The long-tailed wooden boat growled as we gingerly hopped from the pier and seated ourselves inside. All the other commuters had taken the previous boat, filling it almost to capacity. Now, this one was all ours. A guy called out for more commuters, but the pier was already empty. The motorized boat growled once more, and gaining speed, ripped across the narrow canal, roaring onwards to a place called we-don’t-know-where.
|COMMUTERS TAKING THE MORNING WATER TAXIS TO WORK|
We have no idea that such antiquated transport system still existed in the modern metropolis that is Bangkok. It was only by chance that we were staying in Novotel Platinum Bangkok, which sits beside the Khlong Saen Saep canal, and we saw these long river taxis plying the waterways in regular intervals.
With no real plans, we decided to ride one before we leave Bangkok.
|HERE COMES OUR RIDE!|
Without any idea where these boats go, we asked one of the hotel staff about it. He was quite bemused about what we wanted to do; he was probably scared that we were unused to such haphazard transports. But with our insistence, he finally agreed to help us. He told us it’s more interesting to ride the west-heading boats since it’s more cultural.
Whatever that means, we heeded his advice.
|A NIGHTMARE FOR PEOPLE WITH ZERO BALANCING SKILLS|
The next day after breakfast, we immediately headed to the Pratunam pier and bought our tickets. Prices depend on where you’re alighting and it ranges from 10.00 to 20.00 baht. Totally cheap! There were quite a lot of commuters that time, it seems like this is a really popular transport for the locals.
I guess if you’ve seen how horrendous Central Bangkok’s traffic is, you’d take this route too.
|A WATER TAXI’S COCKPIT|
Taking the next water taxi, we were able to secure the whole 40-seater boat to ourselves. Getting inside was easier than I was dreading it to be, being a person with a disability for balancing. Soon, the boat was shredding the waters of Khlong Saen Saep as if Godzilla was chasing us.
|THROUGH THE RESIDENTIAL DISTRICTS OF BANGKOK|
Our long tailed boat passed through some local houses and few old buildings. It wasn’t as cultural as our hotel-staff-cum-forced-guide described it, but it was a pretty nice insight into the daily lives of Thai people living in Bangkok.
|YOU DON’T WANT THAT ON YOUR FACE|
The canal, as most of them are in urban settings, is really not that clean. Well, it really didn’t stink as much as you’d imagine it to be, but you really don’t want its waters splashing freely against your face. Good thing these water taxis have improvised splash-guards that you can put up once your driver decides to rev it up.
|A PIER STOP-OVER|
The Khlong Saen Saep Express Boat rides for about 18 kilometers with 27 loading piers from end to end. It runs from the Pom Prap Sattru Phai District up to the Bang Kapi District in Bangkok. To get from one end to the next, you’ll have to transfer at the Pratunam Pier (where we actually boarded), just be sure to keep your ticket on hand so you won’t have to pay again.
|ZOOMING ACROSS THE KHLONG SAEN SAEP|
It took about 15 minutes for us to reach the western end of the line from Pratunam, which we later learned to be the Golden Mount Line. We alighted at the Panfa Leelard pier, which was five stations away from where we boarded. We then wandered aimlessly out into the open streets.
What we saw surprised us, the Democracy Monument! We’re almost at the Bangkok’s Grand Palace, but more importantly, Khao San Road! We could’ve just taken these boats every early evening for our drinking sessions the famed street.
|A STARTLING FIND|
Without any real direction, we saw a temple called Phra Ubosoth, a 19th century temple built by King Rama III.
We passed by several open-aired stalls inside the complex selling Buddhist-related stuff including a life-sized replica of a monk in a sitting position. I was actually quite startled by it; it looked too real for comfort. Imagine seeing an actual person encased in glass.
|A LOCAL HAWKER CARINDERIA|
It was just too bad that we were stuffed full from our breakfast, since there were a few interesting hawker stands we passed as we meandered along this side of Bangkok. We even saw signs leading to Bangkok’s Chinatown and Little India, another food haven! We’re quite tempted to try a few dishes but it was just physically impossible to ingest more food.
|A STREET IN BANGKOK WHERE YOU CAN BUY NOTHING BUT BUDDHA IMAGES|
From more signs along the road, we saw that we were actually at the Pom Prap Sattru Phai District in Bangkok and the area is near Wat Saket, an Ayutthaya-era temple. Dubbed as the Golden Mount Temple, it is located on a 63-meter high artificial hill that can be accessed via winding stairs.
|GOING BACK TO PRATUNAM PIER|
We would’ve loved to go and see the temple, but we really didn’t have much time left on our hands; we’re leaving Bangkok and flying to Chiang Mai in a few hours.
Trotting back as fast as we can, we hurriedly went back down to the water taxi station in Panfa Leelard, paid for our tickets, jumped on the long-tailed boat and held tight as Godzilla chased us back to Pratunam pier.
Khlong Saen Seap Express Boat
Address: Panfa Leelard to Wat Sriboonreung
Contact Number: (+66) 2375-2369
Facebook: Click Here
Fare: 10.00 to 20.00 baht (20.00 USD)
GPS Coordinates Map: 13.755573, 100.506437