Walk 3: Big Circle Walk

Walk 3: The Big Circle

Where: Thonburi

Duration: About 2 hours (more if you explore)

Start: River City

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This walks starts at the SiPhaya Pier, River City. SiPhaya Pier is adjacent the Royal Orchid Sheraton with River City Shopping Complex on the right. As you approach the Pier there is what looks like a good French bread shop on the left. Cross-river ferries leave from here and travel to Khlong San – a bustling market, organised along two rows, and good for cheap clothes, shoes, bags and accessories and some really tempting food. Also, if your taste runs to guerrilla barbers, you’ve come to the right place. Fare is now 3 baht each way.

If you take the right hand row, turn right at the first alley on your right. Follow this for about 50 metres and you will come to the Jam Factory on the right. A general purpose art and entertainment space, the Jam Factory has changing exhibitions, a couple of up-market restaurants, an architectural firm and a trendy homewares store. There is a minimalist mural on the left as you enter the grounds. It also has a market on the last Sunday of every month – kind of vintage / retro / hipster/ often with a twist.

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Re-trace your steps and exit the market at the T-Intersection of Th.Charoen Nakhon and Th. Charoen Rat. Cross the road and begin your walk up Th. Charoen Rat. This road used to be the original railway line with Khlong San as the railhead for goods to be shipped across the river to the businesses on Th. Charoen Krung. This last section of track was taken up in 1961. So our destination is now Wong Wian Yai (Big Circle) Station.

On weekdays Thonburi is generally quieter than Bangkok and the addition of trees and reasonable footpaths on Th. Charoen Rat makes for a pleasant walk. For those with a penchant for the pedibus, foot massages over here are 150 / hour rather than the 250-300/hour back across the river. This is the place to come if you are in the market for clips, clamps, hi-viz vests, hardware, leather, dress material and assorted vinyl products. Want a genuine Bangkok bike for all that shopping? You can have this beauty for 5000 baht.

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As you approach the end of Th Charoen Rat and hit Th. Phra Chao Taksin there is a busy wet market on both sides of the road.

When you get to this T-intersection, turn to the right and head to the overhead bridge to cross the road. At the bridge, on your right, is another Bangkok ghost building – this time the Merry King department store. A good view of Wong Wian Yai from the bridge and Taksin’s statue.

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Once off the walk bridge, head back to Wong Wian Yai station which, naturally enough is directly across from Th. Charoen Rat. The rail line is the Bangkok – Mahachai – Mae Khlong Line. It was built in 1905 and travels to Samut Songkhram with a ferry trip in between (so it’s really two lines). This is the much videoed line that runs through a market near its terminus. The Thais call it the Closing Umbrella Market.

According to the details on the excellent The Man in Seat 61 site, trains start running on the hour from about 5.30am.

 

Walk along the platform and then take the road on the left that follows the line. You are now walking into a relatively quiet Thai neighbourhood. You are almost guaranteed to be the only non-Thai around. Before long you will see the Suan Phlu Mosque on the right. Ken Barrett (2013) tells us that the muslim community here came originally from Ayutthaya or from prisoners of war that King Taksin brought back from his campaigns in the East and South of Thailand.

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Like most modest Thai neighbourhoods, there are the small shops, the wooden houses, the spirit houses, the outdoor laundromats and the odd vintage VW.

 

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If you like to explore the wats along the way, Wat Kantathararam in off to your left as you approach Talat Phlu station. It is very welcoming of guests so have a wander. ‘Phlu’ is the Thai word for betel nut and this area was Bangkok’s main supply of the leaf. Talat (market) Phlu grew as the demand from Bangkok increased. The Teochew Chinese who had migrated here and traded in betel nut moved with the times and changed the market into a thriving wet market once betel nut fell out of favour. Again I refer to Ken Barrett here who describes how the area is still rich in Teochew food. He describes the Jeen Ree restaurant whose claim to fame was a ‘mee krob’ dish – stir fried crispy noodles with pork, shrimp and egg. It is said that Rama V came here to sample the dish – and judging be the photos on the wall who’s to argue – and today you can order the same in three different sizes. The smallest size plate will set you back 120 baht. The restaurant is next to the Talat Phlu Pier.

