Thursday, August 30, 2007

Two Walks - Two Days

Have been walking but not blogging. Walked 4 kilometers on the southern side of Onnut road on Wednesday and 6 kilometers on an often done walk to Wat Krathum Sueapla today. I will give more detail another day, maybe the weekend but here are few visual tasters.

Below is a real Bangkok floating market. The fruit and vegetable seller was stopping off at most of the klong-side houses.

Real Floating Market

The rubbish truck depot with the stack of rear axles and differentials I mentioned on Sunday. I took this photo after driving into the landfill area and from the road bridge over Klong Song Hong into the depot.

Rubbish Trucks

The two smoking stacks in Tuesday's photo actually belong to a medical waste incinerator.

Medical Incinerator

The other stack hasn't been used for a while. I do vaguely remember a pilot waste incinerator project from quite a few years back. From the web it sounds like not incinerating is a good thing for the environment.

Unused Incinerator
And finally a gold frog with golden coin in its mouth from Wat Krathum Sueapla. There must be a story about this somewhere.

Gold Frog

Football - Charlton 4-3 Stockport

Catching up. Tuesday night's score from Charlton's Carling Cup game was 4-3. Reading the Charlton blogs there is plenty of excitement and goals at Charlton's ground, the Valley, this season. After leading 2-0 they fell behind to 2-3 before winning 4-3 against Stockport. Wish I was there.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

More on Klong Song Hong

Yesterday was the usual busy Monday so no walk and no blog. Today a bit better as I had to drive the accountant over to Srinakarin Road and I carried on so as to pick up Klong Song Hong further south and walk back to where I left it on Sunday. (This was where the canal split and I had to go with the right, western klong.) See the map below.

It was a 2 kilometer walk down to the southern wall of the rubbish collection vehicle depot. I had seen the northern end on Sunday. There was a few hundred meters between the two points without a walkway. The picture below shows the end of this path.

Pathway on Klong Song Hong

On the right, east, of the klong were Bangkok Metropolitan Authority facilities around the Onnut landfill including the incinerator. Two of the three smoke stacks are visible below.

Onnut Road, Bangkok, incinerator

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Klong Song Hong

Hadn't walked for the last two days so made up for it with a 7.7 km walk today. For the first time walked south of Onnut Road. For two sections of the walk I had to leave the klong as the pathway run out. By the time it ended I had totally lost any sense of direction and though I had reached another main road rather than looping back to Onnut. On the map below the walk is shown with the red dots and I started from the little tail heading to the east.

First went a short distance east on the large Klong Prawet Burirom and then south on a small klong called Song Hong. The pathway stopped a couple of hundred meters short of Onnut Road at a sharp dogleg in the klong, but there was an alley that took me up to Onnut Road. Usually I'm lucky as the pathways tend to go under main roads but this time I had get across Onnut which was busy even on a Sunday. Found an entrance by the bridge to get back onto the klong and headed south.
500 meters along the klong split with the path hugging the right hand klong. In between the two sections was a massive Bangkok council yard for their rubbish collection trucks. You can see this in the photo below. Looked like all the trucks were parked up on a Sunday afternoon. Just in front of the office building was 20 foot stack of rear axels and differentials so I guess they take a beating in normal use. Next time I will get a shot of these.

Klong Song Hong

Followed this klong for about half an hour through fairly un-built on land with a few ponds open for Sunday anglers. When the path stopped there was another alley through a small community onto a lane that took me back to Onnut. Crossed back over Onnut and then turned right onto Pattanakarn Road where I could get back on Klong Prawet Burirom and then back home.

Unusual site on the big canal today was a large dead monitor lizard over a meter long. Seen a few dead dogs and some very large dead fish before but this was a first. Stunk a bit so didn't hang around.

Saturday was a good football day. My team Charlton played badly in the first 45 minutes and went into the break losing two-nil but came out in the second half to win three-two. Maybe things are getting better.

Dead Monitor Lizard

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Finished Yesterday's Walk

Finished the un-walked section from yesterday. (The blue line on yesterday's map.) I started from the southern end and reached the large school in just over half an hour. This are has lots of klongs crossing the open land so many branches off the path I walked. Below is a picture of Klong Wang Yai which was going west from the klong I was on.

