Sketch on the River... Bangkok

By Elsewhere’s Creative Director Julia Stone in Thailand:

I get on the river express boat at the northernmost and final stop, Nonthaburi pier. The boat is the fastest (and cheapest) way to get to China Town from where we live. There is still some time before it departs and the hard plastic seats that stick to your sweaty legs slowly fill up, with most people choosing to sit to the right of the center aisle, leaving the sunny half of the boat free. The back row is reserved for monks. The ride costs between 11 and 15 Baht depending on whether it is the no flag (stops at every pier) or orange flag (faster, leaves out the less important stops) boat and the money girl comes around shaking her tubular metal "till" to collect the fare from the new passengers at every stop. Other than her there is the captain and the "whistler" at the back of the boat where the passengers get on and off who whistles signals to the captain while he backs up the boat to the piers and who holds the boat and the pier together while the passengers get on and off (this all happens very fast, you have to be ready to jump off or else you miss your stop).

The boat is my favorite mode of transportation because I love to watch the scenery go by. Out where we live there are still lots of small houses built on stilts right on the edge of the Chaophraya, with some temples sprinkled in between them. A couple of stops on there are already more and more factories and condos, railway and car bridges passing overhead, and more people getting on and off the boat. Yet further south you pass one of the largest breweries, the place where the royal barges are kept, and Siriraj Hospital which is in itself the size of a small city. And then, all of a sudden, at one pier there are dozens of tourists waiting and we are at Banglampoo near the infamous Khao San road and just two stops from the Grand Palace. At this point the water is incredibly busy with ferries crossing from one side of to the other, as well as tourist boats, restaurant boats, hotel boats, and long-tail boats like the one in my sketch zipping to and fro, in addition to the other river expresses and the barges transporting construction material up and downstream. All the life of the river.

Elsewhere No.01, including more wonderful illustrations by Julia, is out now. Order your copy via our online shop.