Amphawa

22 Nov

On Katie’s last weekend in Thailand, I played hooky from school and we took an overnight trip down to Amphawa. Amphawa is a small town an hour and half southwest of Bangkok, along the Mae Klong River (not to be confused with the much larger Mekong River that runs through several southeast Asian countries). The town is built right along the banks of the river, and is riddled with canals. The result is a fun warren of little alleys, houses on stilts, and longtail boats that serve as makeshift market stalls. The market is very authentically Thai; most of the market customers are domestic Thai tourists taking weekend trips from Bangkok. There were so few Westerners in Amphawa in fact, that people took photos of Katie and I sitting and eating Thai food along the canal. This also means that the majority of the things for sale are either food and produce for the locals, or gifts that appeal to Thais, like super glitzy headbands and t-shirts with Thai slogans on them. We did find some fun trinkets and had a great time wandering around. We also tried to find new foods for Katie to try. Most of the longtail boats sell food – pad thai, grilled river prawns, etc. – that they cook right inside the boat and serve up to folks seated on the side of the canal. We had some delicious seafood pad thai, burnt coconut water, strong coffee, multiple types of tropical fruit, and Katie tried som tum for the first time. Yum!

In the evening, we took a friend’s advice and joined a longtail boat tour of the river. During the rainy season, there are whole colonies of fireflies that breed in the trees along the riverbanks. Entire trees were coated with teeny, tiny twinkling lights. One would almost think they were Christmas lights, but there were entirely too many, in super remote areas, far from electricity. Katie and I were the only farang on the tour, which led to an amusing moment or two. The boat pilot definitely gave some information and cracked a few jokes that everyone laughed at but us – gotta love it! The boat ride itself was beautiful. The air was delightfully cool, and we followed the canals far into the countryside. There was just enough residual light to see the outlines of trees, with random occasional houses and signs of civilization. At one point, we rounded a bend and encountered the dark outline of a huge statue seated atop a temple. It looked like a giant about to hop up and stride into the river after us. Crazy! Sadly, neither the statue or the fireflies photographed well, but we did take some self-pics of our snazzy neon pink lifejackets. 🙂

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