A lot of empty land either side of this klong. I don't really understand why land is so expensive in Bangkok when there is so much land undeveloped. In the UK there is a reason because of the regulations and Green Belt policy, but here there isn't this sort of reason.

Not much of interest on this walk. Some fairly rough and recent shacks on the canal side and not much that looked like old communities. There was a plastic Garfield in the water though.

Here is the school at the end of both today's and yesterday's walk.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

New Klong

Drove out to the temple on the Ring Road and parked again. This time it was to follow the new klong I had seen heading southwest. Did this for half an hour and then came back to the car. I still do not have the names of either the klong by the temple or the new one going off it. I do have the name of the temple though, Wat Lat Bua Khao.

On the map the red dots show today's walk while the blue lines show what I need to walk to fill in a gap. Not much to say about the walk. Very rural except where I stopped was a giant school, must have thousands of kids. I will find out the name.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Walking in the Rain

Yesterday afternoon got caught in a good tropical squall. For half an hour it came down in buckets. More rain in bigger drops that I can ever remember in England. I stayed under a bridge for a while but then decided to walk a bit. The big difference to back home is the rain is not cold. Hoping my shoes will dry out some time today.

Added a "Favourite Authors" section on left. I think it's a bloggy thing to do. I was searching out an old book today and then trying to track the author's latest book via the net. Bit of waste as he hasn't published anything since 1989. This was Anthony Price. So I added Graham Greene and John le Carre, (sorry no accent), to Anthony Price.

Why these three? Well Graham Greene as being simply the best story-teller from the UK since the war. Le Carre as he seems like the natural successor to Greene and I'm enjoying his move to the left as he gets older. A bit like Tony Benn in politics. And Anthony Price because once picked up, I could never put a book of his down.

Strange as I have nothing in common with any of these guys. They were all public school boys and relatively well off.

Football - Stoke 2-1 Charlton

Lost on the late game on Saturday. Reports suggest we didn't play that bad. Hope not as one point from six isn't good. Andy Hunt, who played so well for Charlton, is asking for copies of old season highlight videos as his have deteriated in Belize. Good luck to him. His blog is at

Monday, August 20, 2007

Crap Days

Yesterday and today aren't that great. No walks and today especially, no energy. Took a couple of pills to sleep last night, woke up with my arm feeling like it was on fire so took a couple more. Not so great today.

Sunday was really upset with some long-distance interference in our life here by some upcountry religious idiot. Got really heated and I jumped in the pickup and went for a drive. Got a bit Jesse Gump then, kept on driving. Started going east, then northeast then decided northwest and north. Thought I might drive all the way to Chiang Mai and sleep the morning in the mountains.

Sense kicked in and turned back after dinner in Tesco-Lotus supermarket at Lopburi. Cost of fuel was becoming embarrassing and I had better get it in for a service before I really do it. Still did a 500km round trip. Pretty sure I could do Chiang Mai in one go while still keeping the speed and under 100 kph.

Having written this I just decided to go out for a walk. Must be feeling better.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Google Earth of Walking Area

A series of four overlapping sections from Google Earth from west to east. There is scale on the third picture. The red dots show pathways along the klongs I have walked.

Klong Prakhanong to Srinakarin Road
Srinakarin Road to Pattanakan Road
Pattanakan Road to Wat Krathum Sueapla
Wat Krathum Sueapla to the Ring Road (smaller scale)

Early Maps Showing The Klongs

(Editing this post much later I have probably got it wrong on the old maps. The canals they show are more likely to refer to the other canal linking the Chao Phraya to the Bang Pakong, Klong Saen Saeb, which was built 40 years earlier. I am not sure on the waterway shown south of the Petrio Canal on the British map as this looks too far south for Klong Prawet Burirom.)

No walk today as never left this computer, just too busy. It's a bit late but I wanted to upload the two maps below. Both show the waterway connecting the two rivers, Chao Phraya and the Bang Pakong. The Klong Prawet Burirom was built between 1877 and 1880. The maps are dated 1886 and 1896.

