bangkok: a long-tailed speedboat cruise down the chao phraya river & canals

Thursday, January 17:  This morning, we take a long-tailed speedboat down the Chao Phraya River and canals (khlongs) of Bangkok.

a shrine we pass on our way to the dock

a shrine we pass on our way to the dock

King Bhumibhol

King Bhumibol

Chao Phraya River

Chao Phraya River

me waiting on the dock

me waiting on the dock

Ryan and Denny

Ryan and Denny

the long-tailed speedboat

the long-tailed speedboat

along the Chao Phraya River

along the Chao Phraya River

along the Chao Phraya River

along the Chao Phraya River

We pass Wat Kanlayanamit, a relatively newer temple built in the reign of King Rama III (1824 – 1851).

Wat Kanlayanamit

Wat Kanlayanamit

Wat Kanlayanamit

Wat Kanlayanamit

The river cruise would have been more picturesque if it wasn’t such a dreary day. Our boat heads off the Chao Phraya River and down the Khlong Phasi Charoen, a 30 km long canal in the western part of central Thailand.  Construction of the canal began in 1866 and was completed in 1872 (Wikipedia: Khlong Phasi Charoen).

We drift past stilted wooden homes, mobile shops, ‘floating kitchens,’ colonial mansions and colorful culture along the riverfront.

houses along Khlong Phasi Charoen

houses along Khlong Phasi Charoen

along Khlong Phasi Charoen

along Khlong Phasi Charoen

houses along Khlong Phasi Charoen

houses along Khlong Phasi Charoen

Long Live Our Beloved King

Long Live Our Beloved King

another small temple complex

another small temple complex

part of the temple complex along Khlong Phasi Charoen

part of the temple complex along Khlong Phasi Charoen

catfish in the canal

catfish in the canal

Ryan tosses breadcrumbs to the fish

Ryan tosses breadcrumbs to the fish

more of the colorful temple complex along the canal

more of the colorful temple complex along the canal

a modern looking house along the canal

a modern looking house along the canal

another colorful spot at the Khlong Phasi Charoen pier

the Khlong Phasi Charoen pier

along Khlong Phasi Charoen

along Khlong Phasi Charoen

along the canal

along the canal

lush greenery

lush greenery

houses along the canal

houses along the canal

relaxing on the front porch

relaxing on the front porch

another modern house

another modern house

temple complex of Wat Arun

temple complex on the way to Wat Arun

Eventually, we stop at Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn.  There are over 31,200 Buddhist temples spread around Thailand. In Thai these are called wat.  One of these, Wat Arun, is named after Aruna, the Indian God of Dawn. Standing tall on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya River, Wat Arun has an 82-meter high prang (Khmer-style tower), beautifully decorated with tiny pieces of colored glass and Chinese porcelain placed delicately into intricate patterns (Bangkok.com: Wat Arun).  Chinese ships calling at the port of Bangkok discarded tons of old porcelain as ballast. The tower’s construction was started during the first half of the 19th century by Rama II and later completed by Rama III (Lonely Planet: Wat Arun).

Wat Arun, or the Temple of Dawn

Wat Arun, or the Temple of Dawn

This Wat or Buddhist temple is an architectural representation of Mount Meru, the center of the world in Buddhist cosmology. In the mythology of Tibetan Buddhism, Mount Meru is a place that simultaneously represents the center of the universe and the single-pointedness of mind sought Buddhist practitioners. Thousands of miles in height, Meru is located somewhere beyond the physical plane of reality, in a realm of perfection and transcendence. The four-corner prang of Wat Arun, which house images of the guardian gods of the four directions, reinforces this mystical symbolism (Wat Arun: The Temple of Dawn).

Wat Arun

Wat Arun

Our next stop is the Grand Palace and other temples of Bangkok.

Categories: Asia, Bangkok, Chao Phraya River, Khlong Phasi Charoen, Temple of Dawn, Thailand, Wat Arun, Wat Kanlayanamit | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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