Thailand’s Chao Phraya River has for centuries been the main transportation artery for the country. If Thailand is the rice basket of Asia, the Chao Phraya is how the basket is transported. In Bangkok, just before the river reaches the sea, there is a culture around the Chao Phraya that is as old as the city itself. In fact, until recent years transportation through the city was based on the river and many man-made canals. Then it was decided that this was an antiquated means of transport, many canals were filled in, roads were paved and soon perhaps the worst gridlock in the world was created. Not only that, but areas of the city can flood badly during the monsoon season as there is no longer the drainage the canals once provided. The river, though, is still there and still provides a major thoroughfare through the city for local transportation as well as access to the rest of the country.
We live in a coastal temperate rainforest. When going about our daily lives, though, we tend to notice the rain more than the forest. Grumble, grumble, grumble. A couple of weeks ago, I was riding my bike along Southwest Marine Drive in Vancouver and decided to turn off into Pacific Spirit Park. Wham. A different world. Greener than you can imagine. Smell of damp soil, of decay. And this only steps from a major urban thoroughfare. Then last weekend I had reason to go to Coquitlam, part of a major urban sprawl about 30 km from downtown. I stepped into Minnekhada Regional Park and the suburbs disappeared. Once again this verdant rainforest overwhelmed my senses. It was spectacular.