Riding the Klong Saen Saeb Express
This ancient canal (construction began in 1837) starts near the Golden Mount (Wat Saket), goes through Central Bangkok and ends up way down countryside.
A pretty regular (& adventurous!) boat service runs from Panfa to Pratunam where passengers have to switch boats for continuing to Wat Sriboon-Reung, Bangkapi, an excellent form of alternative transport to get across town.
Life along this canal varies enormously, from semi slums to modern office towers, from temples to mosques and more. A better way to get a cool impression about Bangkok is hard to find in my opinion.
Quaint ferries being pulled across can be seen at the 2nd part.
Street art and graffiti are applied widely on both sides of the canal, especially near the Sapan Hua Chang pier, Siam Square.
The boat driver usually sits undisturbed with a huge fan to cool him down doing whatever he's supposed to do...
The ticket sellers (male & female!) perform acrobatic acts alongside the boat and are expert in performing their rope tricks when a pier stop is deemed necessary!
Passengers need to be quick and careful as getting on and off can be a risky business, I once almost fell off while waiting for my parents who waited too long at the pier!
The service is not without hazards.., the smell of the klong water can be wicked at times!
To protect themselves against incoming spray passengers can raise a plastic sheet but this is not 'waterproof' to say the least....
No protection is available against the boat's massive engine, its noise and belching black smoke can be horrendous....
Despite all this anyone seriously interested in Bangkok should take this wild boat ride once!
Note that there’s a different boat type operating nowadays with a walkway in the middle and much easier access for passengers to get on and off.
Interestingly these boats too are equipped with a funky mechanism that enables the driver the lower the roof in case of high water levels before going under bridges! This happened a lot in the beginning but seldom these days, I guess there’s better use of the sluices…