All Aboard! To Ayutthaya on a Steam Locomotive 蒸気機関車で行く アユタヤへの旅

Published on: July 07, 2017

Four times a year, a special steam locomotive departs from Hua Lamphong to famous heritage sites in Thailand. Your child, not to mention the child in you, is sure to enjoy the ride!

Words and photos by Nobuko Cate Katsura / Translated by Ema Naito-Bhakdi [日本語記事へ]

 

With 4,000km of rail, the State Railways of Thailand (SRT) boasts the most extensive rail network in Southeast Asia. It connects Bangkok to Ayutthaya and Chiang Mai to the north, as well as to the Malaysian border in the south.

On four occasions each year, the SRT runs a special steam locomotive: the anniversary day when the railways began operation (March 26th), the Queen’s birthday (August 12th), Chulalongkorn Day (October 23rd), and Rama IX’s birthday (December 5th).

Tickets for these popular trips usually sell out on the day of sales and many visitors flock to the station just to see the unique steam locomotive.

This locomotive was brought over to Thailand from Japan after the end of World War II. In a period where many Asian countries faced food shortages, Thailand had a relative surplus of rice production. But there was an insufficient number of trains to transport rice from the Isaan (Northeast) region to Bangkok, so it is said that the American military proposed to the Japanese to produce trains in exchange for Thai rice. The Thais ordered 50 locomotives in 1948, and another 50 in 1950, for a total of 100 trains. Only a few are still operational today.

All aboard!

March 26th. Following signs from MRT Hua Lamphong Station, we arrived at the SRT Bangkok terminal, half an hour before the steam locomotive’s departure time. On the platform, tour groups and families with children milled all about the front end of the black-painted steam locomotive, taking photographs and observing the train.

I had called the SRT twice in attempts to make ticket reservations in advance and was told that the tickets were sold out, so my son and I had come this day with the intention to just see the train off.

But when I asked a tour company representative on the spot, I was told that there were two tickets left. We grabbed the opportunity and boarded the train and were off! The journey had begun.

Looking out of the window, we got glimpses into the lives of people living along the train tracks. There were also spectators standing by the tracks or picnicking on the ground who had gathered to see the steam locomotive.

Gradually the scene became more bucolic. Those from the Thai tours sitting around us opened their light meals, and my son began playing with the Thai kids.

Kids love Ayutthaya too

Approximately 80km to the north of Bangkok and a 1.5-hour car ride away is Ayutthaya, an ancient capital and UNESCO World Heritage Centre. We arrived safe and sound, although a bit later than scheduled. On the platform, we were greeted with festive music and traditional Thai dancers.

When we exited the station, the tuk-tuks were parked on the right-hand side. You could negotiate with the driver where you wanted to go; the hourly rate to charter a tuk-tuk appeared to be around ฿150-200.

We started with a visit to Wat Mahathat, which was damaged when the Burmese army attacked Ayutthaya. The scars from the attack were still prominent, and it was quite shocking to see the statues with their heads lopped off.

I was somewhat apprehensive about whether ruins would be of any interest to my young son, but, being into superheroes, he said, “Ah-ha, so this is where the monsters had come…” and seemed to enjoy looking at the ruins.

We visited a few other temples and fed some elephants before heading back to Bangkok.

The tuk-tuk driver took us to the van (rot tuu) terminal, and we took a van back to Bangkok for ฿60. My son fell asleep immediately, and a quick 1.5 hours later, we were at BTS Mo Chit Station. The final stop is Mo Chit Bus Terminal, but it’s good to tell the driver in advance that that’s where you would like to get off.

The next steam locomotive excursion is scheduled for August 12th. This time it will head 55km west to Nakhon Pathom, a renowned Buddhist destination. It will be traveling to Ayutthaya again on October 23rd.

There is no charge to go to the station platform and the kids are bound to enjoy even just looking at a real steam locomotive—so why not head out there!

 

Reference

KAKIZAKI, I. 2004. Railways and Rice Transport in Thailand, 1941–1957: Insufficient Transport Capacity and the Northeast. Kyoto University, Southeast Asian Studies, 42(2): 157-187

 

1-Day Itinerary

8:10    Steam locomotive departs from Hua Lamphong Station

10:50    Arrive in Ayutthaya Station; charter a tuk tuk to go to Wat Mahathat

12:00    Lunch at a riverside restaurant (try the tom yum soup with river prawns, Ayutthaya’s specialty!)

13:00    Head to Wat Lokayasutha, with the giant reclining Buddha

13:40    Feed elephants

14:30    Van departs for Bangkok

16:00    Disembark from van near Mo Chit BTS Station

 

How to Buy Tickets

Tickets are available for sale from 60 days before departure and can be purchased at Hua Lamphong Station. Reservations can also be made by phone (Thai/English); some tour companies also offer packages.

  • Tel: 1690 (24hours, free); reservations: 02-621-8701, ext.1
  • Price: ฿250 (includes round trip train ticket, breakfast, snack, and drink)

 

年に4回だけ特別運行される蒸気機関車でタイの名所へーー。汽笛を鳴らしながら颯爽と走る機関車を思い浮かべれば、子どもだけでなく大人も心ときめきませんか?

