11th March 2008 - Our vacation was getting better and better each day. Today we joined thousands of Bangkokians commutting in their much prided Skytrain.
The Skytrain coaches are surprisingly of top notch quality, in terms of service, infrastructure and facilities. Just look at this picture, see how wide the coach is. It certainly a class above our much bragged about LRT (of both the Kelana Jaya Line and Ampang Line). Come to think about it, it is even better than some of the older lines of London's Tubes.
But just to be fair, Bangkok's Skytrain was just recently introduced in 1999 (more or less at the same time as our Ampang Line) while the first line in London would be 150 years old this year. So I guess the later you get the service, the better it would be as you would get the latest of the latest.
One thing that I liked about this Skytrain is their multiple number of coaches. The coaches are long, as long as our Komuter Lines and with greater frequency, the coaches would not be as packed as both our Komuter Lines or Kelana Jaya Line during peak periods. Well, at least was what I observed, I may be wrong but on that day, a ride in the Skytrain was a breeze ride, both back and fro our destination.
So where did we go to?
Yes, we went to Bangkok's Ancient City, known to the locals as Muang Boran.
A City where a visit there would mean that you have travelled troughout Thailand, from Pattani to Chiengmai, and from the territories bordering Cambodia to the territories bordering Burma.
It's 320 acres in size and shaped along the actual map of Thailand. In other words you would be entering the City through Pattani all the way up to Chiengmai.
And what do you see there?
Hundreds of scuptures. From recognisable images like these elephants of various sizes and postures .....
... to strange and mystical creatures like this part human part snake statue ...
... and to these eeery looking seven headed snakes ...
.... not forgetting the hundreds of Buddha images of every descent postures, from meditating ......
... to sleeping ....
... to sitting, standing, walking etc etc etc all of which I just could not post them here for fear of consuming to much memory space.
Most amazing was the sight of magnificent reproduction of the hundreds of Thailand's historical structures, buildings, palaces, temples from all over the country, grouped into one city for all to admire.
And to reflect the real Thailand, there is a reproduction of an ancient mosque too on display. A reproduction not only for display but functional too as you are free to perform the solat without any problem.
You would also be brought back in time of about fifty years once you enter the Old Market Square Enclave. Old Kopitiams, Barber Shop, Grocery Shop and all those that exist 50 years ago were carefully preserved. Entering this Barber Shop for instance would bring you back to the memories of the old Malay films and the experience of reliving in that era was simply tremendous. Imagine being at a place where your grandpa or even your great grandpa could be used to, something that is now extinct in our modern surrounding.
Getting around the huge Ancient City was absolutely not a problem. The management of the city was proactive enough by providing vehicles for rent. This buggy, for instance, was rented for a fee of 300 Baht an hour. But since the City is huge, don't ever dream that you can cover the whole City within an hour. In the most minimum, you would be spending about three hours there, the amount of time we spent there.
Other than buggies, you can also rent bicycles or if you wish, you can always join a guided tour of the City in a tram.
My elder son would be the happiest person when we chose to rent the buggy. After a few metres driving it, he politely asked whether he could get his hands on the steering. His request was duly granted and that day became history to him as the first time he ever drived.
Yes, we did had our scary moments with his driving, but for a first timer, I would admit that he was not bad a driver indeed. I guess it won't be not long now that he would be driving us around town, as I'm sure he would be scrambling to get his driving license once he reach the eligilibity age.
All in all, we were extremely glad that we managed to get our way to the Ancient City. For new visitors to Bangkok, do make it a point to pay it a visit and have a taste of wholesome Thailand. Like us, you won't regret it.
But not to confuse you, you can't actually reach the Ancient City by just taking the Skytrain ride. The Skytrain ride was only probably a third of the journey. The rest of the journey would be by taking a cab from Skytrain's last station On Nut. The taxi fare from On Nut to the Ancient City would be around 250 Baht (according to the meter).
Day 4 ended with a splash in the Hotel's swimming pool, a day well spent and the splash was simply refreshing.
Stay tune to our adventures in Day 5 coming up next.