The Green Lung: not two lungs, but one. If it wasn’t for Sukhumvit road, there would probably be two. Joke! Most of Bangkok’s long-term tourists have heard about it, but actually only very few have been there. Since the hustle and bustle of the city happens on the east side of Chaophraya, there are very few reasons to cross it, apart from, perhaps, Wat Arun. However, there is word of mouth going about “The Green Lung” of Bangkok.
It’s an experience. A small group of us took a quick taxi ride from Udom Suk BTS towards Chaophraya river. By quick I mean like 15 minutes. We got to a tiny pier, where you could catch a motorbike-friendly ferry to a larger pier with a temple, or a longtail-boat to a smaller one (which we took and paid 6 baht each). As soon as we stepped off the boat we could feel the serenity of the place – no cars, no people, just empty streets. Mind you, we were there in midday heat as usual. The motorcycle taxi drivers were almost starting their bikes when they saw us, as it’s normal to just pay the 10 baht and scoot from A to B within minutes, but instead we took a relaxing (nice and hot) stroll to the Bang Namphueng floating market.
Since I hadn’t been to such a market before, I had imagined them to be more ‘floating’ so to speak. We only saw a few women selling goods from little boats – the rest seemed to be set on the concrete walkways. There were many, many foods to choose from: meals and snacks, including vegetarian, local organic produce, good coffee, and many more options. Both the vendors and visitors seemed to be quite friendly and excited to see foreigners visiting, some of whom even wanted to take pictures with us! as you’d expect, there were also dogs everywhere, but they were friendly.
The whole area is a criss-cross of canals with plenty of tall trees, elevated concrete walkways, and very few roads. Just by the entrance to the floating market we rented bicycles for 80 baht/day, and as soon as we left Auste got a flat tyre! Luckily they were happy to exchange the bike at no extra charge. Just riding a bicycle felt like a form of meditation, probably because of all the green around us.
To be honest we also spent a fair bit of time enjoying drinks at Bangkok Tree House, which is also a hotel, and at the Siamese Fighting Fish Gallery. Coffee addicts, huh? After navigating the narrow pathways for a while we went to the newly (Spring 2015) renovated pond area in the Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan park. We had been there last year (late 2014) but it was rather shabby compared to current paved paths and activity-friendly grassy fields.
Time flies when you’re having fun, and that was definitely evident when we returned the bikes at around 5 pm: everything was closed and we rushed to the pier to catch one of the few last boats (running until around 6 pm).