Today marks the 115th anniversary of the State Railway of Thailand. Every year, on March 26th, they mark this anniversary by arranging a trip on a steam train to Ayutthaya. There are not many opportunities these days to experience a journey aboard carriages pulled by a steam locomotive. Many of these engines are fast disappearing on the scrap heap. Luckily in Thailand a number of engines have been well preserved and are in good working order.
The train left Hua Lamphong Station in Bangkok this morning shortly after 8 a.m. There were many train spotters and photographers there to record this unique event. As the train puffed through the heart of Bangkok, black smoke billowing into the air, people stopped what they were doing to stand and gaze at this mesmerizing sight. Last year I rode on this train through Bangkok. However, this year I wanted to be one of these spectators by the side of the tracks as the train appeared around the corner. This year I waited at Bang Sue Station which is conveniently on the MRT underground line.
I guess I felt a bit like one of the Railway Children as I waited impatiently for the train to arrive. It was already five minutes late when I spotted the puffs of black smoke in the sky. The minutes dragged by until at last I saw the iron monster coming over the horizon. The front was decorated with yellow garlands and each side adorned proudly with Thai flags. There were two engines back to back. Locomotive 824 was taking the lead with Locomotive 850 due to lead on the return journey. Following behind were the passenger carriages with many people at the windows. Some waved as I took their picture.
I will be there again next year though this time I want to ride the train like last year. It is an amazing experience that you will never forget. I just don’t know how many more years that steam trains will be active in Thailand. If you would like to have advance notice of special trips like this and festivals in Thailand, then keep an eye on two of our websites where we post all the latest news and events. These are our forums at www.ThailandQA.com and the festival calendar at www.ThaiFestivalBlogs.com. The train trips cost only 120 baht for the return trip to Ayutthaya. Once there you can join an optional tour of the city.