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Friday, November 23, 2012

Getting There: Don Muang - Bangkok city

Life is sometimes like a Role Playing Game…

(or is it suppose to be the other way round…?)

What I mean, is that life is full of choices….
and each choice brings us to other choices and different outcomes…

Take for example, 
deciding how to get from Don Mueang airport to Bangkok city.
And even then would be based on the decision 
which part of Bangkok you want to end up…

Let’s say I am thinking of going to Hualampong station, 
Bangkok’s main train station.
There would be three main modes of transport available.
1. Taxi
2. Train
3. Bus

Taxi
The most convenient mode of transport, 
that of course comes at a price.
You can decide to take one from the:

a.      taxi booth
once you step into the main hall 
there will many options to choose from. 

Usually at a higher price or possibly more luxurious and spacious 
(like the so-called limousine taxi going about 500+ baht). 

b.      public taxi stand
step outside the terminal, get in line to the booth, get your slip and grab a cab.
This should easily cost 350+ baht (if using the meter as they should including the toll).
No hassle, no fuss.
c. illegal taxi
Usually no lines 
but these taxis not licensed to ferry passengers from the airport.

Just follow the route for the bus, 
but at the end of the steps, 
you just wave your hand and one will magically stop for you 
(in fact sometimes just standing there would have the same effect)

Train
Cheap (about 5 baht at the ticket counter).
erratic timing and a little grimy. 
Unfortunately after 11 p.m. there are no trains to Hualampong.

How to get there
The train station is just across the road.
as you step out the arrival gate, 
you can decide to take the healthy choice of the stairs, 
or the lazy option of the elevator.

Both of these are found behind the information counter, 
and in the same direction as the Amari Hotel.
(on your left from the international arrival gate, 

straight across from the local arrival gate)
Be it the huff and puff or the press and wait option 
(floor 2 as instructed),
You will appear in this hallway
Take note of the doors on the right…
There you have it..  another choice.. 
smaller wooden door or double glass doors.
Both come out to this overhead bridge.
To the right, your pathway to the buses.
To your left, the trains..
Head down the hallway,
Take note of the first turning on your right that says ‘Bangkok bound platform’.
Turn right, walk down the walkway,
Come out on the ground level and head to this booth 
(which is most likely to be closed)

Cross the tracks
Head to the main counter across…
Step up and hope that the guy at the counter will be helpful enough 
(two times it wasn’t very good experience.. 
though the one with the pretty lass seemed very pleasant… 
I wonder why…)


If and when you get your ticket, head back to platform 2, 
and wait for your train to hualampong (the last stop).

bus
My preferred mode of transportation. 
It’s cheap, and you get to mingle with the common folk.
Of course the drawback being it is slow, 
and maybe a little hot depending on which bus you get.

To get to Hualampong, you need to grab bus 29.
The classic red bus, air cooled will cost you a mere 8 baht.
The cooler yellow bus will cost you more… 
(about 24 baht, but not sure since I did not try before)

How to get there
Just as it is with the train,
Head up the elevator 
(or be the stairmaster, your choice) to 2nd floor.
Face the two doors and the two choices again.
Come to this same junction.

This time, will yourself to take a right and step into the light.
Where you will see this long walkway with stairs to the highway.
As you head to the bottom, you can decide to grab an illegal taxi,

Or do a 180, 
and walk in the small passage to this bus stand
 (It is amazing as I was here the week before, 
the bench was broken and the sign was leaning against the wall… 
what a difference a week makes…)

All you need to do then is to wait for the magical bus 29, 
and enjoy the ride to the end.
(or get off at chatuchak for MRT or Skytrain, 

or get down at Victory Monument for a change in bus or Skytrain)

Note: bus 29 runs 24 hours 
(means at any time you can find it 
despite what those in the airport terminal may tell you) 

and is very frequent throughout the day 
(while waiting for another bus, 
six bus 29’s passed by in the span of 5 minutes)

If you are afraid of the sun or the rain, 
there is actually a shaded bus stand further from the airport terminal.
Unfortunately since I had no time to document the way, it is pretty straightforward.
i.                    Step out of the terminal
ii.                  Turn right and walk
iii.                Keep walking til you come across a bus depot on your right
(think those are for chartered buses etc..)
iv.                 Keep walking straight til you see the road curve to the left to join the mainroad
v.                   Turn to the main road and the shaded bus stop is on the left.

One word of caution for the easily scared, the highway is pretty eerie at night. 
Lack of lights and infrequent buses can play tricks on ones minds.

Here is one piece of caution I found online:
“Keep in mind that some of these buses don't complete the route. They are called "additional bus" (Thai: รถเสริม rot serm). These kind of buses have a red sign in front of them with the final destination written on it (in Thai script of course). Check this before taking the bus. You can ask the locals at the bus stop or a conductor on the bus.”
Now that you have found your way to Hualampong, Bangkok awaits your next choice. (in my case it was to go to Siem Reap, but another story for another day)

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