Exploring by Train (Part 3) – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #7a

February 24, 2010 at 10:06 am | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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At last, after asking around for direction of “rot fai” (train in Thai language), we finally saw the railway track! No wonder we couldn’t find it, cos it was hidden among some houses…in our excitement we forgot to take a photo!!! 😦

First time we felt so happy seeing the railway track…hahah

Yeah! The train’s here!

Just as Itchyfingers thought we had made it in time for the next train and were about to look for the ticket booth, a guard came over and told us in halting English that the next train would be at 1.10pm. It was around 11.30am when we found the Ban Laem station, so it would mean we had to wait more than an hour to take the next train to Maeklong…

Tisu Boy trying to flip through the guidebook to see if there was any information
and found that it would be impossible to make it back to the city if we were
to wait for this train…We would really have to come back the next time…

Disappointed and tired, we thanked the guide and headed back to town to take the boat back to Mahachai….

But while dragging our feet under the scorching sun, we saw something interesting..

Oooo…what’s that?

Being Itchyfingers, we walked in to see…

Oh, squids!

We saw some women inside working and wanted to see the process. Then we saw a guy sitting at one corner, smiling and waving at us. We waved and smiled back and asked if we could go in and take photos.

The women were picking up the fully dried squids one by one…

More of them doing the collection

The floor was littered with broken pieces of the dried squids. This woman
hit the net with a stick to get rid of stubborn pieces that refused to come

The whole area was covered with nets and nets of squids for drying…

Fresh ones

Completely dried up under the hot sun!

We spotted some dried cuttlefish among the mountains of squids.. :p

Too bad we couldn’t communicate with the people, otherwise it would be interesting to find out exactly how long does it take to dry the squids…We nodded to the man and thanked him (this I know how to say in Thai…hahah) before proceeding to take the boat back to Mahachai…

This time I pointed at the boat tickets and pointed at myself to indicate to
the woman collecting tickets that I wanted to keep them…

Back at the fish market at Mahachai, we looked with interest especially the fish stalls selling squids – some were fresh ones while others were the dried ones…hmmm…they must had gotta the supplies from the factory just across the bank… :p

We were looking at these bags of small crabs when something familar
caught my eyes…Can you see it?

The stall owner saw us pointing at it and immediately took it out for us to see…

Horseshoe Crab!!!! Those selling here were the Coastal Horseshoe Crabs
that were the much bigger species. The one he was holding was at least
15-18 cm in diatmeter. This looked like the female…

The friendly stall owner posing for a picture..

Well, I knew that Thai people eat Horseshoe Crabs, but that was the first time we saw them actually selling in the market. So I asked the man how do they cook them, and he made the ‘grilling’ action with his body language. “Barbecue?”, I said, and he nodded. Then he also pointed to the Horseshoe crab and said they do eat the meat inside the shell…not too sure how much meat there was to savour, but normally people eat the eggs, which are toxic unless you prepare it the correct way. Besides Thailand, China and Halong Bay in Vietnam also eat it. Forgot to ask him how much were they selling the Horseshoe Crabs, as I was already feeling a bit sad especially when I just did a Horseshoe Crab rescue with a friend not too long ago… 😦

Another stall selling the Horseshoe Crabs. This stall owner was much more
unfriendly-looking so we din ask any questions…

Made it back to Mahachai station but the booth would only open half an hour
before the train departs at 1.15pm…

It was already lunch time but we felt so tired cos of the heat and didn’t have much appetite…tummy was too full with water too…

There were many roadside stalls selling the same fried snacks, this was
the only one selling this cute snack. Looked like some fish cake stuff…didn’t
buy a stick cos the stall was just directly next to the bus-stand, so it was
constantly absorbing black exhaust from buses…

Finally got our tickets back to the city. Itchyfingers would definitely
try to make the full train journey another day!

Also see related posts:
> Exploring by Train (Part 2) – Bangkok Trip #6a
Exploring by Train (Part 1) – Bangkok Trip #5a
Paper Art – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #4a
Pirate in the Land of Smiles – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #3a
Children of Heaven – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #2a
Have a Break…Take a Nap – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #1a
> Saving the ‘Old Antiques’ – Horseshoe Crabs Research and Rescue

Exploring by Train (Part 2) – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #6a

February 21, 2010 at 10:00 am | Posted in itchy backside | 2 Comments
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While trying to look for the ferry terminal, Itchyfingers found ourselves at the Mahachai Market – Thailand’s largest traditional fresh seafood market.

Busy street

Salted fish neatly arranged

These were so pretty…

Business was good!

