Perhaps closeness ... makes us feel like far.
Perhaps closeness ... makes us feel like nothing.
And perhaps because of closeness ...we overlook it.
I'm talking about one place...
"Samut Songkhram Province"
If we compare this province with love, it's like a "close friend" who is always there for you. No matter happiness or sorrow, this friend is always beside you.
It's beside you and close to Bangkok, which is waiting for you to come and make yourself happy.
If I ask, what comes first across your mind when talking about this province?
"Amphawa" seems to be the answer that many people come up with and what else?
Many people can't really think of anything else. It's like someone extracts your brain and that stops you from thinking and deliberating. Many people think that there is not much interesting there...
I was one of those who "ever" thought so before having the opportunity to thoroughly experience this province.
Thank you a great opportunity from the Tourism Authority of Thailand that gives me "Fluke" from page "Scratchdaworld" and my teammate "Chill" from page "Chill Journey" to join this national campaign in order to promote Thailand tourism as so-called,
"The Amazing Journey: Blogging Contest 12 Must-Visit Cities"
This campaigned has complied many bloggers and passionate travellers together with 12 must-visit cities. We are assigned to explore a city called Smut Songkhram province.
The first moment I know about this, I am in shock because Chill and I did not know this province good enough. The reason may be because of its "closeness".
Samut Songkhram is less than a hundred kilometres away from Bangkok. Whereas, Chiang Mai is more than seven hundred kilometres away but we know it much better! It's clear enough that Chiang Mai has many interesting things to offer. However, when my team come here, we look at each other and agree on the same page that "how could we overlook great places that are so close to Bangkok like this".
And in this review, we take you to know this province better!
TT12 team is responsible for Smut Songkhram province.
Fluke from page Scratch da world.
Chill from page Chill Journey
Let me first introduce to this campaign roughly.
The Amazing Journey :Blogging Contest
This campaign is a collaboration between the Tourism Authority of Thailand and website www.ttbn.co, which is a travel blogger network website of Thailand. There are also 2 more sponsors such Thai Rent A Car; a car rental company and Nok Air; Thai domestic airline. These are perfectly enough as major transport options.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand begins this campaign by choosing a representative of each team in visiting 12 must-visit cities. I was honored to participate in this together with another quality travel blogger such Chill as already mentioned.
12 must-visit cities consists of Lampang, Nan, Loei, Buriram, Phetchabun, Trat, Chanthaburi, Samut Songkhram, Ratchaburi, Chumphon, Trang and Nakhon Si Thammarat.
If this review is desirable or beneficial to you, please come to cheer us up at the below link.
http://www.thethailandbloggernetwork.com/teams/det... and here you can enjoy watching a video about this trip.
** I recommend finishing this review before watching this video ^^.
PS. The King Rama II Memorial Park is not in this review because I accidentally delete the file. Knock my head one-time for this error hahaha.
This review, we intend to make it easy, relaxing and fun with beautiful photos. Once finish reading, you can surely be on the track of this 3 day and 2 night trip or you can make merge it to a 2 day and 1 night trip.
Overview of this trip
- Depart from Bangkok
- Maeklong Railway Market, Wat Bang Kung, The King Rama II Memorial Park, Amphawa.
- Overnight stay in Amphawa district (Baan Amphawa Resort and Spa)
- Tha Kha Floating Market, Bang Noi Market and Bang Nok Kwaek Market
- Lunch at Krua Khun Jah
- The Nativity of Our Lady Cathedral
- Wat Bang Khae Noi
- Overnight stay in Khlong Khon (Baan Mai Chai lane Resort)
-Conservation activities at Khlong Khon
-Lunch and departure to Bangkok
If you can make it on a weekday, it will be different atmosphere as there are not many tourists.
Some places are very peaceful to keep you stay longer, you have to give it a try.
If weekday doesn't work best to you, stay on track of this trip with us on cozy Friday Saturday Sunday.
Samut Songkhram is about one hour drive from Bangkok.
Many people tend to use it as just a way through to the south or beach destinations such as Hua Hin or Cha-Am.
And keep passing by it again and again.
After our visit to this province, I must say that it has many things to offer than we ever thought of.
Let's go and explore here together!
This trip we use a car from Thai Rent A Car and drive straight out of Bangkok on Friday at noon.
It takes not that long, about an hour till we safely arrive in Samut Songkhram.
First of all, we visit is a national famous place. It has a chic gimmick attracting attention known as "umbrella pull-down show".
"The Maeklong Railway Market" nicknamed in Thai as Talad Rom Hoop.
