My first visit to the Chao Phraya River in Thailand was thirty-two years ago and was amazing. My second visit was thirty years later and was a different experience. The photos in this collage were taken on my first visit to Thailand.
We passed this river many times as we were taken around to visit many of the popular sites. It runs through Bangkok. The city itself is fascinating and I observed the Thai people to be very hard-working and very good cooks. I loved Thai cooking from that visit even when it wasn’t a popular cuisine in the Western world as it has become now. We visited Wat Arun and the Grand Palace which are architecturally very beautiful. As with most conducted tours, we stayed in fine hotels and were shown everything that was fine of the Thai way of life.
We were taken on the river for an afternoon excursion. This was the closest to the life of the ordinary Thai folk that I experienced while I was there. Many people live along the river throughout Thailand. They eat, sleep, work, raise families, garden, and all the ordinary daily activities that others do who are not on the river. These homes were very simple structures and there was often a little ladder alongside so that you could climb out of the boat and get to your home. As you will see from one of the smaller photos, even though the house is very rickety, there are beautiful bouganvilleas blooming from this structure. Many homes were like this.
This struck a primal chord in me and I realized that every person wants to make their own dwelling place beautiful even if it’s just what we, in the Western world, would call a shack. Those bouganvilleas were growing abundantly and added to the beauty of this home.
The second small photo shows Thai people in their little boats. They do many things in these boats apart from getting around. One little boat could carry many people and their food supplies where we would need a car to do our shopping. I learnt from that visit on the river that a very rich life was being lived there. It wasn’t the wealth of luxury homes and big cars. It was the wealth of the river, the little boats, the house with the bouganvilleas in bloom, and the shared experiences of the people and the life that was being lived along the river. These were some of the thoughts that I had on that first visit. I took lots of pictures and took in everything that I saw with a kind of awe.
On my second visit, I rented a condo which overlooked the Chao Phraya and was on one of the higher floors with a spectacular view of the City as well. I didn’t want the hotel experience this time. I didn’t take as many photos. In fact, I was looking for a photo of the view from this apartment to put in the collage and couldn’t find one. There was a lovely Thai temple that I could see from the balcony and I heard the sounds (gong) every morning and was soothed by this. The boats which were bigger ones this time plied the river back and forth all day carrying locals and tourists alike. I myself took the boat many times at the stop closest to the building. I was living as a local this time and it was a good experience.
Geographically, this was the same Chao Phraya River in Thailand. However, time had brought about many changes in me and my outlook as well. I was glad to see the progress that had been made since my first visit on the river. Many of the dwellings were newer and the boats were bigger. I was just happy to be there and “live” like a local. It was a time to soak up the experiences and not spend my time capturing photos to show to my friends and family. Changes do take place all the time and I was reminded of that by my experiences there and this saying: ”You cannot step into the same river twice.” ~Heraclitus, in Diogenes Laertius, Lives