Sunday, December 15, 2013

The 50 Baht Heritage Tour

Where we boarded the Boat
Back to the Klong Lad Ma Yom Floating Market. There along the klong, a somewhat middle aged man was speaking through a loudhailer. I decided to move closer and have a look. What's this I asked. 50 Baht tour by boat, one hour plus, visit home stay. Whatever that really meant I had no clear idea, but jumped at it I did. It was only 50 Baht and I had time on my hands.

We sat shoulder to shoulder, two to a row in the long tail boat propelled by a splattering diesel. Well most of us sat that way except for a lone big farang. Farangs are very useful in theses very low riding long tail boats, he was asked by the boat man to shift left, right and then some till the boat balanced out. Didn't know large farangs can be used this way, organic counterbalance indeed. The engine revved up, with a puff of diesel fumes emitted from behind the boat, our journey started.

The Thailandpost Postman
Riding low and gently slow along the narrow waterways, we saw how life was like by the klongs. Alongside were footpath erected above the water, that's the only way the folks there could get home. The inhabitants could be seen walking the windy and sometimes precarious pathways, on occasions a motorcycle steering about in a carful balancing act whizzes pass. Electrical cables on poles sprouted out of the murky waters and ran the length of the waterways. Plastic blue pipes delivering fresh water into the vicinity held by ropes hangs off the walls. There was one fisherman we saw clearing his net as our boat drew close to him, his catch was not fish but an accidental water snake. We were taken back a few decades on this journey, I saw how post was delivered by the postman on boat. This is real life, not a mock up of past traditional ways.

Homes by the River
About half an hour later, we arrived at someone's house. The boat berthed alongside his residence and we gingerly stood up and stepped onto dry land trying not to rock the boat about too much. He welcomed us in, the whole crowd, and explained things. Life by the klongs are fast disappearing, many of such areas had been overtaken by large developers offering large sums of money. These developers fills the land in, and erected large scale housing estates we see so common now across rural areas surrounding the metro. His community will resist the offer, and keep life the way it used to be. This so just to retain the heritage, for us and all future urban folks to see. The house was of very traditional built, weathered timber infused with cement, red tiled floors and wooden decks. He welcomed us to visit all rooms, except maybe one that is lock with his daughter changing within. Decorated with items of antiquity, the visitors posed, the cameras clicked. We chatted in cool winter weather, he told tales of the river lives, the people, the past, the now and the future. This is the way life was and is for him. His ambition, to submit the area into the UNESCO list.

Home Stay.. . . . Eerie..
We were guided to walk the pathways to where our boat was waiting. Go through the home stay over somewhere there and then ask for directions to the temple where our boatman awaits. Somewhere there? Where? He said follow the path then left left right left or something. It turned out to be an interesting treasure hunt as we separated from the main group on our own. Navigating the walkways not marked on the GPS I so desperately tried to use, we somehow arrived at a doorway where a woman greeted us. She ushered us in and told us she had turned her compound into a home stay for visitors. Among the greens and algae ridden stone walkways, there one rustic bungalow that look from the set of Tim Burton's movies stood. Interesting indeed to find such lodging within a place like this, it is well known not, but through words of mouth and social media her hope is for the reach.

The search for the Temple
Going further thru the lost world of the rural, we eventually found the temple and we found our boatman. We stepped in the long tail boat floating low on the water, the farang shifted according to instructions to balance the boat. The engine revved up. Puttering spluttering, our journey ends with the sight and sound of the floating market that came into view.

Riding low on the Klong
Riding low on the Klong
A Traditional House by the Klong
The Compound from Above
Rustic Furniture
Open Roof Toilet
Dining Table
A Small Classroom
Free Drinks for Guest
The Alley
A Traditional House
Riding low on the Klong

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