Tuesday, February 27, 2007

One Day in Bangkok - Chao Phraya River

I've had a lot of posts about India. That wasn't the end of the trip though. I had a connecting flight in Thailand, so I opted to drop by and check out the city for a day and a half. I loved it, and thought it was amazingly photogenic, despite the intermittent gloomy skies. I'll have a few posts about what I saw there.

This first post is about the Chao Phraya River. It winds its way through Bangkok, acting as a tourist, historic, religious, and commercial center to the city. There's a series of river taxis, which are full of tourists, working class, and a few Buddhist monks (who get free transport). There's also private tourist boats, large and small, here's a small one:

There's about fifteen stops along the river, it's a pretty convenient system. The inconvenience is that the boats are few and far between. I waited more than twenty minutes, it wouldn't be so bad except for the hot sun coming out, while I waited on the pier. This station has a little roof, they aren't all so Thai looking. I expect the nice new building gets a nice new station:

I don't know about tides, or what's normal, but some of the stations I used were flooded. There was a pathway of sandbags to cross, which kept my feet partially dry. Some of the houses I passed by were similar, with their ground level half-flooded. I saw people standing out back of their houses, hanging clothes or whatever, in six inches of water!

I walked alongside the river for a while - in fairness, only a very few houses were flooded like this. It was mostly older style of houses, nothing fancy, I found the area very charming.

Here's another picture of that:

I mentioned the Buddhist monks get free transportation on the river taxis. That especially comes into play because of all the large old Buddhist temples alongside the river. I'll have more to say about that later, these temples are among the most amazing I've ever seen, and there's one after the other. In the meantime, check out both the beautiful high-roofed temple in the background, and the cargo ship in the foreground:

Obviously the boats aren't very big, and lot of the bridges across the river have a very, very low clearing. But the sheer quantity of the boats is dizzying, the immediate reaction is wondering how they go more than five minutes without crashing into each other.

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