With no set itinerary planned after seeing the Reclining Buddha, we impulsively decide to cross the river and take a walk to wherever it takes us.
Tha Tien Pier is the nearest spot to take a boat, and getting there feels like a mini-adventure of its own. We walk through rows of vendors selling dried sea food, curry paste, salted fish and other exotic foods I have never seen before. It’s Tha Tien Market, a wet market that has evolved from a community of floating households. Today it developed into clusters of roofed area which protects their produce from rain. but nonetheless, the floor is wet. We walk through the narrow paths, turning our bodies left and right to weave through the haggling crowds. The air is salty with smells of fish and squid. We see spices in bright orange, red, and brown. The deeper we walk into the market, the darker it becomes as the clusters of roofs become denser. After passing a few eateries- still in darkness – we pay a small fee for the boat from a scrawny man at a tiny cell-like ticket booth, pass the revolving barrier gate and voila! Back to sunlight.
A short one it may be, but the boat ride across Chao Phraya River is a welcome breather from the hustle and bustle of the crowded market few minutes ago.
The boat takes us to Wat Arun temple, but it’s what lies beyond this famous temple that steals my heart away.
We are met with an eerily quiet neighbourhood – lanes laid with well polished, pastel coloured stones, occasionally its peace interrupted by a motorbike or a tuk-tuk.
The main road (Wang Doem Road) is lined with small local eateries, as well as western cafes that feels artsy and hipster. We take a break in one of these small places and share a banana toast. Despite it being a simple toast with sliced bananas and syrup on top, it takes a long time to be prepared.
The whole neighbourhood is full of quirks. A canal is running in between rows of houses, and pots of plants are bursting everywhere, completely transforming the town made out of rusty corrugated metal roofs, iron pipes and grey concrete floor.
Despite all these signs of life – laundry hanging, aroma of food filling the air, young children occasionally appearing and disappearing – not much is moving in this quiet neighbourhood. Cars and bikes are parked on the side. There are a few street food stalls but has no customers. A handful of tourists like us are the only ones that’s making a noise here.
We wonder around this funny little place, taking in another side of Bangkok that is so different from what we’ve seen in the morning.
As if the area isn’t quirky enough, I find a wooden bird cage hanging on a tree, with a dried up bird as hard as a stone. Its feathers are too real for it to be a figurine, but its body is too stiff for it to be a real dead bird. It’s a quizzical, odd little town.
Day 1. 1 October 2015. Bangkok, Thailand