Once the boy’s cousins (Zac & Indi) returned from their holiday in Bali, they had plenty of time to spend with them as they were on a mid-term break from school. So it was perfect timing….
Besides trips to playgrounds, bicycling and scooting around the Moo Baan (a gated housing estate), playing games, swimming and having general cousin fun, we also managed to see a few more things during our second week in Bangkok.
Bang Kachao/ The Green Lungs of Bangkok
After seeing our fellow Kiwi travellers, Kiwis Fly The Coop, exploring this little treasure of green space within the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, we decided to check it out as well for a few hours of cycling and exploring.
We headed to the little boat pier at Khlong Toei – we had to be careful when booking our Uber as there is a Khlong Toei Pier and a Khlong Toei Port and some maps have the names interchanged; so a location confirmation with Jess had us totally on the right page. We needed the location next to Wat Khlong Toei Nok and closest to the previously mentioned and visited, Khlong Toei Markets. After navigating the usual Bangkok traffic, we walked towards the pier which was under water in parts as Bangkok had been having some quite heavy rain during the evenings. We navigated across some makeshift walkways just above the lapping water and paid 40 THB/$1.60 NZD for the four of us to take the quick longboat ride across to Bang Kachao. We stepped off the boat, walked up the ramp and were right at a bike hire spot (M-Bike). Hire costs were 30 THB/$1.20 NZD per hour or 80 THB/$3.20 NZD for the day, so we arranged three bikes from their large selection (Braxton getting a free ride with Logan), were given a basic map of the area and bottle of water each.Bang Kachao is an artificial island formed by a bend in the Chao Phraya River and a canal at its western end. Often referred to as ‘The Green Lungs of Bangkok’ it is definitely a little oasis in the heart of the crazy city of Bangkok. There are some narrow, raised paths you can cycle along but we decided to stick to the roadways. All the roads we went on had dedicated bike lanes on both sides and the vehicle traffic was pretty light and slow and very courteous to cyclists, so we had no issues.
We headed towards the Siam Fighting Fish Gallery and as we cycled up we saw the main gate was open and the sign stated they opened at 10am, it was just a few minutes before this so we entered but couldn’t find anyone around to speak to. We could see quite a few jars lined up on many shelves under a building but there didn’t appear to be much else and without anyone around to help we decided to cycle on. We continued along the roads and didn’t worry too much about which direction we went as there was plenty to see. Mangroves that lined the road, numerous noises that sounded like water monitors splashing about, locals going about their day, house construction, flood cleanups, amazing smells of food being cooked on the roadside (that makes you feel incredibly hungry), beautiful temples and plenty of lush greenery.After a tasty lunch break, we finished our ride by exploring through the Si Nakhon Khuen Khan Park and Botanical Gardens. This is a large area with dedicated cycle/walking lanes around lakes and a plenty of green spaces and we continued to see others on bicycles (both rentals or privately owned) or in bicycle tour groups throughout the day. It is obviously a popular spot for locals and tourists but because there are so many different roads and tracks it didn’t become overly congested.It was beautiful and interesting to leisurely cycle around the streets of Bang Kachao, you could easily forget you were in the city with a population of over 68 million people if it wasn’t for occasionally being able to see back towards the huge skyscrapers of the city. I was very pleased to see a sign within the park that showed a number of facts about Bang Kachao, of which one was – there is a height limitation for any building and nothing can be constructed over 15m to conserve environmental quality as well as avoiding dense construction. Hopefully this stays in place for the future and this island continues to be a great little oasis for this mega city.
We returned the bikes and were pleasantly greeted with a frozen towelette to help refresh us after our 3 or so hours of cycling. We grabbed an ice block and didn’t need to wait long for the next boat to take us back into the hectic Bangkok we had come to know.
Lincoln, Zac and Indi were pretty excited to visit a snake farm with Braxton being a little apprehensive. Although once there, he was very interested in all the different snakes they had on display and finding each one in each enclosure or exhibit was a great game.
This snake farm is part of the Thai Red Cross at the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute and includes a research centre where they extract snake venom to produce anti-venoms and they do have a large array of snakes on display. During the week they are open from 9.30am – 3.30pm and you can view a snake venom extraction at 11am and the snake show at 2.30pm. We decided to head along after lunch to view the snake enclosures and exhibitions before watching the show. Adult entry fees were 200 THB/$8 NZD with children being 50 THB/$2 NZD. There are about 10 enclosures outside, even more inside and then level two sees the exhibits of preserved snakes, skeletons, skins, egg stages, and a good amount of information to watch and read.The area for the snake show was filling up well before 2.30pm so we sat down quite early to ensure we all got a seat. The presenter spoke in both Thai and English and along with seeing the staff handle many different snakes up close and personal, it was also quite informative. At the end of the show there was an opportunity for visitors to hold a very large albino boa constrictor and this saw Lincoln, Zac and Indi race down to line up – Braxton wasn’t having a bar of this though, no matter how much he had warmed up to the visit and the snakes INSIDE their enclosures.
The Royal Crematorium
With our Bangkok trip due to end on the 30th October we weren’t going to be able to visit the royal crematorium as it was only going to be open to the public from 2-30 November before being removed. Therefore, we decided to visit Sanam Luang (an open field and public square) where the crematorium was erected, have a look around and pay our respects. With tips from our hosts we took the BTS (Skytrain) to the Saphan Taksin station, did the short walk to the Sathorn Pier and took a large river boat along Chao Phraya River to the Tha Chang Pier; this is the closest pier to Sanam Luang and the Grand Palace.
The boat was very crowded and Lincoln and Logan got stuck in the middle of the boat surrounded by lots of people while Braxton and I managed a spot on the side of the boat with a better view and a little more room. Due to this, they both vetoed a return trip on the boat and I could definitely see their point. It was a Saturday and the number of people around due to the king’s funeral was highly increased, it would be a much more pleasant trip if you had managed to get one of the few seats on the boat to ensure your personal space wasn’t squeezed to nothing.By the time we arrived at Tha Chang Pier we were getting quite hungry as it was after 1pm, we grabbed a few things on sticks from the market stall area by the pier and walked a short distance to find somewhere to have lunch. We then walked towards the crematorium and noticed that shop after shop had a huge amount of commemorative items of the king for sale. Some roads around Sanam Luang were still closed and there were barriers up so the public couldn’t get too close to the complex but from what we could see, it looks like a pretty spectacular structure. Just incredible the amount of hours that went into completing it with the Thai government granting one billion baht (over $40 million NZD) to cover the construction.We would have liked to have visited the Grand Palace itself and some nearby Wats, however the palace was closed during the month of October due to the vast preparations for the funeral; so we’ll leave those for when we are back in Bangkok in the new year.
We have also continued to have some amazing dishes throughout Thailand and our food adventures page is available here.
There is also a little peak of our lovely Bangkok accommodation, even though it’s not available to book and because of this family connection we were able to reign the budget back in!!
Average Daily Spend – $81.82 NZD ($90.68 NZD under budget per day)
Next up, country number four…. Laos.