Below is the 1896 map by Maxwell Sommerville, a visiting Professor of Glyptology from the University of Pennsylvania. (I'm still not sure what glyptology is.) It looks like he has based his map on an earlier work as the western end of the waterway is showing an existing river course rather than the canal. His trip was actually up the Chao Phraya rather than to the east of Bangkok so he wouldn't have seen it.

The second map is British from 10 years earlier and shows the klong, on this called the Petrio Canal. I will have to identify the towns shown with their modern names sometime. Maybe tomorrow I will get the Google Maps of my walking area up.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

More Traditional Thai House Pictures

The house I photographed earlier today did get me thinking about the roofs of these traditional Thai houses. I suspect that thatch would have been the usual choice of material in the past. Below is actually a house-boat from about 110 years ago but the roof shape is traditional and the material is thatch of some type.

The square tiles would date back to at least the 50s I think. This house obviously pre-dates the housing estate it is in by quite a few years and it has access to the klong.

Temples and palaces use these small coloured tiles and I remember reading about how the government's Fine Arts Department has a facilty to produce them for restoration work.

The more modern material is corrugated sheeting, usually of a ceramic or cement material. The first Bangkok house I lived in had a roof like this one below, but without the colour, more of a gray.

Klong Banma

Just in so much better a mood today. Went out before noon for a 50 minute walk on the small klong, Klong Banma, at the top of our estate. I do this walk so often that I know almost to the minute how long it will be. The turn round point is a wooden bridge over the klong before we get to the railway.

I cross this bridge and look in a motor workshop yard about 100 meters up the lane. they are usually restoring old cars so it can be interesting to see what they are working on. A yellow mini was there and something from the 50s I couldn't identify.

Next to the bridge is a traditional Thai house. I looked at the roof and it probably is the original one with a square tile rather than corrugated sheeting you will more often see. The picture below shows whoever owns it is not poor. A new car and expensive wall and gates hint at that, yet the house looks almost untouched from what it would have been like 50 years ago.

Football Again

Should really have gone in yesterday's post but my team, Charlton, beat Swindon 2-0 in a cup game on Tuesday night. Swindon are a division below us so it would have been a "giant killing" if they had won, but Charlton are known to stumble against weaker opposition.

It's a bit too hard to follow them this year with no radio or TV coverage out here, and evening matches are always far too late to stay up for. Rumours are out again about a take-over of the club with Middle or Far East interests involved. Will have to wait and see.

I do hope we have a good season. We should because for once we are the big fish in a small pond. We have the most expensive squad in the division and it should be the most skilful also. A bit like the Chelsea of the Championship.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


No walking today. Just didn't feel like it. Worked a bit; here is VAT day today. Disturbed sleep last night and never really got on top of anything all day. This afternoon watched a DVD movie, Big Fish with Tom Courtney. Sat all the way through it which is unusual these days. Good, but probably not the best thing to watch in the mood I've been in.

My grandmother's funeral was in St Margaret's Catholic Church, Canning Town, in East London many years ago. It was the church I was baptised in on the first Sunday after it finally reopened after being rebuilt. It was badly damaged in the Second World War during the massive bombing this part of London suffered.

I remember a youngish priest taking the service. He said something that has stuck in my mind ever since. He told us we should be jealous of my grandmother as she died believing that there was another life still to come. He was right and I have always been jealous of those having this belief, more so since I tested my own mortality recently.

Of course this is why the left has always been suspicious of religion, that the belief in a better world to come might take away the need to make this present world better and fairer. Sometimes some parts of religion get very close to the politics of socialism. I have been reading on and off a tribute book to John Smith, the late Labour party leader. He did consider himself a Christian Socialist.

I'm not sure if Gordon Brown thinks he has any of the socialist bit left in him now. The non-conformist part of Christianity in the UK has had and maybe still has strong ties with labour movement. It was a shame that the last pope and I suspect this one are quite reactionary and have taken the catholic church a distance away from many social issues. I guess if anyone asked me my religion I would still say catholic. It's still a tribal thing, a bit like my football club.

