A stroll around the Makkasan area

15 11 2010

The Makkasan area of Bangkok is well known as being where the main depot of the State Railways of Thailand (SRT) is as well as an area that is known for its slums. The area also contains the delightful little (old) Makkasan Station, a station that would probably trace its origins back to the opening of the depot as far back as 1910, a century ago.

Makkasan Station is along the Eastern Commuter Line which connects Central Bangkok with Chachoengsao.

Slums are very much in evidence around the Makkasan area of Bangkok.

A view of the Makkasan area of Bangkok which has long been associated with the railway.

A rail truss bridge in the Makkasan area.

Much of the old Makkasan Staton building that we see today would have been erected post war, but delightful nonetheless with a charm of a old rural station. It serves as a focal point for the area: an open air market operating in its shadow every morning, and operates as a station along the Eastern Commuter Line that runs from Bangkok’s Central Station, Hua Lamphong, to Chachoengsao some 60 kilometres away, serving primarily as an alighting point for workers at the train depot. There is in fact now, a newer Makkasan Station – developed to serve the Airport Line that links central Bangkok with Suvarnabhumi Airport, which overshadows the old Makkasan (along with the elevated train line that runs parallel to the commuter line in the Makkasan area), and that would probably be the one that most would now think of as Makkasan Station, lying maybe a kilometre to the east of the old station.

The old commuter line, running parallel to the elevated new line - the Airport Link which provides a quick route from Central Bangkok to Suvarnabhumi Airport.

The market around Makkasan Station.

The market around Makkasan Station.

What can be seen at the old Makkasan Station and the area around it is possibly a cross section of life in the Bangkok that hasn’t yet been overrun by the skyscrapers and traffic – giving almost a glimpse into a world that perhaps is hidden to most tourists. It is a world that I would have very much liked to have had the time to explore – as I did the klongs off the Chao Phraya River close to the Klong Toei area a quarter of a century ago … something I guess I should prepare a post on, but given the limited time at my disposal, I was only able to catch a glimpse of the area and of life in the area.

The view from the main road of Makkasan Station.

The entrance to the station.

A tuk-tuk outside Makkasan Station.

On the spot repairs on a tuk-tuk outside Makkasan Station.

A proud resident of Makkasan.

Navigating through the labyrinth that is the market and the vehicles parked in front of the station, I found my way to the entrance of the station, and I immediately got a sense of the old world feel. The little station is in fact a gem waiting to be explored, its main lobby serving as a waiting area with wooden and stone benches providing the weary traveller with a place to rest before his next journey, as well as housing the ticket counter and a convenience shop. In the lobby, I was able to catch a glimpse at life at a standstill, something which escapes you on the busy streets beyond the station. Besides travellers waiting for the next train to arrive – something that I missed out on seeing, there were also children at play, bringing life from the streets to the lobby.

From the main lobby looking out to the platform ... A column supporting the new Airport Link partially obscures the Makkasan Train Depot in the background.

A view of the waiting area.

The waiting area and the ticket counter.

The convenience shop at Makkasan Station.

The platform at Makkasan Station.

Another view of the platform at Makkasan Station.


A child from the streets, playing at the station lobby.

A close-up of the ticket counter.

Across the platform (as on the platform itself) where I had again felt that I was in another world, one far removed from the hustle and bustle on the main streets on other side of the station, I was able to peek across at the yard of the train depot, where a wealth of old locomotives – including some steam locomotives … I managed to get a photograph of one through the gate before a security guard prevented me from taking any more (I am not sure why as there seems to be a wealth of photographs of some of the old locomotives in the yard on railfan sites). After a quick glance and a last look around, it was time for me to go, and not having the hour that it took me to walk to the area from where I was based, it was a quick ten minute rush back to the madness that is Central Bangkok, helter-skelter, seated on the backseat of a tuk-tuk.

Stepping into another world on the platform of Makkasan Station.

The elevated Airport Link next to the old line at Makkasan Station.

An old diesel locomotive in the yard of the train depot at Makkasan as seen from the station platform.

An old steam locomotive in the yard as seen through a gate.

A view of the station from across the tracks.

The station office.

Passengers waiting at the platform.

More scenes around the Makkasan area:

A slum area in Makkasan.

Buildings built over a high pressure pipeline!

A piece of old machinery at the Thai Labour Museum in the vicinity.

A religious procession taking place ... I think it's for the ordination of a monk.

A drummer at the procession.