By train from Bangkok to Mahachai

Mahachai is a major fishing port in the province of Samut Sakhon, Thailand. To get there you have to first go to Wongwien Yai railway station which is across the Chao Phya river in Thonburi. From Wongwien Yai there are trains leaving every hour to the town of Mahachai. The fare is only 10 baht (30 US cents) one way which is extremely cheap!

The trains plying this route are rather old and decrepit without any air conditioning, and there is only one class which is third or ordinary class. But since the journey takes only an hour it wasn't much of a problem for me, and none of my guests have ever complained. Believe me, I've been in much worse trains before!

The train ride itself is not that uncomfortable, and it passes alongside paddy fields, small towns and villages. At some places the train gets so close to people’s homes that you can sometimes watch TV with them. When the train slows down or pauses, you can even smell the exotic fragrances of spices as they cook their meals.

As the train nears Mahachai station you can see vendors on both sides of the tracks moving out of the way of the oncoming train. Actually, they sell their goods under giant umbrellas besides the railway tracks so whenever a train comes into the station they just fold the umbrellas to get them out of the train's way as it pulls into the station. As soon as the train passes they go right back to re-open their umbrellas, and continue with their business!

The railway station at Mahachai is a small one, but when you alight at the station you can see many shops selling various wares, and it was always crowded whenever I went there. As you leave the station you are in the middle of a very busy street and a big market, with vendors selling all sorts of fish, crabs, shrimp and other forms of wriggling sea life, as well as all kinds of produce. Most of the stuff are just displayed on trays on the street, and the vendors will persuade you to buy from them as you walk along. This market is supposed to be Thailand's largest fresh seafood (from the Gulf of Thailand) market, and I am always dazzled by the array of fresh seafood available there.

From the market it's just a stone's throw away to the pier. I usually go there first to feel the cool sea breeze and watch the fishing trawlers while they are docked in the small harbor. There is a Chinese temple at the pier, and also a small park where families come to have picnics. I have often sat down at this park just to get a breather. Food vendors abound in this area, selling anything from soft drinks to grilled cuttlefish and corn on the cob. One time we even got to see a magic show. One can also take a ferry boat across the river to the other side of town. I have crossed over only once and remember hiring a motorcycle to explore that other part of town.

We would always have lunch at this restaurant located right on the wharf. The food there, although a bit on the costly side is really fresh and delicious. While you eat, you can see the fishing boats leaving their berths or unloading the day's catch.

If you have some time on your hands while wandering around Bangkok, I would definitely recommend visiting this town as it is not that far from Bangkok, and you can get to experience a place not known as a tourist trap.