There were a lot more stalls and shops selling many other items but we had to avoid the distraction and try to look for the ferry terminal…

Still ended up being distracted by these tamarinds…

And these…Oooo…looked interesting…

We were supposed to find the Ta Chin River but couldn’t really see any signs. Then we saw the pier…!

Fishermen offloading the day’s catch

Busy sorting out

From the other end..we realised there were lotsa water hyacinth in the
water like in Vietnam

We saw this commuters’ boat which we thought should be going opposite
bank…But where to board the boat?

Finally found the jetty. The woman said it cost only 3 Bahts and not 5 Bahts
according to my notes, but the destination was to this Ban Laem place,
which was correct…As the railway line is separated by the large river,
commuters would have to transfer via boat to get to the other side in
order to continue their rail journey

We had not planned to explore this far that day, but ended up taking the
boat to Ban Laem…When we bought the pre-cut tickets from the woman at
the booth and showed it to another one checking tickets, the latter just
took it and threw it into the bin…A bit waste of paper since there was
no dates stamped on it…they might as well just collect and reuse them…

There were limited seats on the long boat to cater to motorcyclists

Saw this adorable ring on a woman’s finger… :p

That was where we came from at the left, with the fishermen’s loading area
on the right

Less than 5 minutes’ boat ride took us here at Ban Laem

My notes said, “exit Mahachai station train, turn right (the same direction the train is pointed), and walk a short distance to the ferry landing which crosses the river to a new railway station, Ban Laem. The ferry (five baht) travels upriver to a new train terminal at Ban Laem on the opposite bank.” It did not say how short the distance, but we gotta walk pass all the fish stalls to the ferry landing and the boat did not bring us to the train station but to the town. Maybe the information online was really not updated?

Itchyfingers had gone so far, about half the distance, so I thought we might as well go all the way! But the problem was, with no signs and no one that understood English, we really had no idea how to get to the train station!

So we just explored the town, hoping to find the railway track…We asked
a couple of young people, hoping they would understand English but none
of them could! In the end we checked our guidebook for the Thai word of
“train station” and realised all this while when we were taking the BTS train,
the announcement was already telling us the “train station” in Thai! So
“station” is “Satanii” and “train” is “rot fai”!

So with a combination of body language and our “newly accquired skill” in Thai language, we made it so far here..

We passed by this school at the left and a temple at the right ahead…but we
were still not too sure where the train station was….

Strange, don’t they teach English in schools?

Did Itchyfingers make it to the train station to continue our journey? Do look out for the next post! 🙂

Also see related posts:
> Exploring by Train (Part 1) – Bangkok Trip #5a
Paper Art – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #4a
Pirate in the Land of Smiles – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #3a
Children of Heaven – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #2a
Have a Break…Take a Nap – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #1a

Exploring by Train (Part 1) – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #5a

February 18, 2010 at 10:00 am | Posted in itchy backside | 4 Comments
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Itchyfingers saw on the travel programme an interesting market in Bangkok called Maeklong that we have not visited or even heard of. It sounded fun and different from what most of our friends would have done in Bangkok (shopping lor! ;p) so we were eager to pay it a visit. But a search on the net didn’t provide very much details on how to get to the place, even if there were any, the sites were dated a few years back that we were not sure if the information is still up-to-date – the place we were keen to go needed us to take the train, so the train schedule was quite crucial.

Saw a friend’s pictures on Facebook and realised that she also visited the market just two weeks before our trip. Excitedly, I emailed her for details on how to get there but was a bit disappointed to know that she engaged the service of a local guide and they actually drove there. Itchyfingers always prefer the DIY way, so usually we won’t join any tours cos most of them are always so rush, unless there are no public transport to the destination or if doing it at our own pace would cost much more (like in the case of Cu Chi Tunnel at Vietnam). The price she paid for was 900 Baht per person (around S$38) provided if you have four person sharing the car, and they would also visit the floating market, a local house making homemade coconut sugar and a handicraft centre (Did I hear handicraft centre? See here for Itchyfingers‘ experience at Vietnam’s handicraft village). Being cheapo Itchyfingers, we thought 900 Baht for a half day tour (pick up from hotel at 7am and back at hotel at 12.30pm) was a bit damaging to our pockets :p and of cos we didn’t have another two persons to share the guide with us. So, back to more research online and hitting the library for more guidebooks…

Initially Tisu Boy was not so keen in visiting the place especially when we didn’t have time to do more research and couldn’t be sure if the information we found was still valid. But I was quite persistent and insisted that we should just try. Hence the plan was to just go to the train station and check out the updated timing before setting another day for a full trip.