This market started selling on train tracks since 1984 on the route Maeklong-Ban Laem.
Vendors sell a great variety of fresh and not fresh products, foods, dessert and random goods adjacent to the train tracks.
Tourists will have breath-taking experience when the train approaches and venders have to move their stuffs, pick up baskets, buckets, pots, and bowls then put down awnings and umbrellas within a blink of an eye. Otherwise, the train may take them with it!!!
Unfortunately, we have no chance to experience this charm as mentioned because the train stops running on this route from now till the end of this year .
And no one can tell whether it will be running again next year. I hope it will, as I haven't seen it yet.
Alright, we park the car outside the market nearby Maeklong railway station.
And GPS coordinates to get here is: 13.407467, 99.998850.
You can walk to any street, head to train track direction and there it is market in your heart in the heart of train track.
Although the train stop running, but a way of life here does not.
Everyone still has to do their duty because these people are not just one individual, they have many more people to take care of.
As you can see, a variety of fresh vegetables and goods are sold here. Don't miss "Maeklong Mackerel".
The market is not as bustling as it used to be after the train stops running.
And this also results to the increase in quietness.
But I believe that it does not impinge on the happiness of locals here. I can tell from their smile and friendliness.
The charm of living does not stop though the train stop running.
It's still interesting to those who pass by as always.
And anyone who has a chance, do not miss a visit to see this market.
Next stop, I take you to a place known as Unseen in Thailand.
"Wat Bang Kung and its chapel known as Bot Prok Pho"
The chapel is covered by large Bodhi tree and banyan tree. A large Buddha statue known as Luangpho Nilmanee Sithongaram is enshrined inside.
It's very beautiful. I'm not here for that long because there is a group of 30 Chinese tourists. However, I successfully absorb the splendour of this place.
Nearby, there is Bang Kung Camp and the monument of King Taksin where children can visit based on historical knowledge as well.
GPS coordinates of Wat Bang Kung : 13.44613, 99.941211.
I continue to the King Rama II Memorial Park, which is adjacent to the Amphawa floating market.
The advantage of visiting this province is each place is not far from each other. It's so convenient.
King Rama II Memorial Park is a project to commemorate Phra Phutthaloetla Naphalai. The park was opened to the public on June 1, 1987.
The first thing to do when visiting here is ... taking a walk.
Gosh! admission ticket must be brought first. It's pretty cheap at only 30 baht.
You will be welcomed by a green lawn, garden and a traditional Thai house that stands in front before you find the Rama II Museum.
It's a large traditional Thai house exhibiting art objects in the early Rattanakosin period and reflecting ways of life of the Thais who lived during those days.
The weather is very warm outside but with air-conditioning inside making it cooler.
Therefore, I have the knowledge and coolness 2 in 1.
A pleasant and classic atmosphere inside the park
To get here is very easy as long as you can find Amphawa, you will surely be able to locate this park.
Inside the museum
Comfortable looking at the wooden house and relaxing with the green surrounding...
After we complete the visit at King Rama II Memorial Park. The next stop is surely Amphawa as it's almost walking distance.
Everyone seems to know Amphawa floating market quite well; therefore I don't have to talk much about it. Nowadays, it's still classic.
You can still chill out here if you come a bit early though there might be many people during the weekend.
Animal lotto game.. I haven't played for so long.
Sometimes, I want to take a time machine to recall my childhood again when visiting Amphawa.
Antique stuffs and candy are still sold here. I think price doesn't really value these stuffs but instead memories of buyers do value them.
If you walk a bit further far when it's not busy, you will probably find peace. It's very pleasant.
However, it's still chaotic and exciting in some places. Optimistically speaking, it's something fun and joyful.
Boat... an important vehicle of Amphawa floating market.
Also, Samut Songkhram, the city where way of life is always related to rivers. Every activities since the beginning till the end of the day, 3 times a day are carried out by boat.
Nowadays, there are many visitors. This benefits to the national tourism.
It also generates revenue for the community and at the same time builds up province's reputation.
It's so warm here, thus we need to cool down with something cold and tasty like this Thai ice cream.
It's really a must to try when visiting here.
Amphawa is still unceasingly charming.
Though it may not be as traditional as it used to be but it still has a lot of interesting things to explore...
Alright, it's time to go to resort and leave our stuffs.
We stay at Baan Amphawa Resort & Spa. It's a wooden house resort with good atmosphere.
It's time to escape the heat and cool us down after sunbathing and sweating almost a half-day.
And now the stomach coordinates with intestine to harmoniously play orchestra music.
Or it's translated as "hungry"
I hope that Fluke is not too hungry to eat my head lol.
