I spent the first weekend of April in Bangkok en route to our office in Indonesia. Instead of staying along Sukhumvit, my “usual” haunt, I decided to spend the weekend along the banks of the Chao Phraya river in the Wat Phraya Krai district. This area has easy access to the BTS line (station BTS2, Saphan Taksin/Central Pier) and is undergoing a bit of a renaissance with several large hotels and residential complexes either completed or being built. From the Saphan Taksin BTS station, it is a short walk to a major water taxi stand that links various hotels, shops, temples etc. along the Chao Phraya river. My hotel was close to the Asiatique Riverfront district – an fairly new development that is a bit like Granville Island “on steroids” – a large complex with an eclectic mix of shops (everything from inflatable décor to ukulele shops – see pictures), restaurants, entertainment facilities etc. I believe it is where the East Asiatique Company (a Danish shipping company) used to have its docks and warehouses, hence the name. Adjacent to Asinatique is Wat Ratcha Singkorn, a traditional Wat where I took a few photos of novice monks getting their heads shaved. It’s a great area in general to spend an evening or two and has a large variety of restaurants, pubs, boutique shops, buskers, etc. and is also very kid friendly with a fair ground that includes a giant Ferris wheel, go-carts and other entertainment.
This is an extremely hot time of year, just a week or two before Songkhran, but it always seems to be a degree or two cooler along the river, particularly during the early mornings and evenings. I was surprised to see large schools of catfish in the river (coming to the surface for food), either an indication of improving water quality or the fact they are an incredibly hardy fish species.