Today we got a tiny bit off the beaten track and took a self-guided walking tour of old Bangkok. In retrospect, an absolutely brilliant idea when the temperature is in the mid-90’s. But we had fun in spite of the heat and humidity.
But before we could start our walk, we had to take the skytrain to the Khlong Saen Saep express boat. An express boat you say? Sounds fancy, right? Well, if by fancy you mean this:
then you would be right. The boat pulls up to the pier, engine still running, you cross your fingers that it is the right boat, and you just jump on anywhere you can find room and hope the boat doesn’t move too far out while you are in the air. Repeat the process when you reach your stop. It now makes perfect sense why there are tons of flip flops floating in the water around Bangkok…. But the absolute best part is when the roof drops down several feet without warning, forcing everyone who is standing into a squat. And good thing it does, as the boat goes under some pretty low bridges. Riding this boat was one of our favorite experiences in Bangkok so far.
After our boat adventure we climbed to the top of the Golden Mount. Apparently, long ago, King Rama III wanted to build a large temple but it collapsed into a heap and a small chedi was built on the top of the resulting mound.
After climbing up and down the hill, we walked over to Wat Ratchanadda, another Buddhist temple.
After that, we walked through some small alleys where craftsmen make alms bowls for monks. We got a bit lost, and wandered through a couple of tiny little alleys, but did get to see some bowls being made. Then it was off to yet another Buddhist wat, this time Wat Suthat.
Another impressive structure, but perhaps even more impressive is the Giant Swing that sits just outside the wat:
I know, you are thinking it isn’t much to look at. But, apparently, in the old days, teams of men would swing from this and try to grab a bag of coins at the top of one of the poles with their teeth. It isn’t clear to me precisely how this worked, and apparently it didn’t work all that well, because after a few too many deaths, they stopped swinging from the Giant Swing and now it sits in the middle of traffic.
We wrapped up the day by stopping by Khao San Road. This is a backpacker’s mecca, with everything and anything a backpacker could want. You name it, we saw it, everything from t-shirts and flip flops to guitars. But, more importantly for us, cheap drinks after walking 5 or so miles in the Bangkok heat.