Friday evening we choose not to go out. We leave our stomachs with the riverside restaurant at Baan Amphawa Resort. It's a waterfront restaurant with very relaxing atmosphere.
We order 4 dishes for our dinner because of hunger. We forget that we are just two people thus we are completely full. It's my tip to ask a waiter what is recommended menu when ordering if there is nothing special in mind. Therefore, this time I take the 4 recommended dishes.
First dish is Mae Klong mackerel boiled with sugar cane. Samut Songkhram is very well known for its good quality of Mae Klong mackerel. Sugarcane gives sweet flavour and mackerel has its natural oil. Boiling these together is very tasty.
The second dish is fried prawn with garlic and coriander root. It's delicious as it should be.
The third dish is river prawn with tamarind sauce , a big river prawn is cut in half then fried and topped with a sweet and sour tamarind sauce. This dish is super delicious.
Ending up with a soup menu like a spicy river prawn soup with young coconut or known as Tom Yum Kung. Big river prawns in spicy soup, full-flavoured with young coconut meat is really a perfect blend.
Starting Saturday morning, we wake up since chickens are not crowing. We drive from the hotel to Tha Kha Floating Market (GPS 13.4718221 99.9953219). It's a traditional way of selling from a boat unlike the atmosphere at Amphawa. I highly recommend here for those who want to see a traditional way of life at waterfront. It's really peaceful here, a real slow life and real locals.
There is free parking at the market. It's just a few steps to get to the canal. Don't be surprised that this is all. That is Tha Kha Market.
We come here very early in the morning. There are not that many people. It's so calm and chill, very different from Amphawa. I'm told that the market is bustling from 8-9 hrs. onwards.
If you come here, you will not be disappointed. You will surely see locals sell fruits and food from boats.
It's unbelievable that it is less than a hundred kilometres away from the bustling Bangkok. It has a great atmosphere.
After we have enough slow life here, my stomach starts to cry, it's not slow as the life here. Therefore, I leave my stomach with breakfast here,the first meal of the day. I buy a bowl of Braised Fish Maw for just 20 baht. It's incredible cheap.
From Tha Kha Floating Market, we drive back towards Amphawa and drop by at "Bang Nok Kwaek Market" (GPS: 13.4622587,99.9442839).
It's a traditional market that has not been developed yet. The atmosphere is very traditional and quiet. There are not many shops as only locals sell by themselves. If you happen to pass by, please support them, as we don't want to loose such a good tradition like this.
Don't miss this place for those who are a fan of slow life. The entrance of the market is very narrow like this; you just have to walk through.
The atmosphere inside is very quiet. There are a few shops open. No travellers. Only shops that opened by the locals themselves.
It's great to chill out, sit at the waterfront and let your body and soul go with the cool breeze.
Besides the slow life, there's another great thing about this place and that is "dry rice". This restaurant was once on television. Don't ask which restaurant, as there is only one. Fluke tells me that he had dry rice once in Phuket and it's yummy so I try a little bit.
Just to try a little bit but we order one per each. It's my first time having this dry rice. If you don't know what it is, just think of boiled rice without soup. Somehow it's so good, clear?
When we come out at the entrance of Bang Nok Kwaek Market. We find another well-known restaurant called "Paea Crab Noodle" and it is open serving crab noodle just like its name.
My stomach is about to explode so we order just one to share. I think its flavour is just fine but if you visit here you shouldn't miss it either.
We continue driving from Bang Nok Kwaek Market to Bang Noi floating market. (GPS 13.4622587,99.9442839).
It is another market that I highly recommend. The atmosphere is similar to the old Amphawa when it wasn't well known. Life is slow enough but not too slow like Bang Nok Kwaek Market. Nearby, it is adjacent to "Wat Koh Kaew". There is parking inside the temple and from there you can walk to the market.
Shops in this market are well decorated. There are many chic corners for taking photos. If those hipsters come, they will surely have many chic photos.
Bang Noi Floating Market has a easy and chic concept of "Natural Charm"
In addition, Bang Noi Floating Market has a famous Teochew Roti, a very sticky dessert that you can enjoy chewing. Only found here in the world.
After my first bite, I begin to question.
Chill: "Is this Teochew Roti from China?"
Grandma: "No, it is from my grandfather. It was first made for children but many people like it. Since then it has been made for sell and only available here".
Chill: "How is it related to Teochew then?"
