Ko Khet: Bangkok’s Island
A weekend in Bangkok means random excursions. Our host family told us about an island within Bangkok called Ko Khet. I had never heard of it, and was immediately intruiged. Jill, myself, and Natalie decided to check it out. First we wandered the oldest market in Bangkok located right next to the ferry pier to the island. It was the quietest market I’ve visited, but still contained an enormous variety of offerings. I bought a big hat for 90 baht (3 dollars) since I’ve realized some days I simply can’t avoid this intensely powerful sun.
We eventually walked over to the pier, and 2 baht later, we were on the island. Ko Khet was similarly quiet. Immediately we were greeted by interesting trinkets – many porcelain figurines, gem jewelry (Jade, Turquoise, etc.) – and new foods. I sampled some fried flowers with chili sauce – absolutely delicious.
After getting off the ferry, there’s really only one pathway to follow. So we sauntered our way down the walkway lined with merchants of all kinds. We tasted the interesting things, frowned at the gross things, and oo’ed and awe’ed at the beautiful things. One such beauty was a tiny shop which showcased large paintings of royalty, scenes, etc. In the corner was a beautiful old guitar. Jill picked it up and started playing, attracting the curiousity and smiles of the neighboring locals. We had a mini-concert, and Jill fell in love with the instrument. After some conversation with the painter, we learned that this was his father’s guitar – and his first guitar ever. Over 60 years old and still possessing a great sound, it was clearly a gem. Jill asked the man over and over if he was sure he wanted to sell it, sensing that this was clearly an important object. He insisted he didn’t want it, and the exchange was final. She managed to snag it for 1500 baht ($50) – no bargaining necessary.
A bit further down the pathway, we camped out at a pair of large wooden benches and had a jam session. Jill and I traded off playing. Being that I hadn’t played in over a year, I was amazed that I remembered even a handful of songs. It was a peaceful moment of relaxation – a much needed break from the chaos of the city. After a few songs two Thai men joined us on the benches. They complimented our music and tried to suggest a few Thai songs – and older English songs – for us to play. Unfortunately we couldn’t recognize the titles, but they were good-humored about it and we chit-chatted with our limited Thai vocabulary.
Another 2 baht boat trip back, and we taxi’ed over to Chatuchak (also spelled Jatujak or J.J.) market. Natalie had some souvenir-purchasing needs, and I had to temporarily satisfy my unquenchable craving for Bubble Tea (cha kai-mook). In the tiny walkways between merchants, we came across a friendly man who insisted on providing a concert via Jill’s guitar. He improvised a tune, and we actually managed to speak for awhile with him in Thai! Other tourists walked by in awe and confusion as we joked with the man and his friends, and the lady merchant with him ended up giving Natalie the “thai” price for the gift she bought – a rare privilege.
Although we had a blast, I was tired and in a bit of pain. I was happy to head home after the last hurrah before my foot surgery.