The Green Lungs of Bangkok are a fantastically lush peninsula filled with friendly people and interesting pathways for biking. It was a place for deep breaths as we took in the greenery, gulped in air at some narrow elevated stretches and called back the “HELLOs” to the people in the neighborhoods.
We accessed Bang Krachao by a small long tail boat, operated by an older woman. I did my best attempt to fall, rather then step into the boat, but with the help of my friend, managed to stay out of the water. The short trip across dropped us off at a quiet pier where we rented bikes, the daily rental a mere 100 Baht ($3.35), each. Biking, walking, or scooting are the main forms of transportation and while there are a few larger roads, the paths we sought were just large enough for one comfortably and two only when required.
We departed the dock on a large road with walls of beautiful greenery to each side, more than I’d seen even in Bangkok’s parks. Tall colorful trees and thick bushes hugged the side of the road and slowly structures emerged. With a map, we headed towards the Bangnumphung Floating Market and found another pier instead. The map was not easy to follow but with no place to actually be, the goal was to see it all and get lost. For once, the constant noise was not from vehicles but birds, the wind, or the quiet tones of our bicycles as we pedaled along.
A few additional turns lead us to our first elevated pathway. While I “knew” these pathways were skinny and about three feet off the ground, I still had to give myself a pep talk, reminding myself I’d been biking for years. I wanted to keep taking photos but a stronger desire to stay out of the water emerged. The lack of rails added to the sense of insecurity but while our little gang was wobbly to start, we grew accustomed to the trails and reveled in the freedom and the adventure.
The trail took us over water ways with coconut trees rising up from the ground and countless other plants and trees I could not name. We would be riding quietly for long stretches then reach houses or shops and children and adults alike would call out ‘Hello!’, which we would reciprocated. They always sounded so happy and waved which truly delighted me. We made this trip about two months after being in Thailand and these tiny connections were priceless to me.
Reaching the market we found crowded stalls and many people taking advantage of the weekend goods. We wandered through the various booths, with items for sale, including unrefrigerated sushi (ekk!), fried taro (yum!) and many other sweets. Clothing and other knick knacks dotted the other stalls under the large canopy. We settled a bit too soon on a place to eat for soon we were upon the narrow canal which was full of restaurants with diners seated on the ground around low tables (shoes removed). The walk showed us tiny shops for souvenirs and vendors touting the wonder of “Gac Juice” made from an interesting looking orange fruit. We sadly didn’t try that or the roasted duck beaks though. (We are so boring!) Likewise, we didn’t take time to rent a duck boat (seems cruel in retrospect) and instead headed back to the road.
With some souvenirs and a sizable bag of fried taro sticks (for energy!), we rode comfortably in our ability, headed to the Bangkok Tree House, a beautiful natural hotel on the water. And then the most interesting pathway, elevated at least six feet over the water with snapping crocodiles below, appeared. Ok, maybe no crocodiles but our fear of falling was at its highest as there were no guards and no trees enclosing us to provided a sense of safety, just open water. Being the brave souls that we are, we remained on our bikes, holding our breaths. Once on the other side, we stopped for a round of high fives and further inspection. This delay allowed us to be quickly shown up by a local woman on a scooter who motored over it as if it was the easiest thing to do. So much for our courage merit badges!
With our heroic task over, we took the opportunity to relax a moment at the beautiful Bangkok Tree House. We each ordered icy drinks and rested in their elevated open dining area, beneath a design of cut bamboo pipes. The rooms comprising the hotel all looked very cool from the outside and one had a beautiful wall decorated with driftwood. They are said to be inspired by Thoreau’s Walden so I daydreamed a bit about staying there, but while the funky hotel is very cool and eco-friendly, prices start at 6000 Baht ($200), a night, so it will wait for another time. The drinks were delicious though and definitely made a great stop!
We ended our day with a quick trip through the area’s pretty park, lovingly manicured, around a pond. The entire city was like a park to me so it seemed almost unnecessary but provide places for people to sit and enjoy the water and the sky. Our last stop, the Siamese Fighting Fish Gallery, acts as a museum providing information about the fish and their connection with Thai culture. Many beautiful fish were on display but as with the rest of the day, the nature was my focus and the grounds there were lovely and relaxing. A peaceful end to a wonderful day.
Whenever I need to run away and just breath deeply, I will definitely go back to Bang Krachao. It is one of the most peaceful places I have found in Bangkok and even thought we went on a Sunday, the roads were mostly deserted, leaving us to this glorious quiet. It rates as a favorite place in Thailand.
Few more images from the day: