The Chao Phraya River runs north to south through Bangkok - the Venice of the East. Along with a great network of canals, this river serves as a main thoroughfare through the city and is bustling with activity during the day.
One morning in Bangkok, Nick and I decided to take an hour long long boat tour down the river and through some canals to check out this side of the city.
The long boats on the river in Bangkok are much longer than those out in the islands and have much larger engines. (They certainly don't mess around with their boat engines here in Thailand - these things are HOGS!)
Although I'm sure that the river has it's own set of traffic rules, I couldn't figure them out for the life of me. The water-taxis hop from side to side, crossing the river diagonally while the rest of the boats go up and down either side of the river - seemingly on a whim.
To our eyes it looked like complete chaos, but the boats effortlessly passed by each other and no one seemed to flinch when it looked like another boat was headed directly toward us. I guess driving a boat in Bangkok is a bit like driving a scooter in Taiwan.
Our little tour took us past the Royal Palace
and the Temple of Dawn (which we didn't get to explore close-up)
and down a canal
where we could get a glimpse of a life lived on the river.
(If it weren't for the houses on stilts, it would look just like a regular old street had been flooded!)
Floating down the river, you could almost forget that you're in an urban city of over 8 million people. It was quite a relaxing little trip.
To me, the Chao Phraya looked like a pretty polluted river - and based on how polluted the rivers are in the states, I have to assume that it would be worse here in Bangkok - but nonetheless there were lots of people fishing and swimming in it, so maybe it's not that bad...?
I certainly wouldn't swim in it, but I really enjoyed my long tail boat ride through the city, and the water taxis were by far my favorite mode of transportation while we were in Bangkok. The river is just one more thing that makes Bangkok a fantastic city to visit!