This past weekend I had some visitors in town from Montreal, Joe and Daniel. This was an opportunity to take a trip down to the Amphawa floating market in Samut Songkhram province. This is the same place I went with Bill and his mother and Ken a few weeks ago. Fantastic place to take guests so if any of you come visit, let me know.
Thanks to Tam’s help, we rented a comfortable commuter van and had room for a crowd. In addition to myself and Joe and Daniel, Markus and his mother came along, Markus’ visiting boss, Kobfa, my Thai tutor Kitiya, and Kristina, another lady whom Tawn and I met at Loi Khrathong in November. Quite a diverse crowd!
From left to right: Kitiya, Markus, his mother Grace, Joe, Daniel, Markus’ boss Dave, and Kristina. Kobfa was in the front seat of the van, listening to his iPod.
Below: The view on a clear Saturday afternoon as we cross the Rama IX Bridge.
Our first stop once we arrived in Samut Songkhram (after picking up Ajarn Yai, of course) was the temple at the birthplace of King Rama II. The interior of the bot, or main chapel, has beautiful murals showing the history of the King’s life along with four murals illustrating scenes from novels that the King – who was a noted author – wrote.
We were fortunate that there was a young monk who was able to give us a tour of the temple, telling us about the murals in detail which we then translated into English for all the guests. The monk had two small tattoos of his dolphin, one on his shoulder blade and another on his wrist. Upon asking, he explained that when he was a teenager he was quite keen about dolphins. Not something you see every day. Can you see one in the picture?
Below: The group in the temple. Ajarn Yai is sitting to my right.
After the temple visit, we went to the market and perused the offerings and then had dinner. There are all sorts of fantastic khanom – snacks – for sale and one could skip dinner and just nosh your way through the stalls.
Below: A very Thai dessert in which egg yolks are drizzled into a pan of boiling palm sugar syrup. Now why don’t they make a whole wheat version of that?
Below: One vendor dressed her daughter up in a traditional Thai outfit with her hair pulled into a small bun, to advertise her goods, which you can see are now sold out!
Among the great foods we ate were grilled river prawns and fresh calamari, fresh seafood omelet (left), stewed fish and fish curries. There’s no shortage of tasty things!
After dinner we went for a canal and boat tour. Last time I was in Samut Songkhram (with Ken, Bill and his mother) we did a daytime tour of the canals and actually got stuck in the mud during low tide!
This time, we decided to take the nighttime tour to see famous hing hoi – fireflies – of Amphawa.
The ten of us piled into a long-tail boat, powered by an old Toyota pickup engine, and headed off into the dark canals to see how many fireflies we could find.
Unfortunately the winds were quite strong and this is not favorable for firefly viewing, or so I’m told. We did find some areas along the river where there were clouds of fireflies twinkling in the trees.
Some interesting observations: Fireflies only stay in the deciduous trees, not in the neighboring palms. The entire swarm in any one tree blinks synchronously, giving the impression that they are actually a string of low-wattage twinkle lights.
Frankly, it was a little underwhelming. With all the holiday lights up in Khrungthep and the general Thai propensity to decorate with twinkle lights, the natural beauty of the fireflies pales in comparison. That’s pretty sad, isn’t it?
Below: Another boatload of visitors heads out from the floating market to find the fireflies.
Monday was Daniel’s birthday so I had helped Joe arrange for a half-day at the spa for a full range treatment: body wrap, facial, scalp massage, full body massage, pedicure, manicure, etc. Sounds nice. I’ve never actually done that. Maybe one of these days…
Anyhow, Tawn and I met Joe and Daniel for dinner at Mahanaga restaurant. This Thai fusion restaurant on Sukhumvit Soi 39 was designed as Ble, our friend who designed our condo. It is a very nice restaurant and a pleasant way to conclude their visit.
Right: Daniel and Joe and the “very Thai” brownie and ice cream.
Below: A variety of fusion desserts. Top – passion fruit ice cream, Middle – deep fried bananas, Bottom – a fancy take on the traditional Thai dessert of sangkaiya faktong – an egg and palm sugar custard served in a pumpkin. Normally this dessert is served in a small, hollowed-out pumpkin but big points for presentation here.
As the week continues, we’ll head Friday to Chiang Rai for Pune and Detlev’s wedding. So it may be a few more days before my next entry but there will be interesting things to see and read.