That Green Place Across The River In Bangkok

Posted: April 1, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

*I recently wrote about this subject in my magazine a few weeks ago but figured I’ll cover it here as well.

If you look at a satellite image of Bangkok you’d see that the majority of Thailand’s capital is covered in an almost endless sea of gray save for one area.

Some background information

The area in the map has been coined by several publications and websites as “Bangkok’s Green Lung”. People erroneously call this green peninsula Pra Pradaeng not realising that “Pra Pradaeng” refers to the entire district while just the green peninsula area is called Bang Krachao. In 1977 the government proposed a project of creating our version of Singapore’s Sentosa Island where we can have a environmentally friendly garden/city, thus the creation of Bang Krachao. This was done by enforcing some very strict building regulations that can be found printed on a large sign on the peninsula with legal guidelines stating that “no one is to build a building that covers more than 75% of its land”. Also according to the Bang Nampeung Tambol office, no buildings taller than 15m or industrial buildings are to be built either.

And no, the island is not inhabited by a bunch of hicks or tribal spear-wielding cannibals. The majority of the locals cross the river to work in Bangkok. Most of the people on Bang Krachao leave the area to go work. According to the tambon office, a large majority of the peninsula’s inhabitants are well-educated and they usually land office jobs across the river in Bangkok or a drive away in Samut Prakarn.


What to do on the peninsula

There’s tons to do on the peninsula especially if you’re sick of the redundant clubbing routine that Bangkok has to offer. Just don’t expect any chic puppy hotels catering to your pet chihuahua while you go get your nails blinged up.

Cycling

If you’ve got a thing for cycling and nature, your thing is about to have a menage trois orgasmic explosion through your skull. Concrete paths 120cm-150cm in width meander through the greenery of Bang Krachao giving you both a workout and some good old fashioned nature appreciation.  Be careful tho, the majority of these concrete paths have no railings and are elevated high above the ground or a swamp so falling down would probably either tear you a new rectum on your forehead or just outright kill the fuck out you.

Oh, and sometimes the paths are made from old wooden planks like he one above.

According to the Bangkok Post article by Supawadee Inthanong, over 50 species of wild birds, a multitude of tree species, and colourful reptiles are amongst some of the things you will see among the wildlife. On my visit I spotted the White-breasted waterhen, a flightless bird no bigger than a small chicken. That’s apparently what some google searches told me. Also, back to safety for a second, unless you’re gifted with night-vision just don’t try this cycling stuff in the dark because most of the paths are not well lit at night.

Sri Nakorn Khuan Khan botanical park

This park is over 200 rai (320,000 square metres, I think) in area. It’s a popular place for the locals to exercise in the morning but also quite the fun place to cycle. With large fish ponds, beautiful Thai buildings, tall shady trees and many types of plant species to observe (which I didn’t because I could barely tell the difference between trees and grass).

The Not-So-Floating Floating Market Is Where You Eat

Despite the name, the Bang Nam Pueng floating market is an outdoor shopping area on a concrete floor that is elevated above a body of water. The floating market part is a little canal on the side where vendors would pop up in their boats.


Above: only some parts of the market are floating, you’re not.

If you’re hungry this is the place to be. There is really a lot of food here. Thai noodle soup dishes such as yentafoh and namtok noodles, phad Thai and Hoi Tod, Isan food, Barbequed duck’s tongue, fresh fruits from local orchards, Mediterranean kebabs, Japanese takoyaki, Vegetarian food, Deep fried potato coil things, pink guava, curries and much more.

Above: pink guavas

Above: Kebabs have invaded Thailand


Shopping is also very worthwhile here. Things anywhere from locally made hand-crafted teakwood furniture to homemade herbal soaps to live turtles can be bought here. One product that the Bang Nam Pueng people are famous for producing is their succulent and locally grown mangoes.

Above: a kid at the market with some really fucking rad hair…

If shopping is really not your thing, you can rent wooden boats to go up and down the canal (B40 per boat), go on pony carriage rides (B100 per person) or get a traditional Thai massage (B120 per hour).


Pictured: not a pony ride or a Thai massage.

All market activities are available only on the weekends so don’t waste your “sick day” from the office on a closed market.

For more info call the Bang Name Peung Tambon office at 02-819-6762.