What is very wrong is for the left to think they can fight alongside the most reactionary of religious leaders in a common cause. Whether it is the radical Islam, catholic or the born again Christians of the US, a distance should be kept. These people are far to the right and their religion is an excuse to turn the clock back hundreds of years.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Picking up from yesterday

I wanted to fill in the gap between the walks from yesterday and last week. Drove back to the temple I reached yesterday and parked there. I still don't know this temple's name or the name of the small klong I've been walking. Not much to say about the walk as it's mainly rural. In the map below you can see the temple. From there it's north under the Bangkok Ring Road. There was another small klong heading north but I followed the klong to the right. Walked to the end where it joins Klong Thap Chang and turned south to where Klong Buang Kwang joins it. That completes the loop so walked back to the temple.

Below is the the beginning of a new (to me) canal heading north. Maybe another day. I went to the right here.

A bit of natural history seen today. The storks below, (I think they are Asian Open Bill Storks), are regular annual visitors. I heard they like the apple snails, an introduced species whose population just exploded here. Just looked in Wikipedia and they say they are of American origin and were first introduced into Taiwan and spread from there. They were meant to be a human protein source but it seems not many like the taste. I rarely see anyone collecting them except for fishing bait. They seem to be spreading rapidly and their red egg sacs are often visible attached to reeds or plants. Hopefully the storks will keep them under control.

Below, the base of the tree trunk looks more like it belongs in an Amazon jungle. I wonder if that's and introduced species as well.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Map of Today's Walk

Just figured out how to get a picture from Google Earth so here's todays walk. The distance "From Here" to "To Here" is just a bit less than 3 kilometers, so there and back is a little less than 6 kilometers.

Walking North of the Motorway

Had the blues coming on pretty strong the last few days. Doesn't make a lot sense. Small things start to cause worries which are far greater than they should be. Never remember being this way before the accident and operations. Took a couple of happy pills to sleep last night.

Anyway best cure is having a long walk and I will leave the politics alone for today. Picked up from the railway station, Ban Thap Chang, I finished at on Saturday and headed north under the Chonburi motorway. The community on both sides, mainly moslem, look quite well established with many traditional wood homes. The klong itself had little boat traffic but this might be because the houses on at least one side have back gates facing onto roads, lanes or tracks. The large house below has both a modern style roof and a traditional one on the section behind. I was looking at some old, 100+ years pictures last night and the only thing that has changed on these roofs is cement sheets in place of thatch.

Far more of the big fishing nets on this klong than most and many were still in use. The balance on them and the lines from the nets make it easy for even a child to control them.

Again I suspect it's mainly the small fish they are after. Below are some being dried next to the canal.

Walked north about 3 kilometers to a temple and just past that the ringroad. Just before the temple another klong joined us. If you look at the picture below, I have just come up from the left side. This gives me a least a couple of more walks to complete gaps between those I have already done. North of the ringroad this klong should join Klong Thap Chang again. The new klong going west should take me back to areas I have already walked in the past. It's a bit never -ending.

The temple complex towards the end of this walk was quite large and had some fairly new temples in it, but also one very old one with a drum and a boat outside the front door. There were new chrome railings around it so I'm not sure what plans they have for it. Below are pictures of a new section and the old temple.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A lazy 2 hour Sunday afternoon walk on Klong Prakhanong between Soi 39 and 25 and back. Parked the pickup where I had a couple of days ago and walked west until the pathway run out. Monday is a holiday this week so the busy klong was fairly quiet. More than a few of the local residents were doing some very relaxed rod and line fishing. It is more for the sport I'm sure, although anything caught will end up in the post. If they were serious fishermen they would throwing nets out.

Lots of religious places on the klong as with everywhere in Thailand. Below is nice mix of mosque, temple and Chinese temple. The temple below had some clever mosaic work on it.

This mosque, Masjid Al Kubror, had a fairly modern look to it.

And this small Chinese style temple'e entrance was onto the klong and was certainly colourful with some ceramic tiles telling a story I guess.

Football Season Started Yesterday

The British season kicked off yesterday. My team, Charlton Athletic, were relegated from the Premier League to the Championship last season. This is from the old 1st. Division to the old 2nd. Division. I knew I wouldn't get any TV coverage of the games this year but I was expecting to get the BBC radio commentary through the club website.

