A Walking Day
There are days when we can’t stay put, the need to get out. This often happens to me and I take advantage of it for what I like to do, walking. Visiting temples, museums, parks, and especially wandering in the districts and take photos of life around. So, on this Buddhist Day, a Buddha day, as the Thai people say, I decided to go to Chinatown in the Talat Noi district, which means small market in English.
Sieng Kong Zone
When I go to Chinatown I always start from Hua Lamphong MRT station, I pass in front of the Traimit Temple to the Chinese Gate, but this time I am not going go to Yaowarat district but to the small alleys of Talad Noi, to visit one of the oldest Chinese communities in Chinatown. So after at the Chinese gate, I turn left on Charoen Krung until the roundabout where two houses draw my attention, my first photos. Then I take to the right and go up the street Songwat and I came across the Bangkok Story hostel (Under Renovation) which is also a nice cafe bar Parisian bistro style. I noticed graffiti that deserved a photo despite the motorbikes parked in front, and in a few steps, I found myself in the middle of piles of scrap metal, old car bodies, scooters and other relics that seem to have been there for decades an forever. From there, wandered through the lively Soi Wanit 2 for a while, then followed the signboard of the River View Guest House that led me along the Chao Phraya river, where after the smell of mechanical oils a breath of fresh air did me good. Back on my steps, on the corner of the street where the Baan Udom hotel stands, I took the small alley where some old buildings witness the time and history of this district, of which an exhibition house of the 200 years celebration of the of Sino-Thai relationship, closed now.
Covered Parking and Chao Zhou Shi Kong Sanctuary
A few steps and I am in a covered parking lot where chanting stir my ear. They are from the Chao Zhou Shi Hokkien sanctuary one of the oldest in Bangkok and today there is a ceremony called Buddhist Observance, it’s all about Dharma. After I ask permission, I stayed there for nearly one hour, great. Without those chanting, I wouldn’t have paid attention.
Old Fiat and 200 Years Sol Heng Tai Mansion
Leaving the sanctuary after a few strides and passing the River View Guest House I am on a square and to my left is a big tree with colorful strips ribbons (a spirit tree), and next is an abandoned Fiat 500, looking with a dreamy look at it looks like a painting. I walked in the small alleys around and a cool man covered with many lucky charms, and amulets protection on his chest said hello and spoke to me in English, at least the few words he knew, in a basket he had some of his collection for sale, a kind person. A little further I saw a hairdressing salon for men in the open air, 50 baht the cut, nice, maybe next time. I return to the square and straight ahead after the Fiat enter the narrow alley, in no time to the left two lanterns and a beautiful red door ajar, and here is the Sol Heng Tai mansion that I wanted to visit. Built-in Hokkien architectural style is the heritage of a rich and influential family at the time. The descendant after numerous attempts by investors who would have liked to turn this unique building into a hotel, but being a diving instructor, built a swimming pool and opened a diving school. Very beautiful porcelain and teak ornaments, a visitor told me that the writing is Cantonese, I can only believe her. The entrance is free, so I thought would be nice to have a drink. I had a cold coffee with milk, 80 baht served on the 2nd floor and relaxed for a while in this quiet setting.
Ganders and Graffiti
Exiting Sol Heng I took to the left towards the pier of the Navy Department and heard strange noises behind a fence, I approached and there were three Ganders (geese?) I do not know if I disturbed them or if they were happy to see me? but when I walked away I didn’t hear them anymore. I pass the Rong kuak shrine, which has the same age as Sol Heng but was closed. Continued in the alley of the same name as the shrine, an alley that in the past was the center of shoe manufacturing but is now an attraction for its graffiti.
Siam Commercial Bank, Holy Rosary Church, School and Rain
At the end of the soi on my right a square, and the Siam commercial bank the oldest Bank of Thailand (1906), which I learned was designed by the Italian architect Annibale Rigotti. Just next door the Rosary Church a Gothic-style Catholic church originally built by the Portuguese in the 18th century, known in Bangkok as Kalawar from the Thai transcription of Calvary ‘Kalawario’. There is also a nursery school and a secondary public school for boys, the oldest in Thailand. I had never visited this place before and out of curiosity, I went in, the right move. After a visit to the church and look at this full of energy youth around, it started raining. Some kids seemed to have fun but the teachers quickly got them to shelter. No way I can leave, no umbrella, and in a monsoon rain, an umbrella is useless anyway.
Yotha Street and Talat Noi
The rain finally stopped after 40 minutes, although it was still falling a few drops, I decided to leave, went out and took left to Thanon Yotha the first on the right, where I met bunny burrow, a small hostel, I like the name and that made me smile. Adjacent is the nice, friendly bar-restaurant The House. At the end of the street, I went left on Charoen Krung road and crossed it to take a look at the funky soul bar, where live bands play on Wednesday and Saturday. opens from 18:00 to midnight. The Talat Noi market is two steps away and thought about eating something there, bad luck, small restaurants, and soup vendors are closed after the rain. However, I walked around in these small alleys where everything was quiet at this time of day,
Vietnamese Buddhist Temple
Back on Charoen Krung road, an urgent need to go to the toilet was pressing and a temple was in the right place at the right time. The toilets are always in the back of the temples and are clean. The name of the temple, Wat Uphairatbamrung in Thai, and easier to remember, Chua Khanh Va in Vietnamese. I didn’t know there is a Vietnamese temple in Bangkok, unfortunately, it was getting late and was
closed, I’ll visit it when I get back to the neighborhood. Time to go back home, I crossed the Charoen Krung road to take Kao Lam street on the right where the name of Unforgotten on a small square with plenty of plates (for sale) on the wall attracted my attention. The Unforgotten is a small and well located B&B, Bar, and Restaurant close to Chinatown, MRT station and Hua Lamphong railway station for those traveling by train. Before getting to the MRT the National Anthem is played and everyone stands still for 44 seconds, the duration of the anthem. It’s 18.00
A Drink With River View
I recommend in the early evening to have a drink with a very nice view of the Chao Phraya at the River Vibe Bar from the top floor of the River View Guest House.
Talat Noi on foot is a very pleasant part of Chinatown no busy lane as in Sampeng an easy walk, not much tourist, take your time. Photographers will have a busy day. If you use the express boat service you can start the stroll from Sri Phraya Pier.
I’m already thinking about my next walking day and have an idea of the neighborhood I will visit. Would you come with me?
If you have any questions, I will be more than happy to help you out