Aesthetic of train journey

Sometimes, a little change of environment we live in or a short journey can inspire us to pick up a different, more creative view of life. It does not have to be a fancy trip to a big city or going to must-visit locations travel blogs suggest.

Maybe, an adventure to a small town nearby can do the trick, like one recent journey of mine from Chiang Mai to Phrae in which I learned about engaging with life as a “single meaningful entity.”

Denchai Railway Station in Phrae province in Thaialnd. Photo taken by Kanlayakorn Pengrattana.

The trip was made by a train and only took about three and a half hours to arrive there. On board, passengers were from different ages and genders. Some traveled as a couple, some were with their group of friends while some were by themselves.

But the things that everyone seemed to hold the same, I recognized, were the expectation and excitement of arrival at their destination.

There are multiple ways for a person to commute from one place to another. Some people might transport by a car, a plane, or a boat, though, according to Laura Watt’s opinion in her research “The Art and Craft of Train Travel”, she writes that “the train is perhaps the best aid to thought.”

Taking a train to somewhere could be the circumstance one allowed oneself to move along the same rhythm with space and time. It could be when we eventually switch off and “have been returned to ourselves—that is, brought back into contact with emotions and ideas of importance to us.”

An unseen view of a railway route from Chiangmai to Phrae. Photo taken by Kanlayakorn Pengrattana.

When a train journey begins, it seems like one is set to mentally shift gears from work, school, and responsibility to being automatically conscious of small things surrounded.

“Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like troops in a battle,
All through the meadows the horses and cattle:
All of the sights of the hill and the plain
Fly as thick as driving rain;
And ever again, in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by …”

— Robert Louis Stevenson, “From a Railway Carriage.”

By glancing through the train’s windows into where natural scenic routes and blue sky perfectly blend offers one a cinematic vision and by “losing of control over one’s senses could bring about a powerful flight of imagination,” quoting Jonas Larsen from “Tourism Mobilities and the Travel Glance: Experiences of Being on the Move” published in Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism.

Sunset in the town of Phrae. Photo taken by Kanlayakorn Pengrattana.

A couple from France I met during the trip shared their likes of exploring new places by train. They said it gives them opportunities to appreciate what they discovered along the way, both big and small elements of life in motion.

“This is our first time coming to Phrae. Previously, we have been to many places like Sukhothai, Ayutthaya, and Kanjanaburi. We love commuting by train as it shows us a lot of incredible landscapes. We love to know that we don’t have to rush to get to our destination, but we can simply enjoy everything the journey has to offer,” one of them said.

After hearing this, it inspired me to see that a train ride can be a destination in and of itself, just like how we live our lives or try to pursue happiness and success.

Certainly, we all want to get to the finish line, but instead of rushing and thinking about arrival all the time, why don’t we trust in the process and roll with life as a “single meaningful entity.”

We can be determined to achieve our goals and do our best in our responsibilities, however, it is important to detach and recover from all of that, glance out the window once in a while, and stop worrying about your next turn.


About Kanlayakorn Pengrattana

Kanlayakorn 'Princess' Pengrattana is a freelance writer at ScandAsia.

View all posts by Kanlayakorn Pengrattana

One Comment on “Aesthetic of train journey”

  1. Your article on the aesthetic of train journeys beautifully captures the essence of these experiences. The way you describe the scenery passing by, the rhythmic sounds of the train, and the sense of adventure that comes with each journey truly evokes a sense of wanderlust and nostalgia. I appreciate how you delve into the various elements that contribute to the aesthetic appeal, such as the unique architecture of train stations, the diverse landscapes, and the interactions with fellow passengers. It would be intriguing to explore the role of train journeys in literature, art, and film, as they often symbolize a metaphorical journey or serve as a backdrop for significant events. Additionally, discussing the historical and cultural significance of iconic train routes around the world could further enrich the narrative. Overall, your article not only highlights the aesthetic beauty of train journeys but also invites readers to appreciate the hidden charms of these timeless experiences. Well done!

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