The day after my Chao Phraya mini adventure, I decided to explore Lat Krabang on the outskirts of Eastern Bangkok, where I’m staying in Adam’s spare room. My wanderings took me to temples, down the canals, and then on a whim, across town to the night market for dinner (Teriyaki in Thailand?! Night Market Dinner). I’m getting competent in travelling via song tao (open air taxi truck) the best way to travel in cities like this one.
Wat Latkrabang is a big but not sprawling temple complex like Wat Pho is. The temple was empty save for a cat nursing her kittens, a flock of pigeons, and some temple maintenance people maintaining the temple. The temple seems to be expanding and much of it is under construction or renovation. Perhaps someday it will rival Wat Pho in terms of grandeur and almost obnoxious size. I hope it doesn’t. The peace the temple brought was welcome.
On my way from Wat Latkrabang to Wat Sangkharatcha, I decided to take what I thought was a shortcut along one of the many canals that run through Lat Krabang. By the time the path devolved into a four foot wide concrete slab elevated above the water and I realized that it would not connect to the bridge I needed to cross to get back to the main road, I was in river village. Four women sitting outside their homes looked up suddenly, surprised to see a farang, a (western) foreigner, in a place farangs were not expected to be. A line of smallish, jerry rigged homes sat on the canal bank appearing as if they were repaired and added to over the many years they existed. Each one was unique. The concrete slab I was walking on was their communal front porch. Beyond the slab, twenty or thirty feet below, lay the canal lazily carrying pads of jungle vegetation downstream.
I made my best ‘Please help me! I’m lost! I didn’t mean to walk into your neighborhood face’ and I gestured towards the bridge. One of the women, who seemed to be the leader, maybe even the mayor, explained how to get there and then lead me when I clearly didn’t understand a word she said. She took me farther down the path and then through her house where her three children looked up surprised to see their mother leading a perplexed farang through their home. She told her three children aged about five to eight years, to lead me out and they ran ahead giggling, gleeful with their mission. I followed them through the warren of twisting paths and rusting homes and concrete walls that is their hutong like river village. We all had a laugh when one of the children stepped on an ice cream wrapper with apparently some ice cream still inside and it made a surprisingly loud “squish-POP!”. The little street dogs looked up at us scolwing from their afternoon naps in the sun.
Eventually, we turned a corner at the end of the village and the bridge lay before us. They pointed to the bridge with a flourish as if to say “Ta-da! Here it is!” I thanked them and waied and they waied back and then they were off, giggling and scampering, back into the labyrinthine village. I crossed the ‘bridge’ which seemed more like like a utility structure than a pedestrian bridge and walked back to Lat Krabang’s main road and continued on my journey. The experience with the river folk seemed to straight out of a South East Asian companion novel to Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere.
I didn’t photograph the village specifically, but I did photograph the surrounding canals in Lat Krabang.
Wat Sangkha Racha wasn’t as enjoyable to wander around as the empty and quietly beautiful Wat Latkrabang. In part due the more developed urban area surrounding the temple complex and the barking guard dog that decided he didn’t like the way I smelled and chased me out of the main temple. One of the outer walls of Wat Sangkha Racha is open to a canal, with paths leading from the central complex to the water. I wandered down the covered walkway along the canal which was a nice but too brief break from the noisy, dusty urbanness on the Bangkok side of Lat Krabang.
On my way out, snoozing in the shadows was one of the biggest pigs I’ve ever seen (about the size of a Warren Wilson boar). He jerked awake and made curmudgeonly pig noises at me until I walked away. Why was there a giant boar hanging out in the temple? Sometimes it’s better not to dwell on questions like that and just walk away. Quickly. Before you accidentally anger another animal.
On to the next adventure! I woke up the next morning feeling that I needed some nature.
If you missed my latest post on the central Chao Phraya and Wat Pho click here!