After a long subway ride, we arrived at the magnificent Italian Renaissance style Hua Lamphong Train Station, built from 1910-1916. Compared to the completely modern Sky Train and Bangkok Metro, the Hua Lamphong is like a glimpse into Bangkok's past. Sounds of children playing, engines idling, and low conversation fill the vaulted space with kaleidoscopic echoes. Monks in bright orange robes, backpackers in various stages of “going native”, and a steady stream of locals add to a sense of surreal timelessness.
Purchasing our tickets to Chiang Mai proved to be a relatively simple task. Two banks of ticket counters — one for same day travel, one for future reservations — flank the arched walkway leading to the train platforms. We headed to the appropriate line and were greeted by a smiling young woman. In lightly accented English, she asked us about our plans and then acted as our interpreter for the ticket agent. In the end, we purchased two 2nd class tickets — a pair of upper berths in an air conditioned car — for about B1532; roughly $25.00.
This coming Wednesday, we will board a lavender and purple train car, and 15 hours later we will arrive in The Capitol of the ancient Lanna kingdom.