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Time now to head back towards Wong Wian Yai. You could follow the road on this side of the tracks or take the more interesting back alleys that track the Bangkok Yai Khlong on the left. You’ll pass a Baptist Church, fire station, old wooden houses and eventually come to the Wat Klang market. Wander in here, especially along the khlong side, and near where you must turn back into the market you will see a very cool coffee shop.

The abandoned wooded houses on the opposite side of the khlong echo stories from the past.

Along this route are two notable wats that figure importantly in Thai history – Wat Mon and Wat Intharam. Both are worth exploring and Ken Barrett’s account is worth reading before a visit. Eventually you will re-join Th.Thoet Thai and head to the intersection with Th.Intharaphitak where you will turn right and head back to Wong Wian Yai roundabout. Keep walking towards the railway station on your left and continue on until you come to the BTS. There are steps up to the walkway that will take you to BTS Wong Wian Yai to the left. I have walked here numerous times and it is like entering a Jeffrey Smart painting. It must be one of the most under-used walkways in Bangkok.

Catch the BTS to your next destination.

Barrett, K. (2013) 22 Walks in Bangkok. Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing
Posted in Eating, History, Religion | Leave a comment

Walk 2: National Stadium to Chomp cafe and art space (via Th. Khao San)

 

Where: Pathumwan District / Phra Nakom

Duration: About 2 hours (more if you explore)

Start: National Stadium BTS

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Once you get to National Stadium BTS you have a few options. If you have shopping fever then head to MBK on the southern side. If you have an art craving you can walk from the BTS into the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre which opens at 10am (closed Mondays). But if you are just walking take the left hand side exit (Exit 2) and continue your journey up Rama 1.

Within about 200 metres you will see the National Stadium on your left. The area is a large sporting complex and the original stadium – Supachalasai Stadium, was built in 1937.

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Roughly opposite is Jim Thompson’s house at 6 Soi Kasem San 2. Worth a visit if you have the time. The footpaths here are quite wide so it is pleasant walking in company. After about 400 metres you come to Th. Banthat Thong intersection. Cross the intersection and keep heading west. On the right hand side at the intersection you will see a 2013 mural by Amandine Urruty, a female artist who….lives and works on her bed, with a suit case full of pens always nearby. After studying at University for long years and a brief career in underground music, Amandine Urruty spreads her repertoire of beasts and her gallery of weird characters on all kind of mediums, on paper as on walls. As she masters techniques of traditional drawing, Amandine Urruty offers us a cheerful gallery of deviant portraits, associating grotesque outfits with baroque decorum which miraculously reconcile lovers of alchemistic symbolism to young ladies with too much make up (from her blog). It’s a collaborative work with Nicolas Barrome, another French artist.

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Continue along Rama 1 and you will walk under the expressway. On the left is the Pathumwan Sports Club where you might catch a glimpse of Muay Thai aspirants practising their craft. As you continue down Rama 1 you see Wat Sam Ngam on the right. The Chinese inspired filigree work on the pavilions and murals inside are worth are seeing. To see the murals, enter the wat and take your first left.

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Within meters of the wat is a bridge over the northern railway line. Rather than walk directly over the bridge, walk down to the small community on the right hand side. Note the small outdoor library and play centre for kids sheltering under the lip of the bridge. At the end of the street there is a small Chinese temple and steps back up onto the bridge.

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From the bridge you can see the rear of the old railway buildings within the Hualamphong railway complex. Most recently the interesting inner-courtyard of these buildings was used for a pop-up market.

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It’s a short distance to a khlong which wends its way down to River City (the start of Walk 3). Just before you cross the bridge however, look back to your right to see a fine example of early 20th century architecture housing a section of the Ministry of Energy. There is an intersection on the far side of the khlong with, thankfully, an overhead bridge to avoid a tricky ground level crossing. It’s at this intersection that Rama 1 becomes Th Bamrung Mueang (which means ‘road embellishing the city’). For a fascinating sketch of the road’s commercial history see: Th. Bamrung Mueang’s history

Coming from this walk’s direction you will pass an assortment of businesses including traditional medicine, hardware stores, glaziers, hairdressers (the road was the site of the first barber shops in Bangkok) although office furniture seems to be at the heart of it. Then again, it also has a great Vespa sales and repair shop as well. The footpath is wide and the walking is easy.

