I was telling you the other day about our trip to Amphawa Floating Market. Unlike other markets, this one took place in the afternoon. When we first arrived, we explored both banks of the canal on foot. I told you about this before. By the time we got back to the pedestrian bridge it was nearly half past four and the crowds had started to build up. We could see quite a few people climbing into boats that they had rented. We went to take a closer look and we were then soon approached by a man who asked if we wanted to rent a boat. I asked how much and he said 400 baht per boat (about $10). Looking down I could see a flat bottomed boat with no seats which reminded me of my uncomfortable ride on the lake in Sangkhlaburi. But he saw my look of dismay and quickly said “No, no, your boat is the big one over there!” And it was certainly big. In fact, big enough for 16 people! He then said he had two Thai people already and it would therefore only cost us 100 baht each. We agreed. Why not? It sounded like fun. And it was.
Our boatman took us out of the canal and onto the mighty Maeklong River. He then took us in a northerly direction with the fast setting sun slightly ahead and to the left. We passed the King Rama II Park and many traditional style houses on both banks. This area isn’t really built up much and there were plenty of palm trees. It was coming towards the end of the day and a number people were already climbing down the steps from their houses to the river. Some were fishing but many were taking a bath and washing their hair. Although the light was good for taking pictures, I couldn’t really take anything on the West bank because of the low sun. It might have been better to have gone on this boat trip a little earlier. However, the sun would have been hot. The Thai way of dealing with this is using an umbrella or improvising with a folded newspaper.
Our first stop on this pleasant journey was Wat Bang Kung. This is a historically important location because of a battle between King Taksin’s forces and the invading Burmese. It is also famous for being featured in the “Unseen Thailand” guidebooks. In the temple grounds there is a small chapel that is completely enclosed within the roots of a banyan tree. It is almost like the tree itself is the pillars of the temple and that without the roots the chapel would fall down. I took the above photograph from one of the windows near the back. You can also go inside to pay respect to the Buddha image. In the grounds of the temple is also a statue for King Taksin (no he is not related to Prime Minister Thaksin – their names are not even pronounced the same). There are also life-size models of Muay Thai fighters in different poses.
Our boatman/guide then took us back to our boat. Before getting in, we fed some of the massive fishes in the river. For some reason, Thai people like doing this kind of thing. I have already made a mental note that when I get around to creating a tourist attraction, I will make sure that there is a pond so that Thai people can pay to feed my fish! Back on the boat, we turned around and headed back, though this time along the West bank. A short distance away we stopped at another temple. This one was called Wat Bangkae Noi. This one was very crowded as there was a big event going on. In the main chapel we found quite a breathtaking view. The walls and ceiling had some amazing teakwood carvings. These depicted the life and teachings of the Lord Buddha.
After this we headed back to our starting point at the Amphawan Floating Market. By this time our boatman was rushing us a bit as he was keen to get back. In the early evening they do another boat tour to view the fireflys which apparently is very beautiful. For this he can get more money as they charge 600 baht per boat. So, we could understand his rush. But, it was OK. The boat ride lasted about 90 minutes which was about perfect. We wouldn’t want to be on the boat any longer than that. As we arrived back at the floating market we were really shocked about the number of people. The pedestrian bridge and both sides of the canal were jam packed with Thai tourists. I am glad we had done our exploring earlier in the day.
I will certainly come here again and I strongly recommend for you to visit too. I think next time I will come earlier so that I can do more exploring. There certainly seems to be a lot to see in this small province of Samut Songkram. Certainly there are hundreds of canals to explore and also to visit the local farming communities. There are also other floating markets here to be discovered.
Make sure you bookmark thai-blogs.com as we have many “Unseen Thailand” locations to write about over the coming months. You will not only learn about the culture of the country here but also places to visit which you won’t find in any Western guidebooks.