Grandma: "Because my grandfather is Teochew... "
In conclusion, this Teochew Roti is not from Teochew but it is something discovered by ancestor of seller. Its recipe is to fry Roti dough till it is slightly cooked, add brawn sugar, sesame, and peanut. Then roll into a small bite and place into a banana leave container. A set of 3 pieces is 20 baht and it is good for 1 person. After eating the first set if it's too oily, drink a cup of hot tea so that you can enjoy another set. I do the same!
As we have been eating in 3 different floating markets, now it's time for a walk to digest otherwise my stomach will surely explode. And from now Fluke will lead us.
Sure! I have to lead you with my belly since we overeat because they are all so yummy! hahaha
After we enjoy floating markets already, it's time to debark and unload happiness on land at....
"The Nativity of Our Lady Cathedral"
This beautiful church is located in "Wat Mae Phra Bangkoet" which was built in 1890 by Father Paulo Salmon; the abbot at that time.
The church was built in Gothic art by brick giving touch of Europe. The day I arrive here, the sky is so clear and the light is just perfect thus everything looks so good.
Nearby the church is a school where we can experience the loveliness of children as extra thing to our trip.
GPS Coordinates of the Nativity of Our Lady Cathedral: 13.49538, 99.924688.
Look at this, the sky is so clear but unfortunately we can't go inside as it is already closed.
The wind turbine stands against the wind. I stand and watch it from a distance next to Mae Klong river where it has no Klong or drum in English...
But the peacefulness of the canal is always so inviting to see.
After satisfying with photos taken from the Nativity of Our Lady Cathedral, it's time to move on to another place. It is not far from here. That is Wat Bang Khae Noi.
I really like the fact that each location is so close to each other so we don't have to rush. We can inhale a full breath of happiness in every place.
Wat Bang Khae Noi is very famous because of its beautiful teak wood monastery aged for more than a hundred year. Inside are wooden carving walls of the Buddha story.
You can get here by boat or car. The back of the temple is facing to the river. It's so beautiful as it should be. The sky is blue, the sun is sunny but it is extremely warm.
The GPS coordinates of Wat Bang Khae Noi: 13.42988, 99.945368.
Beautiful corners inside the temple.
And this is the main monastery, let's have a look!
This is inside the main monastery and its famous and beautiful golden teak wood.
A monk explains the story of each pictures on the walls while I'm walking. It's really a warm welcome. I gain both the knowledge and peaceful mind when I'm here.
One thing I really like about this temple is the calm atmosphere at the waterfront. We walk and take photos for a while.
It's obviously that our body clocks and our wristwatches don't run simultaneously.
And this proves the meaning of "slow life".
And now, we take you to Khlong Khon, one of interesting places that has many activities to offer.
Chill tells me to move to somewhere cooler as it's so sunny here and the skin is getting damaged. hahaha
Oh, don't be afraid of that Chill. I can take you to skin mask with natural mud at Khlong Khon.
There are various homestay with a similar package at Khlong Khon. This is really depends on each individual preference and the money you have in your pocket.
For this trip, we choose to stay at "Baan Mai Chai lane" which is recommended by someone we know. We are told that it id fun here and foods are yummy.
2 day and 1 night package at Baan Mai Chai lane is 1,500 baht. It's a small wooden house in the Mangrove forest or Chai lane in Thai same as the homestay name. You can find small fishes swimming here.
Let's take a look inside the room. It's a standard room and reasonable for this price. It's comfortable enough.
Taking a walk, having a nap and relaxing at homestay till the evening. Actually dinner is included in the package too but we are way too arrogant not wanting to have it here. Well, we want to seek for a renowned restaurant for this review. Thus, we drive to a famous restaurant in the area of Khlong Khon.
Someone recommends us this restaurant named "Kuhn Jah". I really have to give 10 points for its deliciousness. While I'm writing this review, I wish I could go back there again. It's not difficult to get there as it is close to Luang Poo Khao Yi San Shrine Museum. You can easily use Google map to direct you. ( GPS 13.3015505,99.903174 )
Caution! This review is not suitable for those who are on diet.
The first 3 recommended dishes that I really want you to try are.
- Fried sun dried fish
It's well sun dried, not too juicy and not too dry. Super yummy.
- Recommended menu is Cha-Khram leaves (Seepweed leaves) with shrimp paste chilli sauce. Seepweed leaves look like leaves of Cha-Om (Acacia leaves) but softer and more delicious. It's topped with coconut milk and served with shrimp paste chilli sauce. The shrimp paste is not smelly and so tasty (I usually don't eat shrimp paste but it's really delicious here)
-And finally the standard menu of Bangkokian, which is fried squid with salted egg. A very simple menu but it's cooked so tasty here.
The other 3 dishes eat to forget her lol.
