By Jen Louie, Foster Undergraduate participating in at exchange with Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand.
My Friday off began in its usual late fashion; rolling out of bed to pop some bread in the toaster at around noon, maybe closer to 1pm this time. I had no plans and no intention of staying in my flat all day. After flipping through a book and searching the internet for a few minutes, I came across a destination called Bang Kra Chao.
Getting there: About a 30 minute walk, or 15 minute ride, from my residence is the Khlong Toei Port. I arrived at the port and rented a bicycle for 100B ($3 USD), which made the (usually 10B) boat ride to Bang Kra Chao and back free. I took the bicycle on to a little speed boat and hopped in for a quick two-minute ride across the Chao Phraya river to arrive at a port in Bang Kra Chao.
In Bang Kra Chao: From the minute I got off the boat to making my way back home, it was hard to remember that I was still in Bangkok. I read about Bang Kra Chao being the ‘jungle-getaway, perfect for cyclists who need to get out of the bustling Bangkok city life,’ and that just about sums it up perfectly. It’s quiet. Too quiet to be considered part of Bangkok. Apart from the main road, the loudest noise came from the squeak of my bike as I peddled along the side streets and alleyways around the area. There’s a small town with few enormous sized estates. For the most part, the homes are modest and small and surrounded by lush nature. For three hours I rode my bike aimlessly, getting lost repeatedly, stopping at a small food market and to walk around grassy areas, and balancing the bike while on elevated platforms. I didn’t see a single tourist as I rode around; everyone there seemed to be a local living and working in the area. There were stray dogs on every corner of every block, moss coated canals of green murky waters below platforms and bridges, and palm trees and greenery that overshadowed the concrete siding of a few homes. It was the perfect atmosphere for a breezy bike ride through a relaxing area.
Around 5pm I took out the map I was given when I rented the bike and tried to figure out how to get back the port. On my way, I got caught in a rain storm, drenching my backpack and entire body in wonderfully cold harsh rain. I hopped back on to a speedboat during a break between the downpours and ended up walking all the way back to my residence just before the sun set. Not sure why I decided to walk the whole way, but it was actually quite nice and leisurely.
My spontaneous quick trip across the river to Bang Kra Chao has definitely been one of my favorite adventures in Bangkok so far. It was an unexpected, much-needed, adventure spent in a fairly secluded, serene environment. It allowed me to take some time to be on my own and appreciate everything everything happening around me. There’s a unique feeling associated with venturing alone that makes me exceptionally happy; and a bike ride through the jungle of Bangkok only further facilitated that happiness. I plan on going back to get lost and spend the whole day there some time soon, but maybe bring a friend to experience it with me.