著・写真 桂信子

 

東南アジア最大規模の運行距離、約4,000kmあるタイ国有鉄道(SRT)。バンコクから、北はチェンマイ、アユタヤ、南はマレーシア国境までを結んでいます。毎年、国鉄開通記念日(3/26)、シリキット王妃誕生日(8/12)、チュラロンコン大王記念日(10/23)、プミポン国王誕生日(12/5)を祝うべく、日本製の蒸気機関車が特別運行されます。切符は即日完売。当日は切符が取れなかった人たちも機関車を一目見ようと駅まで訪れるなど、好評を博しています。

この蒸気機関車は、太平洋戦争後に日本からタイに渡ったもの。戦後、アジア各地が食糧不足だった際、米の生産力に余力のあったタイ。けれどもイサーン地域からバンコクに米を輸送する鉄道車両が不足しており、アメリカ軍が日本にタイ米と引き換えに車両を製造させることを考案したといいます。タイ側は蒸気機関車を1948年に50両、50年に50両、計100両を発注しており、その中の数両が、今でも走行可能なこの機関車です。

蒸気機関車、いざ出発進行!

3月26日、MRTのHua Lamphong駅から案内に従って5分ほど歩いていくと、タイ国鉄のバンコク駅に発車予定時間より30分ほど早くホームに到着。黒塗りの蒸気機関車の前には、子連れの家族、団体旅行の人々が続々と現れ、写真撮影をしています。

実は筆者も、事前に切符を予約しようとタイ国鉄に問い合わせたところ、すでに完売と言われており、この日は子どもと二人、駅まで行って蒸気機関車の見送りに行くつもりでした。ところが、現地でツアー会社の人に尋ねてみたところ、まだ席が2席だけ空いているとのこと! ここぞとばかりに列車に乗り込み、いよいよ出発進行! 多くの人々に見送られ、旅が始まります。

車窓から外を眺めていると、線路脇にはそこで生活する人たちの暮らしが垣間見えます。また、機関車を一目見ようと線路沿いに立っていたり、座敷を敷いて見物している人も。そして徐々に景色は田園風景になります。周囲に座っていたタイのツアー客の人々と一緒に軽食をとり、子どもはいつのまにかタイ人の子どもと一緒に遊んでいます。

子どもも楽しめるアユタヤ

バンコクから北へ80キロメートル、車で片道一時間半ほどのアユタヤ。世界遺産に指定されている古都です。機関車の到着は予定より遅れたものの、無事にアユタヤ駅へ到着。ホームでは賑やかな音楽が流れ、タイの踊りを舞う人々が出迎えてくれます。

駅を出て右手にトゥクトゥク乗り場があり、3時間チャーターを依頼。ここは値段交渉が必要で、相場は1時間あたり฿150〜200ほどのようです。運転手さんと相談しつつ、行きたい場所を伝えます。

Wat Mahathatは、かつてアユタヤ王朝がビルマに襲撃された時の傷跡を今に伝える場所で、頭が欠けている像などがあり、なかなかショックを受ける光景でした。幼い子どもが遺跡に興味を持てるのか少し心配でしたが、朽ち果てた像を眺め、ヒーローものが好きな我が子は「ここは、怪獣たちが去った場所なのか……」と彼なりに想像しながら、興味深そうに遺跡を眺めていました。このほかにもお寺をめぐって象への餌やりなどを楽しみ、帰途へ。

トゥクトゥクの運転手さんにバンコク行きのロットゥー乗り場へ連れて行ってもらい、バンコクへ(฿60)。ロットゥーに乗った途端に子どもは寝落ちし、一時間半ほどであっという間にBTSモーチット駅へ。(終点はモーチットバスターミナルですが、事前にモーチット駅で降りる旨をドライバーに伝えた方が便利)。

この機関車は、次回は8月12日に運行される予定。行き先は、バンコクから西に55kmほどの仏教の聖地、ナコーンパトムです(アユタヤ行きは10月23日運行予定)。ホームまで入るのは無料なので、蒸気機関車を見に行くだけでも子どもたちが喜ぶはず。ぜひご家族でお出かけください。

 

参考文献:柿崎一郎(2004)「タイの鉄道と米輸送 1941~1957年 : 輸送力不足と東北部」, 京都大学『東南アジア研究』, 42(2): 157-187

 

一日プラン

8:10  SRT Bangkok駅から蒸気機関車で出発

10:50 Ayutthaya駅到着

トゥクトゥクチャーター後、お寺Wat Mahathatへ

12:00 川沿いのお店でランチ

(アユタヤ名物、川エビのトムヤンクンがオススメ)

13:00 お寺Wat Lokayasutha(巨大な涅槃像)へ

13:40 象の餌やり

14:30 バンコク行きロットゥー乗り場から出発

16:00 ロットゥーをBTSモーチット駅周辺で下車

 

 

チケット申し込み方法

チケット予約は運行予定日の60日前より。バンコク市内のHua Lamphong駅などで購入できる。電話での予約も可能(対応言語は英語・タイ語)。

⬛フリーダイヤル:1690(24時間)/その他予約課:02−621−8701 内線1番

⬛料金:250B(往復切符、朝食、軽食、飲み物を含む)

*ツアー会社でもツアープランが用意されています。

 

About the Author

Cate worked in Japan as editor of a travel magazine, advertisements and a web magazine with a publishing company, a subsidiary of Japan Railways. She moved to Bangkok with her husband in 2015, when he located to work in Thailand. They have a 3-year-old son. Cate has a global background, born in the United States, brought up in Hong Kong and Japanese by origin. Her interests are learning languages, traveling and reading. Lately, she finished a Thai language course. Now, onto improving her English language skills!

日本の出版社で旅行情報誌、広告やWebマガジンの編集に携わったのち、2015年夫に伴ってバンコクに移住。3歳男児の母。ルーツは日本で、米国生まれ、香港育ち。趣味は言語を学ぶこと、旅行、読書。タイ語学習、英語のスキル向上の努力も怠らない。


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