‘The silence of Chiang Mai’
The turntable lays idle under the setting sun. Two plaques on the side were you can reed: 132 and on the other one: Joseph Mangele – Mannheim 1922 suitable for ninety tons. It survives wonderfully the old days though these days hardly in use. Several times a year it may turn the ‘Observer Car’ of the Eastern & Oriental Express. It is all done by hand power with a lever and chain mechanism. Wholes in the edge of a concrete basin reveal some traces of a former track layout at the yard. The construction itself moves on a single loop track on the bottom littered with dust and debris.
On the background the silhouette of the station tower reflects its tallness against a quickly darkening sky. Behind the fence – don’t fence me in – there’s a gap, a dearly missing narrow gauge steamer; Nº 31 who never did any duty in this surrounding.
It’s almost a toy and brutally removed by night from his plinth for what should have been a reviving duty at a garden project near Bangkok. Unfortunate this project for one reason or another didn’t come to daylight. A heap of rust on a flat car at the Makkasan shop in Bangkok is all what’s left; one with a vivid memory and some imagination can recognize the former little steamer. It’s a pity that there’s no right feeling for things from the past. One thing only; put it together again and back on plinth for the sake of history. The two lorries for maintenance and track inspection purpose now in the spotlight still waiting for the return and will happily make place.
Meanwhile a sole locomotive keeps reminding the heyday – ex Swiss ‘Rhätische Bahn’ Nº 118 / SRT Nº 340 – and slowly falling apart. Rust takes its toll. A bleak reminder of a long forgotten era waits another night at Chiang Mai, the railhead of the North, and silence after the last train of the day left the station on its way to Bangkok.