‘A talk at the ticket window’
Arrival in Chiang Mai at the station is anything except entering a big city despite the dream of being it. Stepping out of the main hall an atmosphere village alike falls upon you of course after first being heartily greeted by the always eager custom hunting taxi drivers. They are more as timetable proof.
Ignore them for once, find your own way, stay a while at the station foreground and sniff the forgotten air of a yesteryears arrival when it was by all means a real journey that ended in the relative silence of what seems to be a remote area. Chiang Mai itself, by that time within a fortification, was a stiff walk away.
An oxcart was waiting for you, public transportation in pace of time. In that respect the city comes along. Looking at the shit dropped in front of your eyes or inhaling the fumes of motorized traffic, live always has been a bit stinky.
At Bangkok in front of the Hua Lamphong station one can find the so-called ‘zero marker’. Well, Chiang Mai could not stay behind, thus a plinthed elevated elephant with his trunk pointed in town direction, flanked with SRT logos, marked km 751 + 420 meter and a few more were never any rail was placed. The architecture of the building – a well thought design – is in Lanna style with some what seems to be ‘fachwerk’ details. A perfect reminder of the Germans who never made it to this point. One level only, with black tiles from hall till the end of two platform islands. One small, one big and four tracks. The big platform is complete under a roof with near the end a tropical garden sphere. A lovely spot for a gathering of train lovers but most often I am the lonely one. The whole structure is in line; even the designed booths on the isle are orderly numbered. There are worse situations in Railway land. No, on the contrary, the station layout is superb only one thing is missing: train movements! Look at the timetable and see how meager the service is. The station waits in anticipation. Wouldn’t it be a sort of joke if you go to the window and order your ticket to Bangkok in fluent Thai and full of length?
“Sawasdee khrap, tua khon deo chang song, na khrap, pai Krungthepmahanakhon Amornrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharat Ratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmasatharn Amornphiman Awatansathit Sakkathatiya Witsanukamprasit.”
And then be surprised as the railway clerk behind the glass not even blinks an eye, gives you the wanted and wish you an exceptionally pleasant journey in fluent English.