Life on Chao Phraya River & Ko Kret Island, Bangkok - Thailand Sept.2015
The Chao Phraya is the major river in Thailand, with its low alluvial plain forming the center of the country. It flows through Bangkok and then into the Gulf of Thailand. In the English-language media in Thailand, the name Chao Phraya River is often translated as a river of kings. The Chao Phraya begins at the confluence of the Ping and Nan rivers at Nakhon Sawan in Nakhon Sawan Province. After this, it flows south for 372 kilometers from the central plains to Bangkok and the Gulf of Thailand. In Chai Nat, the river then splits into the main course and the Tha Chin River, which then flows parallel to the main river and exits in the Gulf of Thailand about 35 kilometers west of Bangkok in Samut Sakhon. In the low alluvial plain which begins below the Chainat Dam, there are many small canals that split off from the main river. The canals are used for the irrigation of the region's rice paddies. Cities along the Chao Phraya include, from north to south, Nakhon Sawan Province, Uthai Thani Province, Chai Nat Province, Sing Buri Province, Ang Thong Province, Ayutthaya Province, Pathum Thani Province, Nonthaburi Province, Bangkok, and Samut Prakan Province. These cities are among the most historically significant and densely populated settlements of Thailand due to their access to the waterway. In Bangkok, the Chao Phraya is a major transportation artery for a network of river buses, cross-river ferries, and water taxis ("longtails"). More than 15 boat lines operate on the rivers and canals of the city, including commuter lines. Chao Phraya underwent several man-made modifications during the Ayutthaya period. Several shortcut canals were constructed to bypass large loops in the river, shortening the trip from the capital city to the sea. The course of the river has since changed to follow many of these canals. In 1538, a 3 km long canal was dug at the order of King Chairachathirat. It was called "Khlong Lat", and today forms a part of Khlong Bangkok Noi. It shortened the route by 13-14 km for ships from the Gulf of Siam to the then-capital city, Ayutthaya. In 1542, a two-kilometer-long canal, "Khlong Lat Bangkok", was completed. The Chao Phraya then diverted along the new canal, its old course becoming part of Khlong Bangkok Noi and Khlong Bangkok Yai. It is said to have shortened the river route by 14 km. In 1608, a seven-kilometer-long "Khlong Bang Phrao" canal was completed and has shortened Chao Phraya's original route by 18 km. In 1636, the "Khlong Lat Mueang Nonthaburi" was completed. In 1722, the two-kilometer-long "Khlong Lat Kret Noi" shortened the Chao Phraya by 7 km. This route formed the island of Ko Kret. (Source:wikipedia.org)
The Chao Phraya river is an important transportation factor in Bangkok. I used it frequently in my travels around the city. I traveled several times just to see and photograph the houses built on the river. Mosques emphasizing the existence of the Muslim community towards the north of the river, then old simple wooden houses built on the river in front of the newly built skyscrapers, the magnificent Wat Pho temple. I took pictures of it from the boat. One of these trips was the island of Ko Kret, located in the middle of the river in the north. To see I visited this man-made island built in 1722 with my wife. We first went to Nontaburi, the last stop on the river, and from there we went to the island with a motorboat paying 2 baht. The distance is too short. There was a walking path around the island, and the houses had been built on wooden poles to protect them from river raid. Sculptures of roosters adorned the entrance of one of the temples. The rooster philosophically means light/sun, or enlightenment. It is a symbol compatible with the temple and its teachings, but this is the first time I have encountered it in a Buddhist temple. On the way back, I saw a local photographer taking a family photo in a very simple photo studio. That moment was very nice. I took the photo of that moment with the permission of the photographer.