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Bangkok, Thailand Part Three...River houses and the Pak Klong Flower Market

Sunday, January 17, 2010

As we started up the river, I began to notice this strange contrast between 5 Star hotels and run-down homes that lined the sides. I am always fascinated by living conditions in other parts of the world. It seemed that every inch of the waterfront was taken up by some type of real estate.

Home along the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok

Rotting posts seemed to barely keep some of the homes from falling into the water, while hanging laundry was the obvious similarity between neighbors. Now, before I go on...I want to make it clear that I really, really love the Thai people. There is such a warmth, openness and politeness that is comforting when visiting Thailand. One of the common gestures is that the Thai people place their hands in a praying position next to their chest in order to express thanks, appreciation or as a warm greeting. You will notice this most times when you are a store, restaurant or meeting. I would say it's equivalent to hand shaking, but it seems much kinder than that.

The Thai people are soft-natured, well mannered and always willing to help. As always, there are a few exceptions to every rule, but for the most part, these people make us (Americans) seem brash.  Thai people love to laugh and smile, so it's not difficult to make friends and connect with these gentle souls.

Homes along the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok

I'm not trying to make you feel sorry for these people living in these homes along the river. I honestly don't think it's out of the ordinary. These homes are probably just weathered and worn over the years and may not constitute poverty by Thailand standards. I just find them fascinating to see and photograph.

Homes along the Chao Phraya River

In the next photo here, you can see that most people have satellite dishes attached to the sides apartments (In hot Pink, of course). A small cafe sits at the bottom of this photo.

Homes along the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok

Okay, so let's talk about some of the stops you can experience along the way. We actually got on and off at many different places and I will try to show you some photos of a few. I have to say though, that if someone has a very difficult time walking (maybe with a cane or something) then this tour boat might not be the best idea. Whenever the boat pulls up to each stop, it bumps against the edge a bit and kind of bounces up and down due to the waves. At times, you have to jump a little to get your balance on shore. It's not a problem for regular footed people, but it might be for someone who has walking problems.

Anyway,  even though many of the neighborhood stops you get off on might look a bit run down, it's quite safe. You probably wouldn't want to roam around everywhere after dark, but during the day, there should never be a problem. These stops started to show me the Bangkok I expected to see. Not the upscale modern version I first saw. I'm not going to be able to remember the names of these stops, so you might have to explore on your own to find them.

Temple at the Memorial Bridge Pier

One of the places I liked a lot was the Pak Kong Flower Market. When you first get off at this pier, you will see a tree linked street that you can access by walking to your right and then shortly turning left up the street. You should be able to see the temple tower (in photo above) to know you're going in the right direction. I am taking you this way so that you can see the Temple before you go to the Flower Mart.
This Temple is next to impossible to photograph, due to the trees, gates and everything else that gets in the way. It's important to know that you can't just walk into a Temple wearing shorts or tank tops. You have to have on long pants and be dress appropriately. This is strictly enforced at every temple and the palace.

Temple at the Memorial Bridge Pier

Once you see the Temple, you can walk to your left and see the street entrance to the Flower Market. The entire street is lined with stores. Be careful when crossing the streets to get there. Like Vietnam, you're kind of at your own risk. There are crosswalks, but people just don't like to stop their cars or motorcycles, so if this scares you, then try to walk next to a local right when they cross...they'll understand.

Vendor at the Pak Kong Flower Market in Bangkok

There are literally thousands of flowers along this street with many different vendors that even stretch into the alleys.

Vendors at the Pak Kong Flower Market in Bangkok

I didn't get a great set of pictures of flowers, but you have to trust me that there are lots of them everywhere. There are also a few produce stands too.

Produce at the Pak Kong Flower Market in Bangkok

The street is pretty busy with lots of vendors, buyers and delivery people walking around.

Vendors at the Pak Kong Flower Market in Bangkok

This yellow flower was in abundance on this particular day and being made into a wreath of sorts to be worn. From what I understand, it had to do with a Buddhist "Holiday" that was approaching and many people bought them for this purpose.

Yellow flowers for Buddhist Holiday

The area is safe, as there were all kinds of tourist and police around keeping watch. There are also some small cafes on the sides streets to eat at if you're hungry, but I'll talk about them in another post.

Thai Police on regular patrol

I would say that you could spend an hour here just looking around because of the many blocks of vendors. The river trip is generally something you want to do each day, since you could spend hours along the various stops. And as always, there are many more pictures of Bangkok in my Flickr photo album, which can be accessed HERE.

To Be Continued....


lechua said...

hi there, just came across your blog from the Photobloggers Group at TravelBlogExchange. Amazing travel posts in Asia you've got here. I just got back from bkk last month and I noticed the same in contrast between the high and low end living by the river.

Luther Bailey said...

Hi Lechua! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read. Also, thanks for the nice compliment! As you probably know, travel blogs are a LOT of work, but I'm trying to keep it going and trying to remember every detail. LOL

Rob said...

Some great information and beutiful photos giving us some great ideas for our upcoming holiday in Bangkok and Koh Samui in Jan 2012.
Thanks so much!
Keep up the great work!

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