Published on : Thursday, February 14, 2013
Thailand’s waterways were once the nation’s lifeline for communication and transport. Today Bangkok’s majestic Chao Phraya River and connecting maze of canals, known in Thai as “klong”, tempt visitors to explore the capital’s thriving age-old lifestyle and rich heritage. At Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort & Spa, experiences of this unique cultural blend are enhanced by a local’s insider knowledge. Step aboard a traditional longtail boat and discover the klong network with Klong Guru, Visanu Kidkarn.
Visanu spent the first ten years of his life in a traditional canal home, completely unaware that his klong roots would have a great impact on his guest service work at a luxury five star hotel. Beyond being able to offer guests a wealth of klong knowledge, whenever Visanu feels stressed by the hectic city pace, he seeks relaxation and a taste of cultural authenticity by hopping on a longtail boat and traversing the klongs, which to him have always felt like home.
Over time, Visanu has become more and more familiar with the most interesting klongs and places of cultural significance. Above all he appreciates the meeting of two different worlds. Outside of the klong system he is immersed in a “normal city lifestyle”. Just minutes later upon entering a klong, he feels as though he has moved through a portal into a completely different realm, where Thailand’s age-old way of life persists in its natural, simple, calm and warmly generous manner. Based on his personal experience, Visanu created a special tour for his friends, and so when Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort & Spa decided to launch a special klong boat tour for guests, he immediately volunteered for the position of accompanying Klong Guru.
The Klong Guru Tour takes approximately four hours and commences along the Chao Phraya River, before branching off into the heart of the city’s fascinating klong labyrinth. Designed to showcase the city’s hidden cultural gems, the excursion reveals unique glimpses of timeless local life and traditional wooden canal homes that jut out over the water. The journey includes encounters with the floating plants farm, exploration of glittering temples that were created in the Ayutthaya era, and the opportunity to participate in the Thai custom of feeding fish for luck.
Lunch comprises one of Thailand’s signature street dishes – the noodle specialty “Pad Thai” – which is enjoyed at ‘The Artist’s House’. At this intriguing gallery, guests can browse a collection of locally inspired drawings and learn for themselves how to create a Thai painting. They are also invited to try their hand at making a cultural handicraft, such as carving, making an artistic paper print or painting a traditional Thai mask. The local art gallery visit concludes with the culture rich highlight of a traditional Thai puppet show, providing guests with a wonderful chance to see how the kingdom’s puppetry dramas bring ancient myths and legends to life.
Returning to the resort, the final leg of tour rejoins the Chao Phraya River, passing by iconic landmarks such as the Grand Palace and Temple of Dawn.