Exploring Around the Bangkok Skytrain

It’s my late journal from my trip to Bangkok in June 2017. Phew, two years already and I began to miss this city. It was my third time visiting the capital city of Thailand. I realized that I always love to come back again and again to Bangkok. It’s far from home, but there’s a sense of familiarity for me.

The high-rise buildings, heavy traffic congestion, intense heat, things that are not much different with Jakarta. Maybe those are also the reasons why Bangkok feels like home to me. Aside from those things, Bangkok has its strong character that I love with its magnificent temples and palaces, authentic canals, and busy markets.

In June 2017, last year, I had a workshop in Ploenchit, Bangkok. It’s a few days work trip basically and I had other things to do in Jakarta after that which made me didn’t arrange for extensions (why do I feel like I always use this excuse in my writing?). It’s a bummer that I couldn’t go to visit some sites with more authenticity such as local temples. Though I had visited some temples such as Wat Arun, Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho, Wat Saket, back then in my previous trips to Bangkok in 2013 and 2015, it felt incomplete to visit Bangkok without going to the temples during my last trip there.

Anyway, as I always love to explore town during traveling, I still can enjoy Bangkok without having to go to its touristy places. Since I only had free time in the evening to night or very early morning at that time, so I went around the neighborhood a little bit. I had a long walk during the night, I took the Bangkok Skytrain (BTS) and went to Sukhumvit Road (good place to explore night life in town – but also made me cautious to safety, especially carrying around a camera).

I also took the BTS and went to Siam in the morning, last day before my flight in the afternoon, and captured some scenes in the streets of Bangkok. Even that made me simply happy.

I always have a great time to do urban street photography in Bangkok. Maybe that’s also one of the reasons why I love this city. Whether you walk along the street or take BTS ride, you can easily capture simple daily urban scenes that might be interesting to some of us.

The main streets are clean and give you the mixture of modern and local elements. The Thai letters especially become the element that gives you this sense of place, telling that you are in Bangkok. Whether it’s placed in giant billboard, store banners, bus shelter, signage, or many other spots, they look pretty to me.

I’m not sure whether camera is allowed or not in BTS station or not, but I love to photograph there while waiting for the train to come. Even in Jakarta, the Commuter Line train station is also one of my favorite spots for street photography.

Talking about BTS (not the Korean boyband, but the sky train), I think a lot of the Bangkok citizens, including the tourists, are relying to this public transport. It is an elevated rapid transit system operated by the Bangkok Mass Transit System. In my opinion, Bangkok is quite advanced in providing its public transport service to the public. The BTS itself has been operating since December 1999. They have prepared in advance to reduce the traffic congestion in the city. At some point, traffic jam still happens anyway. But it’s always better for the public to have options in commuting or getting around from one place to another in the city.

Besides the BTS, Bangkok also has the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) railway lines and the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. Comparing to Jakarta, even though we’re quite behind in having the infrastructure, but it’s better late than never. As the MRT Jakarta is going to be officially operating soon, I’m expecting a new positive change to public transportation system in this capital city of Indonesia.

I guess I always have a heart for train station and its architecture. It has become my habit to try or use public transport, especially the rail system, whenever I visit different countries (if they have one). There are a lot of chances where we can get moments of people interacting or busy with themselves while they’re waiting. Always keep in mind to not trespassing people’s privacy while taking pictures, though.

I think 8 am to 9 am is a perfect time to do street photography in Bangkok if you have some time in the morning, especially if you’re a shadow hunter. Since there are a lot of high-rise buildings in Bangkok, also by the existence of sky train concretes lane across up there, there are a lot of chances of getting high contrast of shadows in places like this.

Morning like this is also a busy hour where you can see many people are walking down the streets. A lot of students are going for school while the adults are going for work. You just only have to wait for the right moment to hit your camera shutter.

Bangkok is always special to me. My first trip going to Bangkok in 2013 back then was a result of my savings from my first job working as a research assistant in a university. I used that as a reward for myself. Since then, it feels like I left some part of my heart to this city. I’m happy I had the chance to go back again after my first trip, but even that did not make me saying I’ve had enough. So, yeah, I’d love to come back again for sure.