Bangkok is a vast city, with up to 20 million people calling it home. Thais flock to the larger metropolises in search of work, which can be hard to find in the rural areas and provinces such as Roi Et and Surin.
It is a city which is both modern with skyscrapers, hotels, shops yet a side step can lead you to an area where people appear to be destitute living in squalid conditions, which is evident in the images on this post.
Yet…. If you look closely, despite the houses appearing to be on their last legs, they have satellite dishes and cars parked outside.
The Bangkok trip was undertaken for my grandson Jordan, who at the time was on holiday in Pattaya with me. I had only recently met Nom at a party in Rompho, which Jordan was present. So I decided to take the pair of them for an overnight stay in Thailand’s capital city, which would be a once in a lifetime event for the lad.
We arose early in the morning and grabbed a taxi from the hotel near the airport to the centre of the city. I had been told that you get nowhere by car in this city but the journey, which cost me under 600 baht or £12 took around 45 minutes to complete. The multi-laned roads that cut through the concrete jungle were quiet, meaning we were at the Grand Palace in record time.
However the planned visit to the palace was soon scuppered when I spotted the huge queues to gain entry and thus plan B was put in place. Actually there was no plan B, we grabbed breakfast and decided on a boat trip.
Now apart from the fact I knew I was at the Grand Palace in the heart of Bangkok and close to the Chao Phraya River, I really have no idea where this boat trip took us, so I cannot provide you with in depth analysis of the event, other than to say, it was an eyeopener.
The boats tend to be long-tail boats or Ruea Hang Yao as the locals would say and are propelled along by a huge engine with a long pole protruding for it. The engine itself is an inboard model and offers extremely good manoeuvrability in the murky waters of the rivers and canals. The drivers are skilful, which you will see undoubtedly should you venture out on a trip.
Your man at the helm will slow down so you can see the monitor lizards or snakes that bask in the sun.
Locals and tourists alike will happily pose for you if they see your camera as per the photo above.
Men can be seen fishing with what appears to be a stick and fishing line. Others have some form of rifle that they use to kill fish and the fish in these waters are big.
I saw men stripped to the waist and up to the chest in the filthy looking water. They were repairing boats or supports for houses as far as I could tell. Now knowing these waterways have monitor lizards swimming around and God knows what else, you could not pay me to enter the muddy torrents.
As I stated earlier, many of the river houses look like they could fall into the brine at any given moment. You wonder how they can withstand the wet season, when roads are flooded with the waters often measured in feet or metres. How these houses do not get washed away is beyond me. Of course maybe they do on occasion, I really have no idea.
Women paddle their floating market boats out to meet the long-tail, which will often be full of tourists, in the hope of making a sale or two. These should be avoided unless you really do want to waste your money.
They sell flags and hats or cans of beer. I was persuaded to purchase a can of beer for the driver of our boat. 200 Baht for a can of beer that costs 35 Baht in the shops. But I did insist on some photos of the lady first.
Our boat, which could probably hold 60 people, did the round trip with only the three of us on board.
The canopy which covers the vessel was down so I could stand up freely and take photos but this proved tricky at times and on more than one occasion, I almost found myself falling overboard, much to Jordan’s amusement.
One thing that will surprise you is how fast these river going crafts can go. The engines look archaic and you will be baffled as to how adept the man at operating the rudder is as he negotiates the tight bends and corners where canals meet, typically when other vessels are in close proximity.
we concluded our tip, which lasted around an hour or so with a tuk tuk ride to central Bangkok.
I am not really a fan of the three wheeled transport mainly due to the visibility from the rear. Three people in it means you have only one view so when armed with the camera, you are limited for shots. The roofs are low too which also hinders photography.
So if you are ever in Bangkok, forget about the bars for a few hours and go and take a river trip. It is a good experience, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
In general though, Bangkok is too busy for me. You seem to spend most of your time getting from A to B, once you are amongst the smaller streets. The city is very warm and humid, resulting in wet shirts galore.
We took the BTS train back to the airport and a taxi from there to the hotel.
More photos are drivel in my next post.