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You will also pass on the left hand side, what looks to be a deserted French Second Empire style building optimistically called European Town. A dream gone wrong somewhere. Just crying out for a hipster makeover.

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What I like about this part of town are the tree-lined streets that add colour, beauty and most importantly, at time of writing, shade. Continue along Th Bamrung Mueang and at the next intersection (Th. Worachak) you will see the old Bangkok Waterworks. The project was started by Rama V although he didn’t live to see it completed in 1914.

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Just after the Waterworks on the left hand side you will come to Soi Ban Bat. This community was established by Rama 1 and here lived artisans whose speciality was the making of alms bowls for monks. Much diminished these days, there are still some people working on the craft in the alleyways off the Soi along with other assorted small businesses. Take the first alley to the right once you have entered the soi. Apart from seeing traditional baat (alm’s bowls) you will find yourself amidst a vibrant community. Lots of grandparents looking after grandchildren.

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Over to your right is Phu Khao Thong – the Chedi of the Golden Mountain. Now commonly known as the Golden Mount. A project started by Rama III, it was completed by his son Rama IV (of the King and I story). On this walk you can continue a short way from Soi Ban Bat to the interaction with Th.Boriphat. Take a right and walk about 100 metres until you come to what is a kind of back entrance to the Mount. Enter and follow the internal road to the right until you come to the ticket office.Explore the Mount at your leisure. Just before the office, however, is what I’m claiming to be the world’s biggest mortar and pestle. That’s my trusty orange pen in the frame.

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Of course, if your desire runs more to inner carpenter rather than inner peace, you will have noticed on the far side of Th. Boriphat running parallel to the Mount’s wall a row of timber shops selling everything in the world of joinery. While away the hours!

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Behind these shops runs the outer-khlong of Rattankosin island. Cross the bridge and at the intersection of Th. Maha Chai you will need to cross to the left hand side of the road as the footpath disappears on the right. If you look ahead, about 300 metres away, you will see the Giant Swing.

At this point,  turn right and head towards Mahakan Fort. Lots of tasty looking food on the right hand side of Th. Maha Chai late in the day. Shortly you will cross a khlong and just after this is the entry into the Mahakan community. This community is under imminent threat from the Bangkok Municipal Authority who wish to pull it down and make it a park. The community is fighting back and welcome visitors. Like the Ban Baat community previously, take your smile and use your Thai.You can also stock up on fireworks for that special occasion.

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After visiting this community return to the intersection and rejoin Th. Bamrung. On the right hand side are old two story shop-fronts but on the left starts a row of shops selling an amazing array of Buddhist artefacts (sanghapan). See the earlier link for information on the shops.

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At this point Th. Bamrung Mueang widens out with the centre piece being the Giant Swing. This was originally built in 1784 by Rama 1 and moved to its current location in front of Wat Suthat in 1920. Renovations took place in 2005-6 with some massive teak trees from Phrae, in Northern Thailand. On the right is LanKonMueng – an open space in front of the City Hall where people often gather in the evenings for various outdoor activities.

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Follow Th. Bamrung, leaving the central square and on your left, down a small alley, you will come across Ban Mo Waan, a Thai / Chinese herbalist shop that has been in business for generations. A little further on, again on the left, is the Trok Mo market which is worth a wander.

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You could go on, but for this walk, retrace your steps and enter Th. Dinso. This road got it’s name from earlier times when it was the go to street for stationery – the Thai word for pencil is ดินสอ (dinsor). Walk down the left hand side and like other roads in the area it is shaded by trees. Immediately on your left you will see the Devasthan Bosth Brahmana – this temple was built in 1784 and houses the giant plank that served as the ‘seat’ of the Giant Swing. Continue along Th. Dinso. Off to the left are intriguing alleyways where rays of sunlight target different parts depending on the time of day. Walk 2 61Walk 2 57

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Many people come here for the food – so, depending on the time of day it might make for a good lunch break. http://www.eatingthaifood.com suggests that Mit Ko Yuan, at 186 is one of the best restaurants in Bangkok. It opens for lunch at 11am and dinner at 4pm. My lunch of glass noodles and chicken cost 40 baht.

