Koh Kred: a freshwater island in Bangkok
Located on the Chao Phraya River in Nonthaburi province, and almost opposite Don Muang airport, Koh Kred is a man-made freshwater island which is famous for the quality of its earthenware pottery.
Koh Kred came into existence in the early part of the seventeenth century when the reigning monarch decided a canal should be dug to provide a shortcut from a place called Ban Talat Khwan. By digging what was a 1.5 kilometre canal, thus separating what is now Koh Kred from the mainland meant reducing what was a sharp 6.5 kilometre bend by five kilometres.
Over the years since then, the canal has widened quite considerably, due to flooding and erosion, so that from an original eight or so metres in width, it is now up to 100 metres wide in parts.
In the middle decades of the eighteenth century quite substantial number of Mons from Burma (Myanmar) began settling on and around Koh Kred. Encouraged by King Thaksin the Great, the Mons established pottery villages on the island. They set up kilns and began producing all kinds of pottery for everyday use, from jars and pots to bowls and mortars.
The tradition of producing quality unglazed earthenware has continued down the centuries and today people visiting Koh Kred often come to avail themselves of the finely worked and useful goods. Not surprisingly, the prices for these items tend to be a lot less than you would see in main street shops.
A Ceramics Centre and museum markets authentic Mon-style pottery and also has an exhibition of the art, as well as demonstrations into the making of the earthenware.
Visitors can also visit the large number of chedis in the north-eastern corner of the island, many of which are in decay after years of neglect. They are, for aficionados, good examples of the Mon style of chedi as opposed to those of the Ayutthaya style, for instance.
For people who enjoy Thai desserts, the offerings from some vendors on Koh Kred are so traditional that they are hard to find elsewhere.
Getting to Koh Kred is easy enough. There are tour operators who will take people on guided tours for the day. For those of an independent nature, simply hop on a ferry almost anywhere along the Chao Phraya River and head towards Nonthaburi. From the Nonthaburi pier you can take a connecting boat to Koh Kred.
There are also boat trips which circumnavigate the island. These leave from the pier at Wat Poromai Yikawet on a regular basis from mid morning onwards and don’t cost the earth.