Thursday, 8 March 2012

Snake Farm Bangkok 6th March 2012

So far so good..

Tuesday, just over a week into my Thailand expedition and have so far survived unscathed. The car is king on the streets of Bangkok. There are cars everywhere, but for the most part on the move. An inevitable consequence of any nation aspiring to Western standards I suppose - noise, fumes and big roads to try and cross. Actually crossing the roads, the busy wide ones is less of a problem since there are controlled crossings at frequent intervals. Some motorbikes, but not the thousands I had experienced in Vietnam, and the driving looks quite disciplined with drivers sticking to the rules, at traffic lights especially. If it wasn't for the fact that traffic cops are everywhere, every corner, junction and even public car parks, then the scenario might be very different.

Snake farm today, the second attempt at this since my last visit there ended somewhat prematurely! The fastest and cheapest way of getting there that involves the least amount of walking Is to take the express boat south along the river, getting off at the Central pier. Walking from the Khao San area is possible of course  - allow about 2 hours and plenty of bottled water.  Thammasat canteen to grab some lunch before getting the boat. This time it's coconut curry - almost as delicious as the Thai yellow curry, and only 44p for a good plateful. Hot, so I'm walking in the covered walkway and past the entrance to the library. A quick look around here, just out of curiosity. Only members allowed into the library since electronic gates control access but there is a coffee and cake stand here. It's a real coffee place, the full bean roasted stuff. It's 44p for a modest cup of Americano, just a bit more for anything else, and the place is fully air conditioned too, quite a little oasis in the middle of Bangkok. I can see this becoming a regular visit, just as regular as the canteen is!

On the boat heading south to Central Pier taking advantage of the refreshing breeze. From the pier, it's basically head north until the main Rama highway and follow that to the left. It's taking a good few minutes to cross the highway, with traffic light timings not particularly aligned to the needs of the pedestrian, but after a good 35 minutes walking the snake farm entrance emerges on the right, actually on the Rama road.

The Snake farm is attached to the Red Cross and is a research and production facility into making anti-venom. Closes at 4.30 and it's now 3.15. Normally costs 200 b to get in here but since it's late and I've missed the demos I'm waived the fee - nice of them, thank you. Demos in snake handling according to a sign on the wall. I assume this is throwing around a Python and letting the audience get up close and personal. There is also a how to demo on venom extraction I believe, so that might have been interesting. Anyway, I've missed all that action today so I'll just take a wander around and tease a few of the inmates here. There don't really appear to be that many exhibits that I can see, maybe half a dozen glass tanks and a few snake pits in the middle. Nothing is moving apart from a few snakes in one tank and getting any reasonable photos is proving frustrating. Further along is a rather large cage, about the size of a bungalow. Its the King Cobra's residence, a few of them actually and quite active. Scary moments here as one of them decides to try and get personal! Smaller snakes hanging from twigs look at me rather ominously then slip quickly away into a pond.  A good 20 minutes here watching the Cobras slither up and down branches. Overall, the place was disappointing, even more so if I had to pay the £4.40 entrance. In comparing this with the Snake house in Sihanoukville, 4 out of 10. Snake house was free, easily triple the varieties on show and photography was comparatively easy, and it was free. I don't think even with the demos, £4.40 justifies the fee to get in here, Red Cross or not!

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