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Author: A Potato in a Rice Field
Wanderlust Travel Blog of the Year ’13
For travel from Bangkok to Koh Kret island there are a number of options available, some better than others. The obvious option would be by direct taxi to the Koh Kret pier which should cost around 200 Baht each way from the central Bangkok areas, but this will depend on traffic, and whether at taxi driver is willing to travel (Bangkok taxi guide here). A better option may be to take the MRT underground travelling to the Bang Sue station then forwarding by taxi from there. Easy enough. The third option would be the river taxi option where Chao Phraya river boats travel regularly to the Nonthaburi Pier area from the pier at Saphan Thaksin Skytrain station. Nonthaburi is normally the last stop on the line but occasional river taxis go further and closer to Koh Khet Island. From Nonthaburi Pier a simple taxi will forward to Koh Kret island crossing the river in the district of Pak Kret. The main crossing is found at Wat Sanam Neua temple where boats regularly leave the back of the temple to Koh Kret island (every 5 minutes or so costing next to nothing).
Koh Kret is a relatively small island easily discovered on foot but also offers the added option of bicycle rental. All main attractions are kept close to the pier and follows a set circular path between them. On arrival I start at Wat Poramai where I call in quick to some heritage exhibits before exploring elsewhere. Most people I find to be travelling by bike on the day following the well signposted circular route. I opted against this option as it does restrict you, in that you can’t sneak down back bits and climb over stuff. I visit on a Thursday, a weekday, when few people visit to explore Koh Kret, so the island feels empty and most exhibits and demonstrations are closed on the day. My biggest disappointment was the closed Chit Beer Home Brewery which I stumble in the pottery villages 🙁 Otherwise I feel I found better experiences exploring the less trodden parts of the island.
Koh Kret island is foremost famous for its unique Mon pottery heritage, the island inhabited long ago by Mon refugees after fleeing their homelands in Burma. Settling in Koh Kret the Mon refugees started trade in terracotta-ware jugs and bowls and while very few continue tradition in present day, you can still see clay pot spinning at exhibits shown to visitors (although I fail myself to find them myself, maybe closed on weekdays). In parts the island feels like a primary school excursion which has been forgotten about with all the educational stuffs, museums, exhibits and whatnot scattered around. However the pottery villages are no doubt worth the visit on any day as they’re not so much exhibits, as they are homes. Traditional teak homes continue to house the old unused kilns and throughout the island terracotta wares are found almost everywhere, even the river banks in parts are completely strewn with broken pieces of terracotta-ware.
Quickly bored of the tourist route I decide to disappear inland away from the normal stuff and towards the less visited parts of the island. Koh Kret Island is surprisingly beautiful elsewhere; peaceful, serene and green and perfect just to potter around, explore and escape city bustle. Local communities continue to live on the island and I spend much of my time navigating stilted walkways, over lotus ponds, in pursuit of the local postman as he follows his rounds. This is the part of the island I really enjoyed away from the circle path which is no doubt busy and bustling on the weekends. In total I spend around two hours on Koh Kret Island and for one of these hours I was completely lost. On realisation of just how lost I was, I concede and follow a stray monk back to his community temple where I pester local for direction back to the pier. I follow the path they show me and become even more lost. Fun.
After about an hour of being lost I reluctantly flag down a random motorbike taxi and hitch a lift back to the front pier (3km for 50 Baht). For crossing back to the mainland I follow the same route as the previous crossing, as the small ferry boat travels back and forth throughout the day. Before leaving the island I buy a quick pottery trinket for Fanfan (a Doraemon mug for 30 Baht) then hop on the boat and back to Wat Sanam Neua temple. At the front of the temple I fail to flag down a taxi, so I happily continue to the top of the road where I find the bustling central areas of the Pak Kret district (200 m or so). Here I easily flag a taxi and travel back to Nonthaburi pier for roughly 80 Baht. All-in-all a fun and worthwhile day escaping the city.