Alas, not to be as the Football League has the web broadcast rights and charges for it. The BBC is not allowed to have its programs charged for so instead nothing. I sat last night looking at web page updating with text commentary of the game. One-one, not what was hoped for but not a disaster.

As a kid I would go to the club's ground, the Valley, and watch them. Then a long gap through young to early middle-age where I didn't. Now, again I follow them. During that gap if asked I would still say they were my team. It's a tribal thing. I like tribes, but I like them based on small groups rather than large ones like nations. The smaller the better, the less harm they can do.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Another Klong and a Railway Station

Worked until 3:30 PM then walked locally to 5:00 PM. It was a short walk east along Klong Prawet Burirom, then cross-country, well cross a building area, to a side canal coming off Klong Thap Chang that I saw on the last Wednesday. Followed this klong as far as the railway line and Ban Thap Chang railway station, then back home.

I haven't said how pretty some of the homes on the klongs are. The house below has beautiful pot plants along the pathway.

Below is a traditional styled Thai house with boat access. When I first came to Bangkok I lived in a house with a roof like this and it was a lot cooler than the cement house I now live in.

I reached the small side canal about 200 meters down from Klong Thap Chang and followed it north-west to the railway and Chonburi motorway. The klong then heads north but that will be left for another day. The man below was doing well with the small net and bucket full of the small fish you can see in the net.

A train was just arriving at Ban Thap Chang station and below you can see it with the new airport skytrain station being built above it. You would get to the airport in about 10 minutes from here.

While looking at the train from the bridge over the klong, behind me a man was carrying singing bird cages across the railway to hang by the wall. Keeping the birds together makes them sing I think.

Mountbatten and Partition Again

"The viceroy, Mountbatten, must take the blame - though not the sole blame - for the massacres in the Punjab in which between 500,000 to a million men, women and children perished," he writes.

Not me this time, but off the BBC news website today. The 'he' in 'he writes' is Christopher Beaumont who in 1947 was the private secretary to Sir Cyril Radcliffe, chairman of the Indo-Pakistan Boundary Commission. His papers are being released by his son.

More quotes from the BBC.

"The central theme ever present in Beaumont's historic paperwork is that Mountbatten not only bent the rules when it came to partition - he also bent the border in India's favour. The documents repeatedly allege that Mountbatten put pressure on Radcliffe to alter the boundary in India's favour. "

"Beaumont goes on to argue that it was "irresponsible" of Lord Mountbatten to insist that Beaumont complete the boundary within a six-week deadline - despite his protests."

Friday, August 10, 2007

Klong Prakhanong

I missed writing yesterday and only had a short walk. Today I will blog but skip the walk. I have to get a travel agent's website finished. Yesterday's walk lasted about half an hour but it took twice as long driving to and from a point to start and end the walk.

I can walk the main klong, Klong Prawet Burirom, west for about 45 minutes until the pathways run out on both sides. This is about a kilometer before Srinakarin Road crosses the klong. Yesterday I drove to pick up the klong on the other side of this road. I found a parking place about 500 meters past the road bridge and walked back to the bridge from there.

I didn't know before but the klong changes name at this bridge and becomes Klong Prakhanong. It also becomes far busier with fast long-tailed ferries zipping up up and down. By the time I got there it was the end of the school day and boats were queuing up to load kids onboard and take them home. Teachers were keeping the kids under control. See below as another 60 or so are about to go home. That's a mosque behind the kids. I will try and do the walk westwards over the weekend. Maybe it will be less busy then.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Deaths of the British Revolutionary Left

The UK’s revolutionary left expired twice last century. The first time was the Communist Party in the post war years, probably finished off by the 1956 Hungarian uprising. The second would have been the Trotskyist movement in the 1980s. Both times ended with the disillusionment of the cadres who often worked with religious sect like effort.

The failure of the Communist Party can be blamed on the actions of Russian government and on Stalin in particular. This was what the second movement most certainly did. It wasn’t that the ideal of a socialist state or that bringing this about by revolution was wrong, it was this one man that did the damage.

Looking back the forty years to when I was a young cadre, to be burnt out within a couple of years, I can see the mistake. We were asking the right question, ‘Why did the Russian revolution go so badly wrong’. We just weren’t getting the correct answer. Of course Stalin was a bad guy, a murderer and a traitor to the socialist cause, but what allowed him to become the leader of the party?

