Today, another trip south along the river to the pier that should lead deep into the Chinese community that is Bangkoks Chinatown - into the deepest, darkest nooks and crannies. Well, that's the theory anyway, but so far Chinatown Bangkok has not really been what I would call very Chinesey, probably because I've only been traversing the fringes en route elsewhere. Today though will be a concerted effort to discover the sights, smells and sounds of China in Bangkok.
Ratchawong is the pier I need to get off at - its the next stop after Memorial Bridge. Quite a few tourists getting off here too so there must be something to see! Into a cul-de-sac and a collection of tuk tuks and buses, although how the buses managed to get into this narrow street and turn around is somewhat difficult to imagine. There is definately more of a Chinese presence to this part of town. The architecture, small terraces with shuttered windows and those big red globe lanterns over doorways, all big clues telling me that this really must be Chinatown. Narrow dark streets, so narrow that a kind of canopy has been constructed thus protecting stall holders and shoppers from hot sun and monsoon rains - yes, you guessed it, another market!
Chinese imports in abundance, mainly plastic products from cheap toys to monsoon ponchos and pouches to protect those electronic gadgets. Lots of what we call 'tack', products that look and feel substandard. Equally there are items of better quality and still reasonably priced, just got to look harder, usually towards the back of aircon lock- ups. Plenty of fashion accessories of all kinds satisfying any female, and male in some cases, vanity.
Light at the end of the tunnel, well, the end of this street anyway. Out onto a main road and looking around the place resembles a district of India rather than any Chinese or Thai neighbourhood. Saree shops, plenty of them alongside units stacked from top to bottom with fabrics - this time with an Indian flavour, so this then must be 'Little India'. Further along, a shopping centre, another good opportunity to cool off for a while. 'India Emporium' its called. 3 floors of fabrics and garments and a food court on floor 4. This is the place to find all those Indian foods, and it i,s entirely Indian. Samosa, curries, south Indian, north Indian, dosa - just like being back in India! Prices are reasonable too, about 40-50 b per item or dish.