Friday, April 26, 2024

Boats Abound In Bangkok

One of the most fun things on our trip to Asia was all of our adventures on the water. The Bangkok Peninsula Hotel is right on the Chao Phraya River and it had a fabulous shuttle boat which took us to various places. The best was to the incredible IconSiam mall. 
This is a mall of all malls. Thai malls are fabulously busy and bustling, where families, young people, tourists go en masse. One reason is obviously the air-conditioning. It IS hot in Bangkok, but the malls also offer shopping, many food choices, sometimes entertainment, all with the opportunity to get out of the humidity. 
IconSiam has great food stalls, beautiful crafts, clothing and jewelry AND restaurants both inside and outside on gorgeous plazas and terraces. 


One more thing about IconSiam. On the top floor is an absolutely gorgeous indoor waterfall coming from the ceiling. It changes colors and designs and spells out words! It’s really impressive!

We had a lovely dinner outside at Baan Khanitha, overlooking the river.
Purple flower-shaped steamed chicken dumplings

Stir fried chicken and cashew nuts

Fried rice with corn and vegetables

Stir fried lobster with red curry sauce

Sticky mango rice with coconut ice cream
Anyhoo, one night we were coming back on the Peninsula shuttle boat and we turned around and looked! Fireworks! They lasted the entire 5 minutes of the ride, plus they went on after we disembarked at the hotel. They were supposedly in honor of a wedding. Wow!

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The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is a popular place to visit when you’re in Bangkok. We eased ourselves into a longtail boat (not the easiest thing in the world…) and floated along the canal through an actual market on the water. Parts are quite narrow and there are purveyors in boats selling everything from souvenir type goods, clothing, tea, fruit, cooked food and really anything in between.

The market is on both sides of the canal, which you can also visit once you’ve left the boat. As you float along, you see snake charmers every once in awhile. It’s okay to take their pictures from the boat, but once you’re ashore and walking through the market, they expect a little payoff. I certainly wouldn’t argue with a man and a snake!

In addition to the market, we also passed through many sections of rural river towns with waterside (and kind of homespun) personal temples.
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We took another longtail boat on the Klong Bangkok Noi, literally 'Small Bangkok Canal”. Bangkok is also called the Venice of the west and this boat ride certainly demonstrated the importance of the Thai waterways. We saw many public temples along the canal and some quite elaborate temples that people had set up outside their own homes. 


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One other interesting transportation topic, this time about a train…
Maeklong Railway Market is a fascinating market that has an actual working railroad running RIGHT THROUGH IT. There are packed-to-the-gills stalls of different sundries – food, fruit, straw bags, lots of stuff, that lead right up to the train tracks. I’m not kidding! The market AND all the people who work there and those who frequent the market are mere centimeters from the actual tracks and, thus, 
centimeters from the train itself. Each stall has an awning which overhangs the edge of the tracks. AS the train is coming (and not a second before!) they take up the awnings and fold them away from the tracks, so the train can actually pass by. This happens 8 times a day. It’s very popular with tourists, who also ride the train to watch as the train tracks transform from a busy market thoroughfare to an actual roadway for the moving train.

This guy running in front of the train is too much!

It was pretty gobsmacking.

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