We had some trickier-to-get-to places we wanted to see in Bangkok – the Artists’ House, and Khlong Lad Mayom, for example. So on our third full day in Bangkok, we decided to hire a small teak boat to leisurely to head to these few places as well as explore the places along the route. We first met up with Nui, our guide, before taking a cab down from our hotel to the hidden off boat pier.
The boat pier itself was situated in a quieter more local area in the midst of floating shops and homes linked to the city by a small bridge. Lots of local homes lined up the canal on our route to the different temples, and orchid farms. It was definitely an interesting to see snippets of life by the river with postmen riding on their little boats to drop off mail, locals on boats buying their necessities at a little floating convenience store, and on a weekday we were told we might even catch a school boat that transports the kids to and fro school. Not all homes by the river are owned by locals though. We spotted some grander homes by the river with foreign flags hung in the front. Not a bad retirement location, I guess.
Wat Pak Nam Temple
Our first stop in the morning was at the Wat Pak Nam Temple. It’s a very local temple – we were the only visitors there. We chanced upon a monk’s ordination – lots of happy family members taking photos with the new monk, and food stalls set up with food donated by the families in celebration of the event.
Wat Pa Choeng Lane
Next stop was Wat Pa Choeng Lane, a temple that is the exact opposite of the first we saw. While the earlier temple was more vibrant, larger, and has grander monuments of Buddha, this temple is far more modest, simple, and tranquil. This “Forest Temple” which was surrounded by trees, and the monks’ self-grown vegetable gardens, is focused on meditation, explaining its simplicity.
Khlong Lad Mayom
We were sufficiently hungry at this point and were only too happy to make a stop at the floating market. We got off our boats to explore the greater part of the market, which is dedicated to only food and no touristy souvenir shops (yay), before buying a little bit of something from the stalls and setting our food down at a table. It is impossible to not find something you’d like to eat there. From our visit, it looked like they had every single Thai dish, snack, and dessert from the many stalls there. We settled with some meats with glutinous rice, pomelo, spicy fish cakes, sate, fresh sweet mango sticky rice (D’s favourite dessert ever), and a huge banana pancake (Nui did her thing, and charmed her way into getting us a supersize portion). And all in local prices. Yay to non tourist traps. Speaking of that, we didn’t see any foreigners there, aside from ourselves. We do wish sometimes to have stomachs with bottomless pits, so as to be able to eat more.
Orchid & Pandan Nursery
Time was still on our side, so, stuffed and satisfied, we popped by the Orchid Nursery on our way back down to the final stop. Lots of various hybrids bred there, and we even met the owner who thought I was Thai, again. Especially with my wai greetings. But no matter, people seem to warm up to me faster when they think I’m local, and I totally and shameless invite this attention. (~lol)
Artist’s House (Baan Silapin)
This was our final stop. The tiny little place (around 200 years old) is filled with fun artsy things, has a cafe, and art gallery, which are all worth the visit itself, but we were there for the puppet troupe. The first twenty minutes of the performance was an introduction to puppetry but it was all in Thai. The rest of the performance was also in Thai, of course, but at least we were able to get more out of it, from the music and the movements of the puppet. The jokes were pretty slapstick and that sort of humour usually transcends all language boundaries. After the performance, you get to “meet” the puppets up close and personal as they go around giving everyone puppet hugs and kisses. The puppeteers make their movements look so fluid, you almost forget the puppets are not real.
And that marked the end of our trip in the canals. We had to get on this little open bus ferries passengers from the bridge to the main street, take another taxi down to a BTS station before we can finally start making our way back to the hotel. We absolutely loved the trip. Seeing life along the canals was very different from just experiencing the city life in Bangkok. The canals and river were after all, a very important part of Bangkok’s history. Especially for travellers who’re visiting Bangkok for the umpteenth time, something like this should definitely be on the to-do list.
How to get to Artist’s House: Take a taxi. Honestly. There’re no other public transportation nearby. You can tell a taxi to go to Charoen Sanitwong Soi 3. Go all the way to the end and you will see a 7-11. Alight and walk straight through the small alley, cross a little bridge and turn left. Artist’s House should be the end of the row of little shops. It’s quite complicated but definitely worth the visit.
More details: Thai Canal Tours