Touring the Canals, Life Blood of Bangkok

Walking around the grounds, we see streams of Buddhist monks, heads shaved and in saffron robes, studying religious texts. None of them say a word. Most don't even notice we're there. In a large section in the back, ornamented with the near-mandatory reclining Buddha statue, another Monk stands on a red carpeted floor, microphone in hand, teaching the day's lessons to a group of young initiates.

As we leave, a lone monk straggles in. Poor guy must be late. Reminds me of me during university.

On our way out, Peter hands us a few bags filled with what look like multicolored cheetos. I was getting kind of hungry.

"Not for you!" Peter explains. "For the fish."

Feeding fish is a common practice in Bangkok. It's a way of signifying respect and care for all living things. By the time my bag is empty, there are hundreds of fish surrounding out boat, each one about a foot long. The feeding frenzy is enough to cause small ripples along the water's surface.

Later, at the Artists House, the last place on our itinerary, Peter takes us to a puppet show. Not a single westerner in sight. Each puppet is so big it takes three puppeteers to control it. The play is about Hanuman, a magical white monkey, though this puppet version is clearly more mischievous. None of the show is in English, but that's ok. By the time Hanuman starts performing Gangnam Style, we're laughing off our seats.

Outside, over a lunch of fresh pad Thai, Peter explains why he scheduled the stops the way he did.

"I like natural," he says. "See the people living style, the local people. I don't tourist areas."

As we leave, I notice the sculpture of a naked man painted orange, his pot belly bulging out while his feet dangle over the wooden platforms edge into the water.

He's smiling. Just like me.

JUST THE FACTS

Booking it: The Klong Guru tour can be booked through the Anantara Riverside Resort and Spa (anantara.com). Each group consists of no more than six adults, and lasts for approximately four hours.

What to wear: Most longtail boats are covered, but hats, sunscreen, and mosquito repellant are recommended.

Etiquette: When entering temples, it is recommended to dress modestly and not speak in a loud voice. Shoes are removed before entering any carpeted area.

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