Saturday, 26 November 2022

We've seen better days (part 2)

Pin Khlao bridge
After chatting to Bom, I walked down to the river and watched tourists pile into a Chao Phraya River ferry boat.

From Pin Khlao I took a taxi to my next stop, Talad Phlu, the market where we lived before our move into town 13 years ago, and where I still have a few friends. That took another 20min and cost 100 baht.

The driver, aged in his 60s, was one of those crafty, silent ones who engages in cursory conversation but turns a deaf ear to anything he doesn't want to hear.

As we were heading to the market I saw the turnoff to Pran Nok Road, the quick way back which I would take to get home in years past. However, I failed to alert him in time.

I am sure he would have refused anyway, as it's cheaper than the long way back via Thoet Thai Road, at the rear of the market, which his scheming type will always take if given a choice.

I spent the next few hours at the market, with a former masseur friend who now sells fried food out the front of her shop with her sister-in-law.

We watched TV and sat about as customers dribbled past. It was a fun way to spend an idle afternoon.

Talad Phlu itself is lively, especially in the evening when office workers and students come out for a bite. The market is full of streetside food places, and even some franchise eateries. Several jostle for space under overhead bridges where traffic does a U-turn before heading back into town.

The shops along the main road look modern, not out of keeping with a stroll through Silom or Siam. And of course Talad Phlu now has its own skytrain link, which it did not have in my day.

But some parts of the market have barely improved: the canal, which long-tailed tourist boats still ply, is the market's teen zone. I sat next to a basketball court under an overhead bridge.

On one side is an old wooden restaurant perched over the canal bank. Many years ago I had a meal there with my ruthless young friend Kew, who fended off a hostile diner wielding a paper-cutter.

The eatery, and concrete structure

A small wooden pier used to sit on this side of the bridge, but it is now gone. Another one sits on the other side of the bridge.

A glimpse inside the eatery
It serves diners who arrive by boat for a meal at a Thai restaurant on that side.  A bunch of school kids had gathered there but I could see few adults around.

A strange concrete structure like a pillbox still sits on my side. I suspect it was built there for the old pier, now gone.

Teens have defaced it with graffiti. While I was there, one lad in school uniform greeted me. A secondary school is about 50m down the way. He clambered on top to smoke a cigarette and call out to his friends on the other side of the bridge.

"Hey, bring over the bag of glue!" he shouted to his mates. They ignored him, so he climbed down again, muttering to himself.

On a previous trip to Talad Phlu, I took the skytrain and walked from the station on Ratchapruek Road.
The Ratchadapisek Rd entrance, and First One market

On my left, I noticed someone had bowled a block of old houses close to my old apartment on Ratchadaphisek Road, just before the overpass at the entrance of the township.

In its place is the First One night market with an enormous concreted car park area, and barely a shrub or tree in sight. It sits almost empty during the day, as its name suggests, and reminds me of a dusty cattleyard.

Land cleared for First One market...

...First One market opens

Signs of progress, perhaps, though I could think of sweeter, more intimate spots to visit at night. 

The trip from Talad Phlu back into town on the 205-route bus cost less than 20 baht and took another half an hour. I left before peak hour traffic set in. And yes, dear reader, I have taken a motorsai, subway and skytrain out there as an alternative means of transport, but it takes just as long.

now, see here

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