26 May 2014

Following the railtracks, I

Ramkhamhaeng Airport Link to Makkasan Airport Link (4 km)

I'm constantly looking for new locations to roam around and capture through my eyes and trough the camera; they don't necessarily need to be far away from home, lost in distant, exotic places, which would reduce the number of times I can go on such trips dramatically; on the contrary, more often than not those places are quite near my flat, easily accesible by public transportation (or even by foot); it is simply a question of finding them, and going! Bangkok is a vast, diverse city and, if you are observant and curious enough, you will rarely run out of spots to visit, discover, walk and enjoy.

All about lines, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
Staircase through the shadows, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
But sometimes you feel the need to do something a bit different, to stray from the usual environments and go off the beaten track, and this is precisely what happened to me a few weekends ago. My body asked for a photowalk, but I rejected the idea of visiting the places I have seen and walked so many times before; that day I needed something different and new, but nearby. After discarding some uninteresting ideas, I found an itinerary that sounded exciting and fun, yet it was just around the corner. Without more delay, I grabbed my camera and left my room. 2 bus stops later, I was at the beginning of my trip. There was a clear, defined line showing me the unmistakable way ahead: the railtracks.

Wheels vs. tracks, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
Workers parade, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
Bangkok doesn't have an extensive train system compared to other Asian cities, as it only counts with 3 elevated train lines, 1 underground line, and the traditional land lines that leave the city in multiple directions, linking the capital to the rest of the country. These latter lines are the original, primitive, oldest ones, the only ones traveling on the ground, and the ones I'm interested about, because they have the richest history, and because I can walk along their railtracks without interruptions or obstacles.

Khlong Tan Station, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
Against the current, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
Recess, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
The itinerary is a very relaxed, easy and straight walk of roughly 4 kilometres: starting under Ramkhamhaeng Airport Link Station and walking towards the city center, the railtracks go through a very sparingly urbanized environment, where all you will see and pass by are a few humble neighborhoods of small shacks (reminiscent of rural Thailand but right in the heart of the metropolis), deserted plots of land, a couple of small scale and silent factories, and the back, hidden part of the high rise buildings that are looking in the opposite direction, that is, Phetchaburi Road, which travels parallel to the railtracks but ignoring them completely, separated by the impenetrable concrete of the modern buildings. So near, yet so dissociated and apart from each other, as two completely unrelated worlds.

The observer I, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
The observer II, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
Bare foot, busy ear, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
A bit further ahead you will pass the old Klong Tan Train Station, a rundown parking area reconverted to playground, patches of bare ground where the dwellers of these lands play volleyball or takraw, and, obviously, a few markets, all lined along the tracks, mere centimeters from them, as close as a shadow is to the object projecting it. The railtracks are the spine of this whole area, no doubt, and all activities (business and leisure) spin around them.

Train smelling dog, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
Levels, GM1 + Lumix G Vario 12-32mm
A window without frame, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
And, coming as a no surprise, I encountered people, lots of them, and they were all, as it is the norm in this warm country, curious and friendly. Kids playing in the playground or adults playing music with their neighborhood band, teenagers eating ice cream or customers negotiating in the markets, the railtracks are populated by faces that never cease to smile. There was only one thing that didn't cooperate with me to make this a perfect stroll: the grey sky. The light was harsh and ugly, and everything looked dull and flat, but this has challenged me to try a style that I haven't explored deeply yet, and which is starting to appeal to me more each day: monochrome photography.

The joy of  childhood, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
The joy of music, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
This is my first post since I created this blog where all the captures are monochrome, and I have realized how suitable this look is for high contrast, harsh light environments. I'm afraid I'm going to explore this direction further in the future!

Oblivion, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
Relic, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm
And this way my trip ended in Makkasan Airport Link Station, as the sun was already setting and it was getting dark all around me, so I caught a bus and returned home. But one thing is clear: I will definitely continue this trip further along the railtracks soon! (To see the second part of this walk along the railtracks click here).


  1. i've just spent a fascinating time looking at your gorgeous images.. i've never been to Thailand nor am i liable to go in this lifetime...
    but, you have given, to me, a look at life/folk of that country, thank you.. usually all i see are images that are most suitable for Travel Agents etc.. images to suck one into spending.. images of "nightlife", overpriced hotels, apartments and restaurants.. images which are not to my taste... these gentle images have said more to me than all the high colour glossy shots which are peddled out at an unbelievable rate. once again: thank you... Jo

  2. Thank you very much for your warm and appreciative words, Kelsang!
    The truth is, even if I live in Bangkok (almost 4 years in this complex city), I don't live in the Bangkok that gets promoted outside and that most tourists know and visit; I live in a humble, working class neighborhood in the outskirts, I socialize mostly with local people and I spent most of my time walking and wandering around small and traditional quarters.
    The other side of the city, the one you mention, it's visible in the horizon, no doubt (the buildings are high enough and the neon lights bright enough at night to be seen from afar) but that's not my world, despite being so near, I feel like I belong somewhere else, and I'm glad that you could see and feel that dissociation in my pictures.
    Thailand is so much more than (fake) downtown Bangkok! If I can portray a little bit of that through my images, I'm more than glad!

  3. These are awesome! Just inspired me to go on a photowalk of my own.

  4. Thanks Michael! I'm glad that I triggered that feeling in you, it's amazing the power images can have!

  5. nice work I enjoyed the tour