Messing About on the River - Hop-On, Hop-Off Chao Phraya Tourist Boat
After eleven years of living here, I'm turning into a proper tourist! For various reasons, we've had to keep popping up and down into town and when we do, manage to find something interesting to do to make the most of the day. In this case, we found ourselves on the hop-on, hop-off tourist boat and had a little trip up and down the river.
It was late in the day and we were sitting having a rather refreshing beverage. It was the usual Thai style, with loads of ice, sugar, evaporated milk and a drop of flavouring when we saw this boat go by and pull into the bank about 50 metres downstream from where we were. After crunching the last chunk of ice, we walked outside and right in front of us was a sign for the Chao Phraya Tourist boat which left from Phra Athit jetty.
The heat of the sun was waning as we took a closer look at the times and stops on the route through the heart of Bangkok and decided to take a little ride!
Although there were many places worth getting off to explore further, we simply fancied a ride from one end to the other and back, so bought the day ticket for just 120 Baht ($3.60 USD, £2.70 GBP).
You can actually use the boat as any other of the many water buses in Bangkok and just buy a single ticket to wherever you want to go but with the all-day ticket, you can do exactly what it says on the boat and get on and off anywhere you want, all day long!
We didn't have too long to wait as our trusty vessel pulled in and we hopped on. Although its beginning to noticeably improve, there aren't many tourists here yet and so we had the boat to ourselves and could wander freely about the two decks taking photos at will.
My wife hates the ocean but loves rivers and one of the problems with Bangkok is that it's built up right next to the water and lacks a really good 'promenade'. The Riva Surya was noted down as a place to stay or at least have a meal at the waterside restaurant one day as it has river frontage and perfect views across to the other bank.
Tah Maharaj again, looked like another visit in the future with what looked like a market and many eating and watering holes right on the edge of the water and has a famous (aren't they all!) temple just peering through the centre of the photo.
Just next to Tha Maharaj were some more traditional Thai homes. The riverside is full of contrast between old and new as each battles for its own little spot by the river. If you wonder why the river is so dirty, can you spot any main drainage from these homes?
Some may say 'shanty', an estate agent (realtor) may say 'detached riverside residence', but either way, what a wonderful place to live!
Another temple. I have a feeling this is Wat Pho but don't quote me on that!
On the opposite bank of the river are mainly Thai Royal Navy establishments including the officers training college and if you can zoom in this picture, you will see it was passing out day and the crowds of people are the families of the students all enjoying the parade, whilst in the foreground, we had a bit of boat racing going on as each boat (in exactly the same way the buses do here) tried to get to the passengers on the jetty first!
This is the small naval dockyard. I took the photo on the way back but it was getting a little dark by then!
This is the naval college on the right and another temple on the left of the Khlong. Getting bored with temple photos yet?
Sorry, that was a rhetorical question because I couldn't get away with not posting a picture of probably the oldest and most famous temple, Wat Arun. Admittedly, it looks rather shit in the day time, but at night becomes beautiful. Yes, that's a hint of a future post as tomorrow night, I'm actually staying downtown in a hotel right opposite. Feel free to mute me for a couple of weeks, I won't be offended, I'd mute myself if I could!
This is the Royal Seminary, which sits in the grounds of Rajini School, the first all Thai girl's school which was built in 1881 by King Rama V and was refurbished in 2005. Remember my recent posts about Neoclassical architecture of this period in Thailand? This is another!
It was built in memory of Queen Sunantha Kumariratana who drowned in the Chao Phraya on May the 31st 1880 aged just 19 years old in a boating accident as she was travelling to the [Royal Summer Palace at Bang Pa-In, remember this post?.
Queen Sunantha Kumariratana was the 50th child of King Mongkut (Rama IV) but one of three daughters born to Royal Princess Consort Piam. She went on to marry King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) as did both her younger sisters.
We will leave that there I think!
I'm not sure exactly where we were at this point but what a fabulous location that derelict building is in!
This is another place I plan to visit in the future. River City is an Arts, Antiques and cultural center that host exhibitions, seminars and all manner of culture related events but as well as just looking and learning, everything is on sale! There is also an arthouse cinema so I will definitely be checking this place out in the future as I am obviously the embodiment of culture and decorum!
Icon Siam. The most upmarket of upmarket shopping malls in Bangkok and in my opinion, one of the ugliest buildings! Never been, never will but if that's your bag, the boat does stop here.
Rather bizarrely, one of Bangkok's most well known and iconic buildings is the derelict skyscraper you see in this image. It is the famous 'Ghost tower' in Sathorn. Construction was started in 1990 but stopped when the company became bankrupt in the devastating collapse of the Thai economy in 1996. Since then its become a tourist attraction and up until 4 years ago, you could pay some locals 300Baht and they'd show you how to get in! As the staircases were all installed, you can actually walk to the very top but its incredibly dangerous. A number of foreigners have died after falling and there was at least one foreigner hung himself in there after which it was completely locked down. If you do a search online, there are many blog and YouTube videos about it.
Finally we arrived after about an hour at the end of the line, Asiatique which is an indoor market along with many restaurants and has an old sailing ship and a London Eye observation wheel. It is a little 'touristy' here but the market is reasonable and the restaurants are nice, albeit a little pricey.
As we were the only ones on the boat and didn't get off, the boat conductor asked whether we were going back to where we had started or intended to get off en route. The bike was parked close to Phra Athit so that's where we wanted to go back to. No problem. Good old Hop-on, Hop-off No.7 simply did a quick U-turn and bombed it back to where we had come from, without even bothering to stop anywhere. The journey that took over an hour one way, took twenty minutes on the way back!