Recently I continued my exploration of the BTS Sky Train in Bangkok. There are quite a few hidden and unique places along the route as long as you don’t mind doing a little walking. One unusual location, just around the corner from BTS Saphan Thaksin, is Wat Yannawa. The temple, renamed by Rama III, literally means the boat temple. Before it was called Wat Khok Kwai which translated as Temple of the Buffaloes. King Rama III ordered the building of this Chinese Junk ship to commemorate the period of time when the Chinese junk ships were doing a roaring trade in Siam. During the reign of King Rama III, Western style ships were beginning to overtake the junk ships in numbers.
The junk ship, which is called Samphai Chedi, is about 43 metres in length and is made from reinforced concrete. Instead of masts, you will find two chedis in the middle. There is a door at the rear and you can enter the ship and then climb to the top. In the rear cabin at the back there are Buddha images and also a sacred Buddha’s footprint. The rest of the temple, which dates back to the Ayutthaya period, is also worth exploring. It is possible to walk down to the river bank and watch the ships pass by. It is surprising that despite being so near the sky train station, I didn’t see any other foreigners. Maybe it is because not every guidebook gives it a mention. And when they do, it is usually only a brief paragraph. To find the temple, exit the station with your back to the river. Turn right at the intersection and you will soon see the temple on your right.