In the past, Thailand’s waterways offered the fastest means of travel over great distances, and, at a time when much of the land was covered in forests, navigating by water was often an easier means of reaching a destination than was travel over land. Bangkok was developed around a series of canals, its streets and roadways virtually nonexistent in the early days, when it was sometimes referred to as “the Venice of the East.” Today, most of Bangkok’s canals are gone, having been filled and replaced by paved thoroughfares. But in some other areas of the country canals continue to serve useful purposes.