Chao Phraya River has so many standout landmarks. A single boat ride can tell you much of many riverside neighborhoods’ history and development. Soaring hotels is indicative that an area is most likely becoming trendier. Cramped shophouses demonstrate a more hyperlocal and quieter scene. Most revealing are the various ornate and beautiful houses of worship close to the water’s edge. And Santa Cruz Church in Thonburi is the perfect gateway to Kudi Jeen’s story.
With the fall of Ayutthaya, the Portuguese followed the Siamese to Bangkok where a new capital was established. King Taksin permitted them to settle where the Kudi Jeen community is now. Through centuries of evolution, including the mix of Siamese, Chinese, and Muslim immigrants who have since moved into the area, Kudi Jeen now boasts a unique history and mixed culture. In a country where Buddhism is the main religion, the community still holds on to its Christian roots. Santa Cruz Church, built in 1770, is the central pillar of the area.
Keep your eyes peeled as you wander the hidden alleys of Kudi Jeen as you will begin to see very interesting legacies of the Portuguese settlement in the area. Firstly, observe the faces of the community members and be surprised at some the Eurasian features still present today. Secondly, seek out khanom farang Kudi Jeen or translated as “Kudi Jeen Caucasian sweet” at Thanusingha Bakery. This sweet baked treat is unlike any Thai dessert, owing to its European, Siamese, and Chinese heritage. Lastly, respectfully look into houses and see tinges of the Portuguese influence: azulejo tiles and crosses. If you are interested in more, enter the Baan Kudi Jeen museum and soak in the history of the area.