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Michael Portillo: Great Asian Railway Journeys #5 – Bangkok


Michael Portillo is in the Thai capital, Bangkok, midway through his rail tour of Thailand. He learns how the late 19th-century King Rama V built a grand palace and introduced railways to his country. He discovers the fine terminus commissioned by the king and meets a historian and designer who shares family roots with the present royal dynasty. Michael learns that King Rama V’s love of steam engines was inspired by Queen Victoria.

At the colossal new station under construction in the city, Michael hears how its four levels and 24 platforms will transform Thailand’s transport infrastructure. He circles the Grand Palace by tuk tuk, then boards the 21st-century skytrain for a wonderful view of the city.

Michael dines on the water in a floating market, where purchases are made from boat to boat. Following in the footsteps of writers such as Joseph Conrad, Graham Greene and John Le Carre, Michael checks into the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, built just before his guide.

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