Words and photos by Marc Schultz/Black Star Publishing
Bangkok was once known for its abundance of intersecting canals. Although, with the myriad of cars and skyscrapers now crowding the streets, one can easily overlook the richness of the city’s vast waterways. As a resident of over 20 years, I find that the best way to connect with the true essence of Bangkok’s urban lifestyle is to head down to the waterfront for a dose of wind and water.
Recently I decided to meld my passion for photography with my love for the river by capturing a series of photos depicting the most infamous of all Thai boats, known as “longtails”. These long, narrow, fast moving river-rockets are a colourful feast for the eyes and a great way to take a fulfilling tour down Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River, and its many offshoot canals.
To get to where the action is, my personal favourite strategy is to take the BTS Skytrain to Saphan Taksin Bridge station. This puts you right at the river front pier. From here you can jump on one of two different public boats. Either will take you on a short ride upriver to the area where the stately Royal Grand Palace sits. I prefer the more spacious “Tourist Boat” for 40 baht, with its comfortable, wide seats and moderate pace.
After a short, 20 minute ride I get off at Ta Chang pier, where one can hop right onto a longtail for hire, the most personalized way to get you deeper into the sights and sounds of the river’s narrow canals. Photographing subjects here offers a mix of fast movement, colour, and endless activity—all rolled into one.