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Walk on and you will cross Khlong Wat which connects the inner and outer moats of the old city. A little further and you come to Th. Ratchadamoen and the impressive Democracy Monument. Th.Ractchadamoen was completed in 1903 after a visit by King Rama 5 to Europe. It connects the old palace to the new. As Thailand’s military government under Gen. Prayut Chan o Cha seeks to muzzle any discussion about the pros and cons of the new Draft Constitution in 2016, this place echoes with the events of October 6 – 15th, 1973 where there were at times, an estimated half a million protestors against the then military government and frustration over the early promulgation of the constitution. It’s is interesting that the Red Shirt protests of 2010 decided that Ratchaprasong was more symbolic a place than Ratchadamoen.

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(accessed April 26th 2016: http://www.thaiworld.org/enn/thailand_monitor/answera.php?question_id=1293)

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The Democracy Monument itself was constructed in 1935 by the People’s Party Government and is based on dimensions stemming from the numbers of the date 24.6.1932, when the Monarchy became a constitutional one after a bloodless coup.

From Th. Dinso turn left into Th.Ratchadamoen and pause to look at the now aging Art Deco buildings designed and built to reflect the new modern and democratic Thailand.Walk 2 65

Walking away from the Democracy Monument, enjoy the wide footpath and shady trees, and on the left you will pass a smorgasbord of lottery tickets – all carefully chosen by systems and signs people have carefully made note of. My own approach is to count gecko calls in the evening to get my numbers but I haven’t won anything yet .

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A little further on you will come to the Th. Tanao intersection. Cross Th.Ratchadamoen here and you will see the newly opened Bangkok City Library.

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(pic from: http://www.bangkokpost.com/lifestyle/social-and-lifestyle/1234518/shelf-improvement)

A little further on you will see Th. Khao San over to your left off Th. Tanao. Wander along Th. Khao San for all your tattoo, Rastafarian, Thai fisherman’s pants, tickets to Koh Tao (and anywhere else), cold beer, begpackers, and a passing parade of new arrivals, departees and wanderers.

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At the end of Th.Khao San turn right. Walk along the left hand side of the road until you come to the intersection of Th. Pra Sumen – a road that follows the outer moat of Rattanakosin Island (called Khlong Bang Lamphu at this point). Continue walking towards the khlong and start across the bridge. Good views here of the waterway in both directions. Look back to the left and on the bank you can see some recent street art.Walk 2 84Walk 2 85Walk 2 86

Just over the bridge, again on the left hand side, you will pass one of the smallest and best blues bars in Bangkok – Adhere 13. You are now on Th. Samsen and about 20 metres on you come to a Soi on the left. On the corner is your destination for the walk, Chomp cafe and art space. Good food and regular art exhibitions upstairs. The gallery specialises in young and emerging artists, especially street artists. Look at the cafe’s side wall facing the soi for a recent collaborative work.

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Posted in Architecture, Art, Eating, History | Leave a comment

Walk 1: Bangkok Street Art

Where: Bangrak district

Duration: Two to three hours ( maybe 4 hours with a group and breaks)

Start: Chong Nonsi BTS

 

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1) Before you leave the platform, look south-west and up – this is the new MahaNakhon Building, set to be the tallest building in Bangkok when completed. It will have 77 floors and rise to 314 metres. The previous tallest building was the Baiyoke Tower at 304 metres. The pixelated facade looks post-apocalyptic to me.

Mahanakhon

Take the Silom Road exit from the BTS and walk back the way you came on the train. Th.Silom is the first road you come to. Turn left and walk about 200 metres until you see Th. Decho, a small road across Silom on your right. This road connects Silom to Surawong. Walk down Th. Decho on the right hand side. After about 100 metres you will come to a vacant lot. Look back to the wall of the building facing this empty space and you will see this work by Japanese artist, Motomichi Nakamura. See  (http://www.digicult.it/agency/motomichi-nakamura/) for an insight into his video work.