- Stir-fried vegetables for those who don't like spicy. It's also tasty.
- To smooth the throat, we order seafood soup with big prawns and lots of squids. Again, it's super tasty.
- And we finish up with scald cockles. They are so fresh especially when dipping with seafood sauce. What a yummy dish!
Waking up for breakfast, breathing in fresh air and enjoying the nature of Mangrove forest. The conservation activity is at 09:00hrs. Firstly, we must put on the life jackets for safety reason. Although we can swim but anything can possibly happen. Therefore, this practice must be strictly followed.
The boats runs along the canal, which is muddy alike its name in Thai as Khlong Khon.
On the way, we see how the locals live by the sea and collect shellfish to make a living. Everything performs just the same. It doesn't even change by time.
When taking the boat, you can smell the nature and the sea. It's so charming as it should be. You can see the classic of waterfront and the nature by the bay. By seeing this gives you a touchable feeling.
This is part of livelihood by the sea and it can be seen through all way long depends on your fate.
When the boat passes the locals for a while, we can see the Mangrove forest on the right side with a "monkey" Yes, you see it right.
They are monkeys, and they are at the sea. They don't eat bananas but they eat "crab" how high class they are. This is so-called Amazing Thailand.
Another amazing thing is "the house of albino monkey". I'm told by boat driver that long time ago before locals going to work or fishing they often came to pray to one albino monkey for wealth as a return and it worked. Thus, after this albino monkey died, locals built this sacred house and these days there are still many of them come to pay.
Then the boat takes us to the shellfish farm. There are oyster, mussel and cockle. Oyster is cultivated by ropes that already attached oyster seeds then bind them with cages as you can see from the picture. During high tide, they drawn in the water and then grow till they can be harvested to sell.
The mussel grow naturally on wooden poles without any cultivation...This is really the livelihood here where you can experience and gain some knowledge at the same time.
After visiting the shellfish farm, we continue taking a boat and enjoying the cool breeze on the way back to the area of Mangrove forest. We will join the activity to plant Mangrove trees there. Let's go!
This is a fun activity. You can notice the smiles in the picture. The happiness from here is delivered to those who are on the boat. If you can come in a big group, it will be much more fun. Some people play with mud and throw to another. It's a mess but full of joy and memorable experience.
For a child or a no longer child hahaha. You don't have to worry about walking on mud, as there are staffs to help you. ^^
I thought the staff to help not to hold or carry like this lol.
Just a simple view that "created by nature"
After we complete the Mangrove planting activity, we continue taking the boat to have lunch on "Karteng", the hut of fisherman that built in the middle of the sea. On the way you can see how to harvest cockles. Local has a board to slide on the mud and slowly collect cockles. This is really a folk wisdom.
The sea is in front and a mountain is aside. What a magnificent atmosphere and great life!
Especially seeing this little hut, a Bangkokian like me who has a hustle life is so jealous on a easily simple life here. What can be happier than waking up in the morning with good weather, the sea in front and a mountain behind?
After morning activities, we have lunch on Krateng or as said earlier that it is a hut of fishermen in the middle of the sea. It is a set lunch for 8 people including Cha-Khram leaves (Seepweed leaves) with shrimp paste chilli sauce, fried fish with fish sauce, scald cockles, grilled squid and Meklong mackerel. They are all very delicious. Especially the seafood sauce is supper tasty.
We have been eating in the natural air, having a nap, resting our belly, relaxing our mind and soak up joy and happiness to our life. After lunch on Karteng, it is then time to have fun again with "a board on the mud". We can try how to slide on mud with a board, whether it is easy like locals do or not.
First, there is a demonstration by a specialist. Then a group of brave volunteers must open the scene. This activity no one is eliminated, no one is won and no one is rewarded....but everyone can take as much joy and happiness back home.
A group of brave volunteers begin to slide on board not even a meter till they stuck in the mud. It's harder than you think. Others cheer them up and of course laugh about this so badly.
These little cheerleaders also cheer up on Krateng. They are not down on the mud.
Everything that has a beginning has an ending. We meet we also have to leave. It's a time to be back on land.
"Time for fun is gone" Teletubbie voice rises all the way long. Although a good story is about to end but it will never be disappeared. Good memories stay with us forever.
And this is a simple happiness given by a city that every single activity is related to rivers since the beginning of till the end of the day.
It's so close...Have you been through?
It's so close and it has many things that you never thought of.
Since it's so close.... how much do you know about it? Get to know it and you will shortly fall in love with this city.
Fluke from page Scratch da world.
Chill from page Chill Journey