Thursday, March 09, 2006

Old Custom's House Lane

Soi 36, or the "Old Custom's House Lane" takes you to that very place, after passing the French embassy. At the gigantic building's foot flows the Chao Praya, a fleet of navy grey speedboats moored on its shore. Behind them, fire trucks that unfortunately, ressemble the ones in France, not their superb American counterparts. The Custom's House is now crumbling apart and looks all but abandoned. But I wandered inside and food neatly lined up rows of firemen boots. Bangkok's firefighters live here.

The thick stucko and brick walls, the wood floors and staircases, the wide rooms, all called for a tripod and wide angle and I had neither. Moreover, I soon got kicked out by a man in uniform.

Behind the Custom's House is a maze of streets that surrounds Haroon Mosque. A maze so tight, I never found the mosque and neither did the other tourist that asked me for directions (I must have the look of someone who knows where he's going). To the right of the custom's house, when facing the river, is Wat Muangkhae. To me, all Thai temples look alike--too new--but this one has an interesting backdrop of towering skyscrapers. The homes in this area are mostly clapboard, with corrugated tin roofs. But some are more elaborately crafted villas surrounded by yards and picket fences. You'll have to get on your toes if you want to get a glimpse in color of the Bangkok in black and white photographs.


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