Motomichi Nakamura.

2) Walk to the end of Th. Decho and turn left into Th. Surawong. The next mural is about 700 metres away, just before you turn left into Th. Mahesak. On the way you will walk past The British Club – membership is open to all nationalities and there are currently over 1,000 members from over 40 countries. The Club celebrated its centenary in 2003.

Just as an aside….there is a phantom conspiracy theorist at work in the neighbourhood. Normally he concocts theories of the world on electricity boxes and telephones – but just this week one has been designed on the footpath outside the British Club.

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Next is the Neilson Hays Library. Having it’s origins back in the mid 19th Century, the current neo-classical building was commissioned by Dr Hays in memory of his wife, Jenny Neilson, who had died suddenly in 1920. The building opened in 1922. Designed by the Italian architect, Mario Tamagno, (who, along with fellow Italian, Annibale Rigotti, designed Hualamphong Station and the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall ) the building was taken over by the Japanese in 1941 and over 1000 rare volumes were shipped to Japan – many never to return. Just past the Library is an imposing home behind mustard-coloured walls. Elephants stand sentry at the impressive wooden gates. Reputed to be the home of the Chang beer boss – hence the elephants (there are more inside the gates).

On the corner of Surawong and Mahesak is a vacant lot. Look back the way you came and you will see a mural by Greek artist, Fikos – http://globalstreetart.com/fikos – for some more examples of his work. On a nearby hoarding you will see a blunt assessment of the new government.

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3) Turn into Th. Mahesak and walk back towards Silom. Turn right at Silom and walk under the expressway. Cross to the other side of Silom here and walk to the T-intersection with Th. Charoen Krung. On the corner is the Lebua State Tower, a neo-Grecian building designed by Thai architect Professor Rangsan Torsuwan in the early 1990s, and is one of the biggest buildings in SE Asia. The architect cum property developer was arrested for allegedly plotting to murder the President of the Supreme Court, Praman Chansue in 1993 but was aquitted some years later. The rooftop bar, called Sirocco, is on the 64th floor and featured in the movie Hangover 2. Turn left into Th. Charoen Krung (Bangkok’s first official street in 1861) and walk about 500 metres to Saphan Taksin BTS. Cross the road here and walk down the busy side street to the river. Parked on the left along a wall is usually a row of red songthaew. However, covering the length of the wall is a work by Dutch artist Daan Botlek (http://www.daanbotlek.com/).

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4) Continue along Th.Charoen Khrung on the river side walking past Wat Yannawa, a temple dating back to the Ayutthaya period. Continue along the road for 100 metres or so until you come to the entry to the Bangkok Dockyard. In the dockyard is an anatomical piece that typifies the work by Austrian artist Nichos. You may need to have a copy of your passport handy to get in. Otherwise it can only be seen from Saphan Taksin or by boat.The steps leading up to the bridge are down by the pier.

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5) Cross Th. Charoen Khrung and walk back towards Saphan Taksin BTS. Just before you get to the BTS is the Bridge Art Space.

Stop here for a coffee, check out the changing exhibitions upstairs and re-charge. It is air-conditioned and has wi-fi. When you leave, check out the 47 floor Ghost Tower (officially called the Sathorn Unique Tower) just behind the Art Space. It is a twin to the nearby State Tower (same architect) but fell foul of the Asian financial crisis in 1997 (along with many other projects in Bangkok). But be warned, it is haunted.

Ghost Tower

6) Cross back over Th.Charoen Khrung and walk back towards Th.Silom. On the river side there are lots of interesting places to explore. One in particular that you might want to look at is the now disused Customs Buildings by the river (Soi 36). Soi 36 is also the site of the French Embassy and the Haroon Mosque – originally built as a wooden structure in 1828, the newer structure was built  after WW2. A lot of good Thai-Muslim food in the area. Details for mosque visits

