The land that time forgot lies within a short boat trip from Bangkok. There are no cars and the only 'road' is little more than a concrete path that is sometimes as narrow as 2metres. Welcome to the little-known island of Koh Kret. The 6,000 or so souls who live there are mainly descendants of the Mon people who fled Burma in 1757 and were given permission to settle. Their way of life remains largely unchanged. They specialise in making pottery and Mon food in this peaceful haven away from the capital's hustle and bustle. As Thailand today celebrates the 81st birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, whose 62-year reign makes him the world's longest-serving monarch, it is opportune to reflect on one of many surprises in this country. Koh Kret is on the Chao Phraya River in Nonthaburi province. Although tour companies run day trips there at weekends ( www.chaophrayaboat.co.th ), it is relatively easy to do your own thing. Take the Skytrain to the end of the line at Saphan Taksin and walk to nearby Sathorn Pier, where you can catch a public express boat to Nonthaburi for 15baht (HK$3.30). The one-hour journey allows you to enjoy the riverfront vista of temples and top-end hotels such as the Mandarin Oriental and The Peninsula. At Nonthaburi, you can take a minivan or public bus to Pak Kret Market, just a short walk from Wat Sanam Nua, where a ferry shuttles passengers over to Koh Kret for 2baht. On the other side, you emerge into a small food market near Wat Poramaiyikawat, a temple built in Mon style about 200 years ago with a stupa leaning out towards the river. Inside, there is a large reclining Buddha while the temple also has a free museum containing ancient artefacts. Koh Kret is only about 5km in circumference. Bicycles and motorbikes are available for hire and longtail boats can take you around the island for a negotiable rate starting at 600 baht, dropping you off at places of interest. With the island being so small, and the path so narrow as it weaves through the pottery stalls, it makes more sense to simply walk and enjoy the sights without the burden of a vehicle. I was glad I had avoided the weekend tourist hordes. The island was quiet and it was easy to progress at my own pace. Cries of sawatdee khap greeted me each time I approached a pottery stall as the owners spotted a potential customer. Prices were very reasonable, with a small mortar and pestle on sale for 40 baht. Items range in size from large ceramic pots to tiny decorative pieces. Walking clockwise around the island, you soon leave the pottery stalls and temples behind and enter a tranquil landscape that reminded me of the islands of southern Thailand, with lush tropical vegetation and people and dogs snoozing in and around stilted houses. Suan Kret Phutt, or Buddha Park, is a beautiful secluded garden in the centre of the island. Wat Chimphli has a small chapel worth visiting and Kwan Anam pottery museum has a large collection of ancient Mon ceramics. Back at my starting point, it was time to try some of those Mon delicacies. A stallholder let me sample some tod mun pla nor gala (spicy fishcakes) and what could only be described as deep-fried flowers. They were delicious. Other specialities include keng kheow wan (sweet green curry), khao chae (rice in jasmine) and traditional desserts. Slow-paced Koh Kret could not be more different from Bangkok - and it is doubtful if it will ever change.