Yesterday we got the chance to see a very different side of Bangkok. We took a trip out of the crammed city centre full of high rise buildings, traffic congested streets, to take a tour of the canal waterways on the western side of the Chao Phraya River.
We were met by our lovely guide Nadia early in the morning, and we jumped in a taxi to whizz across the city to Wutthakat station where we were to board our little teak boat for our tour.
When we arrived at the temple pier, we were so lucky to arrived at the same time as a ceremony was taking place. We got to meet a young man who was just being ordained as a monk. It was fascinating! Nadia explained how most men in Thailand become a monk for a short period of time at some point in their lives to practice this way of life and learn the Buddhist teachings. Interestingly most families won’t allow their daughters to marry a man who hasn’t done so!
So feeling pretty lucky to see their celebrations we boarded our boat and set off down the narrow canal.
The canals are nicknamed ‘the Venice of the East’, I wouldn’t say it had the elegance of Venice but it was full of eastern charm. Wooden houses lined the canals, many balanced precariously on wooden stilts in the mud, other on concrete posts, all in various stages of togetherness and some looked ready to slide into the canal!
As we traveled along the water, we were greeted by friendly smiles and waves from family’s enjoying the slow Saturday morning, clothes hung up to dry in the warm air, rows of flowerpots hung from corrugated tin roofs, and it was just so peaceful.
We stopped to visit the Wat Packnam temple with its beautiful painted ceilings and solid gold Buddhas, it was truly spectacular unfortunately the girls were feeling a little “templed out” and restless so Nadia suggested a popular activity for the Thai children, feeding the temple fish!
So after a short ride down a few more canals we reached a stop where we could release some eels for good luck and buy bread to feed the hundreds of fish! Now the fish weren’t little fish….they were huge and there were so many, each battling to get a munch out of the chunks of bread the girls were throwing in! This caused lots of splashing of water with their tails, which made all the kids laugh!
Afterwards we took a 40 minute trip along the different canals making our way up to the orchid farm. On the way we spotted water lizards swimming in the green water, small boats ladened with all sorts of fruits and vegetables making their way to the market. Around one corner a gaggle of children splashed and played happily in the water under their house. Everyone seemed so happy and chilled without a care in the world!
The orchid farm was beautiful, such an array of beautiful orchid colours, sizes and scents! The girls enjoyed some local fruits off the tree, no idea what they were, something like a gooseberry but they devoured them enjoying the sharp taste!
Afterwards we returned to our boat and set off to the floating market for lunch! Here Nadia took us from stall to stall explaining all the dishes and food on offer! So much more than pad Thai and green/red curries! The market was a feast of exotic flavours and aromas, and the variety was vast! Thankfully Nadia kindly picked out dishes for us, far too many, but it was amazing to try all these different freshly cooked flavours….and the girls got their favourite mango and sticky rice again! We left the maket with very full tummies!
On the way back we stopped at an artists house on the side of the canal, to catch a traditional Thai puppet show. Although it was mostly in Thai it was fun to watch and the comedy came across in the actions of the talented puppet artists!
On the way home Nadia gave the girls masks to remember their day, such a kind and sweet offering! I’m so pleased we got to see this traditional side of Bangkok, we will remember it always.