Daily 9.00 – 11.30 and 13.30 – 15.00.
Friday Prayers are from 12.15-13.00
Mosque Etiquette
1. Visiting mosques is a learning experience and may become a highlight of your trip.
2 . Leave your shoes on the rack at the entrance.
3. Avoid unnecessary conversation inside the mosque. Turn off mobile phones, don’t chew gum, and do not bring food or drink inside of a mosque.
4. Modest dress is required. Gown is available for visitors for temporary use.
5. Refrain from applause or clapping hands or yelling in the mosque. Serenity is appreciated.
From: https://www.travel-impact-newswire.com/2014/11/advancing-asean-cultural-integration-mosque-tours-workshop-held-in-bangkok/

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At the top of Soi 36 is OP Garden, a pleasant gallery / specialty shopping space. The Serindia gallery is worth a visit. The plus for walkers is that is also has easily accessible, clean, air-con toilets. As you walk along Th. Charoen Khrung you will pass Assumption College and if your thing is meteorites and fossils the little shop 30 metres from Soi 36 is the place to visit. Once you’ve had your celestial fix, you will come to the Grand Postal Building – Thailand’s first Post Office (1883). The current building was built in the 1940s and was designed by Miw Jitrasen Aphaiwong (who also designed the National Stadium) and Phrasarot Ratnanimman. The style is a marked departure from previous styles or as Lawrence Chua put it, the “purging Thai architecture of its royalist symbolism and hierarchical spatial organization”. A combination of modernism and nationalist aspirations. The statue in front of the building is of Field Marshal Prince Bhanurangsi Savangwongse, elder brother of King Chulalongkorn and considered the founder of the Thai postal service. Long gone now, but the footpath outside the post office was where avid stamp collectors used to gather to trade. Nowadays they inhabit a small corner inside the gates.

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Immediately after the Postal Building is Soi 32 running down to the river. As you walk toward the river you will see a recent mural by 24 year old Sofia Castellanos, a Mexican artist.

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                                                           http://www.bangkokpost.com/lifestyle/interview/1234602/on-the-wall

Further along the soi is flanked by a long wall on the right hand side upon which are a series of murals by various artist including KULT, Phat, Bonus, and Alex Face among others. Check the opposite wall for a small, golden stencil.

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7) Return to Th.Charoen Khrung and walk the short distance to Soi 30. Turn left here and on your right you will see the side face of a building covered in work by Italian artists Sten and Lex. Essentially stencil artists, they have been working since around 2000. They were pioneers in the field of stencil art in Italy. Their recent work is a combination of stencil and paper and from Wikipedia: they glue a stencil cut from paper on the wall and paint over it. They then destroy the matrix and apply its scraps to the wall, thus allowing them to become part of the work itself. The bits of matrix applied to the wall wear out over time, producing work in a state of constant change. Unlike stencil work in general, the images thus created cannot be reproduced, rendering each piece original and unique. I watched them do this one during the Bukruk festival but I have to say it doesn’t do much for me.

Sten and Lex

This area is set to become a new ‘creative space’ according to some – see the article for some information:

http://bk.asia-city.com/city-living/news/duangrit-bunnag-expanding-his-creative-space-charoenkrung?platform=hootsuite

8) Continue along this road as it swings right to go past the Royal Orchid Sheraton and the River City Complex. But just before the hotel is the Portuguese Embassy. The artist VHILS has chipped away at the Embassy’s concrete rendered wall to produce a stunning mural.

From the hotel, you can get a ferry across the river for 4.5 baht to Thonburi and the start of The Big Circle Walk (Walk 2) but that’s for another day. The road you are on now swings back to Th.Charoen Khrung. Walk to the intersection and turn left. Just a few metres along you will see a large double mural – one by Korean artist Daehyun Kim  (his style is called  ‘moonassi’)  and another, above it, by Thai artist, Bon (given name: Danaiphat Lersputtitrakan)

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The good news is that a new cafe has opened just next to Daehyun Kim‘s piece. It’s run by artist / chef Chet:

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Follow this Soi down to the end and to your left you will come across the Speedy Grandma art space.

Walking group at Speedy Grandma:

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9) Across from these works (on Th. Charoen Krung) and a little further on is a range of small works along a short alley.

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Opposite this alley on a side wall is a larger work by Saddo.

