Up for a fight……..The forest canopy offers protection from the sun and a cool breeze blows through the trees but soon it has clouded over and black clouds form. Fortunately while thunder can be heard in the distance, it does not rain. With an area map supplied we head for one of the attraction in Phra Pradang. It’s a small park supporting a visitor centre for Siamese fighting fish. The display is a bit of a disappointment but there’s no deigning the trouble taken to provide information in English about this native species. This is not Vietnam and the display is free although donations are accepted to feed the fish.
Bicycle rental at the pier at Bang Nam Phueng Nok (1), Fighting fish park and gallery (5) Bangkrachao, Samut Prakan Province
Sri Nakhon Khuen Khan Park……..By now we’ve travelled several kilometers and find our way to Sri Nakhon Khuen Khan Park and it soon becomes clear this is no ordinary park. The name Bangkrachao now refers to this area of forested land. As it’s reserved only for bicycles it explains why there are so many for rent at the piers and you certainly do need a bicycle here to really appreciate the beauty of this natural habit. It soon becomes clear how rich and varied this ecosystem is, adapted to mixture of both saline and fresh water. Importantly the local authorities are taking step to not only preserve these forests but where possible to expand them. Several kilometers of cycle paths lead through the park and at every turn, information boards refer you to the flora and fauna that can be found in the area and how each species has a role to play in maintaining the biodiversity of the forest. This is a real education available so close to a major city. Without realising it we’ve spent nearly two hours in the park. At least double that would not be too much. At 3pm it’s time to move on.
Sri Nakhon Khuen Khan Park, Bangkrachao, Samut Prakan Province
Bang Nam Phueng Nok Floating Market……..Bang Nam Phueng Nok Floating Market is located just a couple of kilometers from the pier we arrived at. I understand it is only open at weekends, which is why I decided to come here today. When I arrive some of the shops have already closed but enough remain open to appreciate its function. These days the market is hardly floating but plenty of evidence exists that the klongs were in constant use at one time. While it’s tempting to just sit back and eat along the side of the klong, I feel I must head back to the pier.
Neglected……..Not too far from the pier is evidence that Bangkrachao is lost in time. Two temple buildings dating back some two hundred and fifty years are in poor condition. Evidence of early settlement in the area by Mon people can be seen in the structure of the viharn at Wat Bang Nam Phueng Nok. A decide to make a donation to help with the restoration of these important buildings. Not so neglected along a concrete path overlooking the Chao Phraya River is the Bangkok Tree House, a favorite place to dine. It’s time to hand back the bicycles and wait for the ferry but instead of looking forward at the container ships heading for Bangkok Port, I prefer to look back. It’s hard to imagine that before modern Bangkok was founded in 1782, the whole area that Bangkok now occupies would have been virgin swamp and mangrove forest.
End game……..When I reflect on the day's events I cannot say that Bangkrachao will win every catagory of the sites included on my website but in terms of value for money, I would be hard pressed to find a rival. I've calculated that I've covered as much at 20 km on a bicycle today, just what the doctor ordered. Then as I check the map again there's still an awful lot I didn't get to see in Bangkrachao. Does that mean another trip? Hope so!
As I pick up the car from Wat Bang Na Nok the light is already fading. It will be dark when I reach Kubon but there I can stop for dinner and retire to the residence to prepare for commentary of the MFL game between Bardon Hill and Hereford FC. It’s starts at 10pm local time but I will force myself to stay awake. It is worth it.