February 19, 2017

Droning Boy: above the lungs of Bangkok

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I'm spending quite a few days in Bangkok on this trip, and wanted to do something a little different... more than just eating at restaurants.  I wanted to do something a little off the beaten path.  And I knew just where I wanted to go.

A few years ago I was privileged to have been invited as a speaker at TEDxVictoriaHarbour, and I was mesmerised by the story of one of my fellow speakers.  Alisa lives on Bang Krachao - a riverine island sometimes referred to as "the lungs of Bangkok".  She talked about her life living on the island, away from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis, in a house built in part with recycled materials.  It sounded so far away from my daily life that I found it intriguing.

So I contacted Alisa and asked for tips on visiting the island, and eventually I made plans to meet up with her for lunch today.  It's Sunday, and the Ban Nam Pheung Floating Market (ตลาดน้ำบางน้ำผึ้ง) - which is just a market by a canal and there aren't any vendors hawking their wares on boats - would be open for us to walk around in.

We took a taxi from Sathorn and crossed the Chao Phraya River on the Bhumibol 1 Bridge, then doubled back to get on the island.  We got dropped off at the market, and after wandering around a little, we did eventually meet up with Alisa and her husband Landry, as well as their adorable daughter.

Among the many vendors at the market was this stall selling traditional peanut candy called khanom tup tap (ขนมตุ๊บตั๊บ) - named for the pounding sound one hears during the process of making it.  The Great One and I were both pretty excited to see it being made.

We found ourselves a place to park for lunch, and ordered up some noodles.  I took a bowl of noodles with pork and pig's blood (ก๋วยเตี๋ยวหมูน้ำตก), and asked for yellow noodles.  This was pretty damn good, if slightly smallish in terms of portion size.

Alisa also bought some fresh vegetarian rice paper rolls, which she had the vendor make for her on the spot, and these came with a fiery dipping sauce.

We also bought ourselves some local strawberries, which were small but very, very ripe.  Guess who was a real big fan of these strawberries and couldn't stop eating them?

Once we were done with lunch, Landry helped me find a place nearby the launch my drone.  I had brought my DJI Mavic Pro with me so that I could fly it over the island, with the skyscrapers of Bangkok in the distance.  Eventually we found a basketball court that provided enough clearing for the task.

Unfortunately, I ran into the same problem as I had in Bali - losing signal between the drone and my remote control before I was able to fly it to my destination.  Despite the lack of radio interference on this island, apparently the mass of trees between me and the drone became a problem.

But I did get a decent view of the city in the distance, and managed to fly it over the market as well as to the river on the southeastern end of the island.  I also helped our local hosts take a family selfie from my drone.  That was kinda fun.

We needed to head back to the city so we could clean up for dinner, and we went back to the market and hopped into the back of a truck that took us to the Bang Krachao Pier (ท่าเรือบางกระจ้าว) on the northern side of the island.

This seemed like a good spot for me to do a little more droning, so I launched the drone up in the air and flew around for a few minutes, getting a much closer look of the skyscrapers across the river.  Then it was a short ride by boat to Khlong Toei Port (ท่าเรือคลองเตย) right across the river to catch a taxi back.

I was pretty glad that I made the trip, and wish that we could have spent more time on the island.  I look forward to going back again, perhaps renting a bicycle to explore more of the island.  And of course to fly my drone again.

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