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10) It is now time to return to River city, but this time rather than re-trace your steps, walk down the narrow Soi 24. On your left you will pass an art space / coffee shop called the Soy Sauce Factory – good for refreshment before diving into the narrow alley ways that await. Keep an eye out for a golden stencil that is a sister piece to the one you might have seen on Soi 32 – it’s on the wall of a car space on your right.

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11) As you reach the River City Complex you will see a push bike tour company in front of you (Co van Kessel Bangkok Tours). These are good tours for your overseas visitors to do. Immediately to the right you will see a small laneway. The laneway widens and passes the Kalawar Church (Kalawar from the Thai transliteration of Calvary) which was built on land given by Rama 1 to the Portuguese. You will also pass the site of the original Siam Commercial Bank, Thailand’s first bank. The bank was established in 1907 and the grand building here was built in 1910. Now it is time to wander through the narrow alleys of Talad Noi.

On your left you will come to a little alley (‘trok’ in Thai) called Trok San Chao Rong Kueak.

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Walk down here to discover two old Chinese temples – especially if you wish wealth and good fortune……

and enjoy some quirky artworks.

**These last two photos were taken by Louise Saddington

What was this steel spike used for….mooring your boat 100 years ago?

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Your goal is to return to Th.Charoen Khrung so follow your nose as you wander about.

Whatever you do, try not to miss what must be one of the more quirky coffee shops in Bangkok – in an old Chinese house with a courtyard swimming pool. On my visits I have seen fashion shoots and scuba diving training. Unusual place. Reputedly over 200 years old (I think that’s stretching it a it) it is the So Heng Tai Mansion and is still the home of the descendants of the original owner.

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12) Upon returning to Th.Charoen Khrung at Soi 20 (or Soi 29 on the opposite side) walk a short way until you reach the intersection of Th.Charoen Khrung and Th.Songwat. Turn left into Th.Songwat. After a fire in the Sampeng area, King Rama V pushed for the contruction of this important commercial road. It follows the river so as you walk along the left hand side you can see lanes and alleys leading to the water. You will walk past numerous metal working shops along the way. The quirky riverside hotel called the Loy La Long is along this road (behind Wat Pathum Khongka). You have to walk through the temple to find it – there was no signage I could find.

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Just after Wat Pathum Khongka you come to a busy intersection. Th.Songwat continues to the left tracking the river and is now one way with traffic coming towards you. Some classic old buildings along this section. Look to the right and you cannot miss the large pink mural by female Romanian artist Aitch.

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From her webpage:

Artist and illustrator,  she has been part of numerous art shows in Romania (Timisoara, Sibiu, Bucharest, Iasi), but also in cities like Vienna, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Berlin, Aalborg, San Jose, etc.
She started drawing weird chubby fantastic creatures during her studies at the University of Art and Design in Timisoara, Romania, as a sort of subversive reaction to the academical ways of treating human anatomy.
Her artistic work ranges from pink, cute, elegant, to sometimes creepy, semi-religious, bizarre characters, mixed in surrealistic sets.
She also applies her experience with graphics, painting and character design in creating artsy objects, urban toys and clothes, often showed in fairs and stores in Bucharest, Berlin, Hannover, Barcelona or Madrid.

group-pick

A little further on you will come to a vacant lot on your left. Straight ahead you will see a large work by Spanish artist Aryz. this artist specialises in big pieces – I think he is really great. (http://www.widewalls.ch/artist/aryz/)

Aryz

Opposite is work by Belgium artist Roa. He is 40 years old this year (2016) and was boen in Ghent, Belgium. He specialises in big animals – usually related to the country or area he finds himself.

Roa

Below is a numbat done while he was in Freemantle, WA.

From (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ROA_%28artist%29):

1024px-Freopedia_piccolo_gnangarra_-103

13) Homeward bound. Choose your own adventure from here, but you can retrace your steps along Th.Songwat to where it crosses Th.Charoen Khrung and becomes Th. Kao Lan and within a few hundred metres you will find yourself at Hualamphong Station and the MRT…….or……if your timing is right (after 5pm on every day except Monday, you could have a sundowner at a special little bar nearby called Samsara.

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