|A small part of Bangkok, seen from my hotel room|
|Long tail boats on the Chao Phraya|
|The Royal Couple and the hot Princess are ubiquitous|
|What a view!|
|A little offering keeps accidents away ...|
|... and a bit of color never hurts, either|
|The tugs have these massive hooks to pull the barges|
Bangkok is built on water. Just looking at the map makes clear that this is the Venice of the east. I haven't checked good ol' Google, but I am sure there is some-such moniker for Bangkok. The Chao Phraya is a scarily busy waterway, with boats of all sizes crissing and a-crossing at insane speeds. I was especially fascinated by the "long tail" boats that are powered by what must be old Chevy engines that look as if they produce at least 575 hp. The guys who operate them work the throttle and the long propeller shaft—directly attached to the open-air engine—with much muscle and obvious dexterity. The speed that these long skiffs achieve is phenomenal! Next time I'm here I'll rent one of them for a day and explore all those canals that branch off from the main river.
|Choice river real estate|
|And then there are the temples|
|Seriously overcrowded ferry|
I got back on a boat and continued my journey upstream. The architecture varies from the gilded wats via the ramshackle riverside slum dwelling on stilts to the ultra-modern condo highrise. Wherever you look, there is another photo opportunity. I stayed on the front deck for most of the way, trying to take it all in.
|Speeding long tail boat|
|The engines are impressive, to say the least|
|The Hilton's pool ain't too shabby|
At night, the Hilton's boat runs a shuttle to the Asiatique Riverfront market area. Well, it was a bit disappointing right by the pier—totally touristy with KFC, Burger King, and Starbucks as anchors. But a few blocks away from the water, there it was once again, the Thailand throbbing with Sonkran fever, with crazy yet non-aggressive traffic, with the satay stands and all those smiling faces. I drifted around for a while, taking in those last few impressions of a country that has been quite an experience. Undoubtedly, I will be back.
|Sunset over smoggy Bangkok|
|Three minutes later the sun was essentially invisible because of the smog|
|A final beer—yes, an Erdinger!!!—on the rooftop|