When you look at Bangkok on a map, you see this enigmatic little patch of green just off center. It’s not a trick. It really exists. Historically, few people fought the traffic to get here. But that’s changing, and modern encroachment on the green lungs of Bangkok is threatening this not-quite-hidden gem of Bangkok.
Life in Thailand is hot. Welcome to the tropics! But this year seems to have gotten hotter earlier. Or maybe we’re just getting old and are fixating on the weather. Of more importance to this issue is a lovely place in Bangkok to visit that allows some respite from the heat.
That place is Prapadaeng — also called Bang Krachao — Bangkok’s “green lung”. We mentioned it briefly on a previous episode, promising to return to the topic with a much more in depth discussion. To give the topic the proper consideration, Greg invites his friend Paul to talk about this hidden-in-plain-sight key area of Bangkok that is, saddly, in danger of losing it’s luster. Because development.
Today on the show we speak with six-year resident Paul Mueller. This American expat made this amazing meander in the Chao Phraya river his home after a solo bike trip led him to a rickety looking dock with an even more rickety looking ferry attached, but with an enticing green area on the other side of the river. He was stunned by the peace, quiet and space — things that are hard to find in urban Bangkok, where we literally live on top of one another. But not in Bang Krachao. Cars are rare in the interior, and even motorbikes aren’t terribly common. Instead people walk or ride bikes to get from place to place, harkening to a simpler time.
But those small bikeways are getting blocked, trees are being uprooted, and that abundance of space is threatened. Not by condos (yet), but by people who are choosing to make their home there, taking advantage of the tranquility of the area. As in the rest of Thailand, if someone is properly connected, they can probably side-step a few zoning restrictions. The floating market is growing in popularity — and that’s a good thing — but that’s bringing it’s own challenges. More cars. More room for those cars to park. And of course more businesses to sell stuff to the people who drive those cars. You know… development. There’s a lot of pressure on the area, and we can only hope that the commitment to keeping Bangkok’s green lung, well… green, stays the course. In the meantime, you might want to plan your trip sooner rather than later. Just in case.
Here’s a short video you can watch that talks about the challenges the green lungs of Bangkok are facing. Or you can just listen to the show to learn more from Paul’s perspective. That’s a good idea!
Love, Loathe, or Leave?
Let’s not beat around the bush. Sometimes, when you feel the call of nature in Thailand, sometimes the porcelain throne is actually a porcelain hole in the ground. That’s called a squat toilet. And, well… you’ll figure it out. Quirky? Sure. Pleasant? Less so. But it’s something you’ll likely encounter. And something that will make you appreciate your western toilet.
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