Following in the foot-steps of Thailand’s champion travel blogger, our very own Mr Richard, I thought that I had better get into the same kinda action this past Monday – a public holiday. My destination – The 100 Year-old Market of Sumchuk district, Suphanburi Province.
I’ve been in Suphanburi for around three years but had failed to venture to this very well-known market located just 30km from Suphanburi’s provincial town. Almost a sin and a once in a year phenomenon, I got up at the hellishly early hour of 7 o’clock on a glorious day-off! Setting off soon after with my flashy new digital camera which the wife has been pampering more than me lately, we jumped on a bus heading in the Samchuk direction (and there are plenty of them, just ask). Half an hour later we were there.
Now, Samchuk’s 100 Year-old market is well-known throughout Central Thailand, and loadsa shops have proudly posted pics of the owners with movie stars, singers, TV presenters and even politicians who have passed through. Well-known it ought to be, the market has been recognized for architectural art by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindorn and the place has been at the center of ‘cultural preservation’ for quite some time. The market, located on the banks of the ThaChin River, was once a major hub for transportation to and from Bangkok
The first building we came across which really stuck out a mile was the former home of Khun Chamnongjeenarak, a former Opium tax collector. His home, 90 years-old -still in almost perfect original condition, has been turned into a museum (free too!). Some excellent maps, family photos and antiques. There are some young student guides downstairs waiting to show you around and even though I didn’t need much advise such as “This refrigerator is 80 years old” it was pleasing to see school kids actually spending their free holiday time productively. I gave our guide 20baht and he looked pretty chuffed.
The market had some traditional foods on sale that I had never seen before such as baked prawns with rice served in banana leaves. The wife enjoyed the wide variety of traditional Thai-style sweets too. Not exactly one for scoffing too much in the morning, I opted instead for a more politically correct ‘morning coffee’. They have one really big traditional coffee shop which was absolutely packed out with locals and Thai tourists.
The place isn’t huge but it’s certainly worth a good two-three hours, at least an hour of that just munching away on the traditional goodies. Besides the food, coffee and buildings to enjoy, there are traditional antique shops knocking off antiques such as watches and clocks. Then there is a traditional photo studio where you can have black and white photos taken of yourself dressed in a variety very old-fashioned clothes/sarongs/school uniforms/military outfits etc.. There is also a traditional dentists where I heard from an unreliable source, the dentist can extract a teeth with a pair of pliers (if you wish!)
To get there from Suphanburi Town, go to Lotus Department Store and jump on a bus to ‘Samchuk’ and tell the conductor to let you out at ‘Talart Roy Pee’ – as simple as that. On the way back, just ask someone where you can find a passing bus back, plenty of them. From Bangkok there are direct air-conditioned buses to Samchuk leaving from the Northern Bus Terminal. To make a worthwhile day-out, if you travel 30 km past Samchuk you will get to ‘Beung Chawak’, Suphanburi’s most famous tourist attraction, a huge dam with a safari and a big aquarium.
If you are in the Suphanburi area, then do check the place out – definitely worth a visit.