’t have great desire to do anything.
Khaosan Road is boring.
I heard it in CM sung in Thai, now hear it here in BKK played by children on dulcimer type instruments: Hotel bloody California…..
The massage chairs are here as well. I feel sorry for the masseurs. Farang customers are drinking beer and texting whilst being massaged. Doesnt look like a special or relaxing moment to them.
My dinner at the same old place is underwhelming, and my request for spicy goes unneeded. A hectic criss-crossing of waiters, barmen, owners. A rerun of Newcastle 4 Arsenal 4.
Early bed, deep sleep.
Breakfast at 12. Punctuated by roving lighter and crocodile wallet sellers.
Legless harmonica player, propelling himself by his hands between the chairs of the cafe on a skateboard like platform. What a tough life.