Siamese Fighting Fish Gallery (SFFG)

At soi Petchahueng 33 I ran into this interesting little gem, tributary gallery to Siamese fighting fish. This isn’t just some small hole in a wall, it’s an absolutely gorgeous huge piece of property with a very beautifully manicured Thai-styled garden, and Ayutthaya-era styled architecture.

The gallery was started recently by the People’s Integrite Development foundation and their president, Peerapong Panompongphandh. The SFFG is designed to be a sanctuary that highlights on the importance natural conservation and the role of the Siamese fighting fish as a Thai heritage. There is also a function hall right by the riverside that anyone can rent for private events.

Within the gallery are two Thai styled buildings, one has the different types of Siamese fighting fishes from around the world and the other houses some of the local fishes caught from the river proving once and for all that things still live there.

Above: “I’m the mother fucking Juggernaut biiaatch!”

Above: this featherback probably wonders what the hell he’s doing in this tank of very clear water.

In one of the rooms is a large tank. The tour guide tells me that it’s where they keep some of the fighting fishes. I was all pumped up. Excited to see a tank full of fishes engaging in some all-out Lord of the Rings level brawl. By the time I got there the tank was empty save for a few innocent guppies.

“Um… so where are the fishes?” I asked the nice tour lady.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, um…. I can’t see any of them…”

“What!?”

“Yeah…”

“Oh my…”

They had killed each other off and there was nothing left to see. “Oops”, said my tour guide. Sadly this is not a joke.

Above: an empty tank


The Gallery has only been around for three months and hasn’t decided on a cover charge so my visit was free. Chaiyo!

The gallery is open every day but Wednesday from 10am-5pm. For more info go to www.fightingfishgallery.com


Fireflies and Lodging

Fireflies still exist in the greater metropolitan area of Bangkok and they fly along the riverbanks of Bang Krachao. The best way to see them is to stay on one of the many houses along the banks. Since you probably don’t own one of these houses you can stay at one of the many homestays available by contacting Bang Nam Peung village elder (poo yai baan) khun Arporn. With homestays you pay B350 to get riverside lodging, breakfast and dinner while staying at a local’s house to see how things are done. The rooms are not air-conditioned but are the best way to watch the fireflies. While homestaying, rules must be observed. No rude revealing clothing, no rowdiness, no loud noises or walking around late at night and no alcohol.

Above: A sign.

Above: Slumber party at the home stay!

Above: riverside picnic table at the home stay.


Alternative lodging can be found at the Poo Yai Aoy’s Long Stay located deep within the peninsula. Air-conditioned private rooms can be rented for B700-800 a night. While it’s not on the riverside, fireflies have been known to visit here.

Above: a picture of your long stay room

Poo yai baan Arporn 089-807-2501

Poo yai baan Aoy 086-882-4753

Eating outside the market

If you are looking for a proper sit down restaurant with a name you’d be looking forever. According to the Bang Nampeung Tambol office, the people of Bang Krachao all eat at home so there are no restaurants except for the dining areas available at the floating market on the weekends where you can have an outdoor dining experience on floor mats and short tables along the riverside.

However, should you find yourself wandering on the island on a weekday, there are still places to eat. Many families open their kitchens to the public and you can go and order some food there. There’s also a small place to eat basic Thai home-style dishes at the main Bang Krachao pier.


Getting there

The best way to get to the Phra Pradaeng side from Bangkok is to cross the river via boat from one of two docking points. It is possible to drive there but the directions can be a little bit confusing.

Boat rides from the Wat Klong Toey Pier costs B5 and is literally a hole in the wall of a townhouse building deep within the Wat Klong Toey nai community. Boats from Klong Toey will take you to Tha Bang Krachao, the main pier but it is at opposite ends from the floating market.

The Bangna pier is much easier to find and is located at the south end of the Bangna-Traad road. It has much bigger boats that are more bicycle friendly and goes to Wat Bang Namphueng Nok pier.

Boat rides across usually cost B4-5 but if you are docking from one of the smaller ports and bringing a bicycle with you it will cost you B20.

Driving there: Entrance to the Bang Krachao peninsula is only accessibl from the sounthern end. Take the express way towards the Rama IX and make your exit at Suksawat road. Continue along Suksawad road (highway number 303) until you reach the T-junction. Turn left and go along the Nakhon Kuan Khan Road (highway number 3104). At the next T-junction take another left onto Phetchahung Road and travel for another 8-10km and you will be in Bang Krachao.

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