So, following the direction on my scribbled notes, Itchyfingers took the BTS to Wong Wian Yai station. From there, we had to look for “a big roundabout and turn to the Taksin Bridge crossing the Chao Phraya River.” That alone was quite challenging (at least for me!) cos traffic in Bangkok can be crazy…Well, obviously I wasn’t the only person to find it confusing, cos we discovered later while looking for the big roundabout, that we were kinda ‘tailed’ by another guy who was also checking out the location map at the station! Hmmm…maybe he should have asked if he could walk with us instead of following secretly and then pretending to look away when we discovered him? :p

We ended up walking faster trying to shake him off, only stopping occassionally to take photos of landmarks to help us find our way the next round…haha….naughty Itchyfingers… 8)

From Wong Wian Yai BTS station, cross the overhead bridge to the opposite
side of the road, walk straight and cross the traffic junction. Then just walk
straight, passing a few streets before your nose brings you here. The smell
from the river was quite overwhelming, and this was actually the backyard
of the houses…

You should be on the right track when you see this…I think the station is
nearer to the number 8 sign, which we forgotten to photograph… :p

Not sure if eventually did we manage to find the correct roundabout, but we did see an obscure sign saying train station so we just turned into the street on the left…and we were quite surprised at what we saw…

We found the train station!

And that’s the train! How strange to find the station almost hidden in a
maze of a market on Somdet Phra Chao Taksin Road!

Doggy had no problem taking a nap here…

We went to check out the timetable for the train and were surprised to find that the train would be leaving in less than 10 minutes’ time. So we made the impromptu decision to just buy the ticket and hop onto the train!

The cost of the one hour journey from Wong Wian Yai station to Mahachai
station was only 10bahts (S$0.40)! We were given a timetable but it was
all in Thai… 😮

To go to that market on the travel programme, we would have to go from Samut Sakhon (also known as Mahachai). We were surprised that the train actually left on time! :p

Stalls at the station…

The train was quite packed…went through so many cars…no seats…in the
end we gotta share seats with a group of local teenagers. Obviously at
10 Bahts, you couldn’t expect to have air-conditioning. Luckily when the
train moved, it was more breezy

Our seats were near the toilet, luckily there was no smell…

Sign on the aluminum toilet door. Does anyone know the meaning of the
Thai words? Itchyfingers just interpreted it as: “must clap hands before
you go into the loo”… hahaha!!!

Tisu Boy went in to ‘kaypo’…but he din clap before or after he went in…

No smoking…but the group of teenagers went out to smoke…

So dangerous to stand here when the train was moving just to smoke…

Wow this should be an old train?

Houses were quite close to the railway track…this was one of those further ones…

This house must be a chinese family…

This house had a beautiful pond of lotus

Some houses were in quite bad shapes…others had lotsa rubbish in front
and I wondered why didn’t the resident bother to clean up their front or
backyard…or maybe they did, but because they were so near to the railway
track, rubbish would always be thrown by train passengers?

While we kept ourselves busy taking photos of the scenery outside, the teenagers were having fun with a piece of towel…

They were having fun wearing and passing around this towel cap…I had the
urge to ask them to show me how to fold the towel cap and then wear it to
pose for photo…but eventually didn’t cos earlier on the towel was used by
one of them to wipe away sweat…er, not very hygienic leh…hahah…

One hour passed rather quickly and soon our train stopped at Mahachai and everybody alight. Strange it stopped at a market where one side was selling clothes, dried food and stuff while the other side was selling fresh meat…

The wet market from my train seat. It was an interesting sight but as the
weather was very hot and the stench from the meat was not very pleasant
in the humid condition, we decided not to walk in to see

O$P$!!! In Singapore, if you were to owe money from illegal moneylenders
(called the “loansharks”) and fail to return on time, they would use all
sorts of unscrupulous methods to make you pay up. One of the ‘ingenious”
scare method was to hang or put pig’s head in front of your door. The other
more economical and commonly used method is to shame you in front of
neighbours by vandalising walls and doors with “O$P$” (short form for
‘owe money pay money”) together with your name and telephone number

The other side of the rail…This seemed to be such a busy town!

We wanted to recce the location of the ferry terminal. My notes said,
“track run out at edge of Ta Chin River. Exit the station, turn right (same
direction train is pointing) and walk a short distance to the ferry landing.”
Sounds simple enough but when you were there with all the busy activities
around, it was so easy to get lost…!

So what happened next? Find out from our next entry! :p

Also see related posts:
> Paper Art – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #4a
Pirate in the Land of Smiles – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #3a
Children of Heaven – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #2a
Have a Break…Take a Nap – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #1a

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