Bangkok and the Boat Ride
For the uninitiated, I must suggest take a long tail-boat and see around Bangkok. Life is beautiful and one gets to see the quaint side of Bangkok along with interesting things along the waterway. In my first visit to Bangkok last year, I was a happy person to spend a couple of hours doing it myself. There were no jams and no congestion and the timeless charm of the city along the canal (klong) kept me intrigued. As we swayed on the water, the photo-enthusiast in me did not miss the chance to click random pictures. It added many perspectives to my trip. Here, take a virtual ride with me.
I was surprised to learn that Bangkok and its canals have thrived since 18th century and for a long time there was no road transport there. The city has an extensive network of boats and ferries and a number of people use it for their daily commutation. The Bangkok Ferry Guide helped me with the below information on how the city’s water portion was divided into three parts.
- The main Chao Phraya river
- Klong Saen Saeb makes its way across Bangkok city from east to west.
- Klongs of Thonburi is the network of canals (klongs) that thrives on the opposite side of the river.
We hoped on our long tailed, colorful boat. We were four of us and we had the boat to ourselves. These are wooden boat that run on motor. Bangkok bustles with activity but if you wish to spend the day far from the maddening crowd, this is the best place to be. If the weather is hot, its gonna be a relief with the breeze playing with your hair. The skyline, the attractions and the local life will cross your way.
The highlight of the trip was observing the elements of life that flourish around these canals. The greenery, the wall art, temples, shrines, restaurants, schools and the floating markets kept me curious and interested all along. Everything around was peaceful, picturesque and informative. At some places, there was trash in the water but thankfully we did not find any stinky point since there was no stagnation of water.
Its not just one canal but a network of canals that one sails through one after the other. You must keep the camera going. The other travel writers along with me made lovely videos too. I come from a city which had no river and thus for me these glimpses of a different kind of life were absolutely worth it.
River has played an integral role in Thai life and culture for centuries and thus many temples in Bangkok are located along waterways. We motored across many colorful houses and temples on the way. I wouldn’t say this is the best way to explore Bangkok but I would definitely say it is one of the ways to discover it at a calm and relaxed pace. And if you have a friendly guide, you will love the interesting stories and facts about the Thai culture.
A long tail boat is beautiful in itself. Painted in pretty and vibrant colors, its gorgeously colorful.
Wow, there was some lovely art on the walls. I had definitely not expected to find this. Each of the paintings were beautiful and meaningful. Art always gets my eye and I must appreciate the artists who did this. I mean as a tourist, this was a such a lovely surprise to discover.
The brightly painted homes and outbuildings caught my interest every now and then. Each house was different from the other. The wooden planks, the support, the shape of the window, the hanging plants, the pots, the balcony, the clothes hung for drying, the house as a whole had many noticeable aspects. It really helped me to reflect on life in a better way.
Here we saw the houses how they stand on the water and how life is for many people who have been living here and their generations for hundreds of years! We also talked about how the Bangkok floods of 2011 and how people living in these areas had been worst affected. Most of them had to rebuild. In fact we also saw some houses which were dilapidated and in poor condition.
Every turn brought a new sight and there was no rest to our curious minds. Our guide really had to cope up because we had too many questions for her. She got her breaks when we were distracted with people waving at us. It was lovely to see the children smile and chuckle and also sprinkle water on us. Why did they sprinkle water? Because we were there in Bangkok at the Songkran time.
This was an interesting stop. Our guide suggested that we buy some bread loafs from the lady in the picture and offer to the fishes. It was considered to be auspicious. We did as suggested and the fishes jumped in to eat. It was a joyful sight. No doubt, nature always wins over man-made.
While the fishes jumped out to eat the bread loaf, we clicked pictures. These fishes are known as cat fish. This memory has definitely stayed with me all along. Another boat also stopped to see the excitement. Later, I read that feeding the fishes is a loved activity in Thailand and there are fish feeding stations near temples.
There were big houses, small houses, some were crippled. It looked as if some people dint have the funds to maintain it. Yes, so we did do the poorer section of the city this day. Discovering the glamorous section of the city was fun but I was happy to find these areas as well. They were more real. They were fascinating in their own way. One gets to peep into a different side of Bangkok.
That is me, all happy and chirpy in the boat. I was loving this canal adventure. There were hardly any moment when I felt scared. The boat was well balanced by our weights on either side. Honestly, whenever I am around water, I definitely feel uncomfortable because I do not know swimming but this wasn’t scary at all.
And after spending around two hours on this boat, I can definitely say you must do the tour of Thonburi’s narrow waterways in Bangkok.
Chinese New Year 2016 falls on Thursday 8th February and it is a great time to be in Bangkok.