It was easy for us to believe Trotsky equals good guy, Stalin equals bad guy. What this doesn’t take into account is that system allowed Stalin to become leader. It wasn’t a coup, he was the successor to Lenin. So what sort of system had Lenin and Trotsky put in place that let this happen?

Once you start have doubts in Leninism you wonder if the idea of a revolutionary vanguard leading the proletariat is possibly not such a great idea. Maybe real change comes from the bottom up. Interesting idea.

Filling in the Loop

A gray day and full of cold and again wasn't going to do much today, but it became a choice of working or walking. Filled in the loop by walking from the southern beginning of Klong Thap Chang north to where I reached via Klong Mae Chan. I think there and back was about 5 kilometers. Parked at the temple Wat Krathum Sueapla and turned onto the klong from the big Klong Prawet Burirom. (I will figure out how to put Google Maps on here soon.)

The first part of the walk was through a small community with a school on the klong then had to cross to the other side as a new housing estate had no walkway or access to the canal. See the photo above. It's a shame really, but I guess they worry about security and keeping the riff-raff out. Still their loss, they could have had a commuter boat ride to miss the traffic.

In the distance you can see the new airport skytrain under construction. Here I crossed the railway and went under the Chonburi motorway. Again, once you go north of the motorway, it starts to get quite rural. Further along the klong goes under the Bangkok Ring Road and the builders had destroyed the pathway. Detoured through some muddy tracks and picked the klong up again.

For about 10 meters the path was covered in large red ants and their eggs. Either the rain had knocked the nest down from the bamboo above or some of the kids had raided it for either fishing bait or for the eating, the eggs being a delicacy. Robert Ruark, a Hemingway like writer, described the African honey badger as the most aggressive animal he knew. Seeing it on Animal Planet I could understand his view; although saying it was like a woman as it went straight for a man's balls might not be totally true.

I think he never run into the tropical red ant as, to borrow a boxing term, they are pound for pound the most aggressive animal going. Even though you are walking on top of them some will still get up on your legs to bite. First time I stopped and picked off three biting my socks. Coming back I did that stretch of path at a canter and only had to pick off one.

Anyway filled in the loop but this should be the last of my long distance walks for now. I will stay more local and less rural for a while.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Walk around the houses

Another bad day. Trying to get a few bugs out of some software, have a cold coming on and back on pills to sleep. Not time or inclination to get over to the klongs so had a couple of walks on the housing estate. Ours has three big lakes running through the middle. This is quite common in estates built 20-30 years ago. The earth from the manmade lakes is used to fill the land for housing as it's mainly low-lying ex-rice paddy land. Below is a picture looking up the biggest lake.

Monday, August 6, 2007

The UK's Political Centre Ground

By now we all believe what the pundits tell us - to win an election in the UK you need to hold the political centre ground. All three parties are trying to own this real estate; it's like one of those contests to see how many students you can fit in a Mini. We accept that there are this group of voters in swing constituencies who will decide who is closest to the middle and then elect that party. It sounds correct, but wait a minute...

Maggie didn't hold the middle ground. Ted Heath was an old One Nation Tory but Maggie wasn't. Maggie was far to the right, closer to the pre-war Tories, but she was elected. So was the main reason Blair got elected because he held the centre ground. Maybe, or was it because the post-Thatcher Conservative Party was divided and had built a reputation of sleaze.

If occupying the centre-ground gets you elected how come we haven't had a Liberal government since Lloyd George.?

Two Walks - Two Klongs

Went out twice today. Needed the quiet. In the morning went just past the Wat Krathum Sueapla temple to look for the beginning of another small klong going north. Found it; it's called Klong Thap Chan and on Saturday I had reached it via another klong quite a distance to the north. Below shows where I got to.

So today here's a picture of the southern end of Klong Thap Chan. I will try and fill the gap over the weekend.
Late this afternoon I had a short walk along the small klong that passes between our housing estate and another. I know this walk very well and it takes about 50 minutes if I turn at my usual spot. The small klong's name is Klong Banma.