2018 Thailand series: 7€ for a 3.5 hours boat ride in Amphawa floating market!
After a week of hardcore science in Chiang Mai, me and Kathleen made a short stop in Bangkok. But before I jump into the main story, I’d like to introduce two friends who joined us and shortly mention how I came to know them.
During the second year of my bachelors, I was one of the delegate that was sent to study for a semester in Kasetsart University, Bangkok. During that time, I came to know a lot of nice people and we kept in touch since then. Let me introduce you Aun and Oil. Both Aun and Oil studied engineering. I met them in Thai studies and advance English course back then. Currently, Aun runs her businesses (e.g. RUT Coffee Love สาขาลาซาล58 บางนา) and YouTube channel, whereas Oil is working hard in a company.
That day we left quite early since we needed to take a taxi and BTS to meet Aun and Oil. It took us around 1.5 hour from Bangkok to Amphawa with Aun on the wheels and lem'me tell'ya that she's a good driver. Moreover, we had a good weather and no traffic!
As soon as we arrived, there were two things we saw: 1. view of the river and 2. food! There was so many delicous food to eat and so we tried these sweet and crunchy crackers made by this lady as shown in the 4th picture.
Continuing on, we made our way around the market with Aun as our tour guide. She was familiar with the area since she stayed once in one of the floating hotels owned by her parent’s friend. Yup, tourists can spend a night sleeping above the river! I wonder what happens when the water level rises because later during the day, we were literally walking on water. It wasn’t even raining!
So, for lunch, we took a break in one of the King’s river conservation site: Royally-Initiated Ampawa Chaipattananurak Project. We had this typical fried fish with veggies and blue rice served on banana leaves. The spicy dip was mixed with shrimps (“terasi” in Indonesia) and it was good especially on a hot sunny day.
Shortly after, we walked around the green area, saw a lot of tropical trees and lizards. We stopped by the bee keeping hut and also an area where the people produce palm sugar from Arenga pinnata (fyi: my bachelor's thesis topic was on somatic embryogenesis of sugar palm). Furthermore, we got a chance to try mixing the sugar batter and it was actually quite tough not to spin too hard or too soft.
People can utilize all parts of the sugar palm: starch from the bark, make a roof from the leaves, dessert from the fruit (“kolang-kaling”) and make a broom from the fiber (“ijuk"). However, up to date, sugar palms are not cultivated in large plantations like oil palm. They are more laborious to maintain due to the leaves that tend to get stuck in between the fibrous bark. Economically speaking, there is a higher demand for oil produced from Elaeis guineensis compared to sugar from sugar palm. The sugar from sugar palm is not the same as sugar from sugar cane in terms of flavor, aroma and texture. It is also important to know is that a lot of sugar palm sold in the market is often a mixture, therefore the taste is not as good as when you taste the pure one. I’m not actually sure how they harvest the sap here in Thailand, but back home in Indonesia, people collect traditionally using a long bamboo from forest grown sugar palm. Then they would cook it and mold it to shape.
Moving on, Aun arranged a private boat ride tour, just us girls and the uncle who was driving us around. At first, we didn’t expect too much since we paid around €7 per person. In fact, the boat trip was really awesome and worth it!
In Thailand, number 9 is a lucky number and indeed, we visited 9 different “wat” (temples) in 3.5 hours!!! Truthfully speaking, after this temple trip, I wouldn’t be upset for not visiting other temples. Each temple has their own character and their own Buddha. Some are more modern, then the others. One of my favorite was this was old temple covered with moss. I can't recall the name but this temple looks very fitting for a scenery in a Tomb Raider game (1st and 2nd image). One of the famous wat was our last stop, a temple which has overgrown by a tree (3rd and 4th image). As a tip, when you visit any temple, it is highly recommended to wear clothes that are not too open (e.g. tank top, short pants/skirt) - to show respect.
In each temple, I saw Buddhists praying, asking for blessings as well as asking for fortunes. One way to get a fortune is to ask your question, shake a cup filled with wooden sticks that have numbers written on them, and take a fortune paper with the number that came out. I would see also visitors obtaining a piece of cloth or paper with a mantra drawn for good luck.
Lastly, what visitors need to know when doing this boat trip, is that in one of the stops, there was a wat with a lot of pomelo and fruits sold in the terrace outside. There was an auntie who sold pomelo grown from her own field. These pomelo were really delicious and relatively cheap! She knew which pomelo which was ripe or needed a few more days just by hearing the echo when hitting the fruit. I would definitely recommend to buy from her.
Our boat trip ended up late in the afternoon. We could have stayed longer through the night to see the fireflies blinking like little christmas light ornaments, but we were all quite famished and tired. In the end we took a few bites and left back to Bangkok. It was indeed a fun day!