After two nights in Vang Vieng and two more in Vientiane, we continued our trip to the capital of Thailand.
Spend a night on rails
While we used the bus to travel between the towns before, we decided to use the night train this time. First, you will use a so called “tuk-tuk” or a shuttle to get from Vientiane to a small town called Thanaleng, near the border. From there, a small train crosses the Lao-Thai border to Nong Khai and after changing trains, the journey continues to bangkok. It’s a comfortable way to travel between the two capitals and quite affordable as well. We arrived in Bangkok at 7am in the morning and started our first tour soon after. You can read more about our train ride in another post.
A not-so-nice capital with amazing places
Bangkok is one of the largest cities in South East Asia, but may not be the most beautiful one. Of course, there are nice and seeworthy places that I will talk about further below. But in average, its concrete facades and crowded streets are not our favorite. The more boring most of the buildings are, the more you are surprised by the hidden beautys of the city and surrounding areas.
First of all, there is Khlong Bang Luang, a district in the heart of Bangkok. Going from the metropolis to “Thailand’s Venedig” is a must-do for visitors. We used a long-tail boat to cruise through this fantastic part of the city and see temples and old-fashioned houses built over the river.
The river was a major trading route and led us to an art gallery. Enjoying great coffee, watching a traditional Thai puppet show and looking at great pieces of art is really amazing in this atmosphere. Everyone is friendly, even though the country is in deep sorrow because of the king’s recent death.
Another interesting part of Bangkok is the flower market we visited on our way back. Flowers are an important part of people’s lifes not only in Thailand and are used for festivals, weddings, birthdays, as a gift and for spiritual ceremonies as well. Having this piece of nature’s beauty in the cold city is a welcome diversity.
The story of markets
Asian markets can be as fun to see as markets in all countries are. The way people trade, sell and buy and the products offered can tell us a lot about the cuture and history. The second day, we left Bangkok to visit two markets about 1 ½ hours away from the capital.
The so called “floating market” in Damnoen Saduak is a very old market that takes place on a river. Local merchants ferry their goods and trade with tourists from boat to boat. Sadly, because of this, the place is overcrowded by tourists and locals even adjusted time and place to offer tourists a more pleasant atmosphere. That’s one of the negative effects tourism sometimes has…
Nevertheless we liked the history behind it and continued to our second spot for this day: the train market in Samut Songkhram Province. This market is not only located near the local train station, but it takes place on the rails. Yes, you’ve read correctly! And of course, the train connection is still in use. So the merchants developed their own way on how to deal with this: within seconds, they pull back the sunshades and their products to let the train pass to the station. As soon as the train passed, everything goes back to normal as if nothing happened. It’s fascinating to see how good this system works and what technologies were developed to integrate the trains’ arrival and departure as seemless as possible. You might have read something about this already…
If you want to learn more about Thailand’s railway, read Matthias’ recent post, you can find it here.
The day after, we headed back home already – well, to our current home: Luang Prabang.