Saturday, 27 December 2014

Discover Samut Songkhram - 20 Dec 2014

Samut Songkhram is a coastal province at the mouth of the Mae Klong river to the Gulf of Thailand. The area is a low basin with many canals, against a backdrop of thick groves of coconut palms and many seasonal fruit trees.  Though there're the usual touristy places, but there're also many cottage industries waiting to be discovered. We hope to come here again for a longer visit.

Salt fields along Highway 35 enroute to Samut Songkhram. We didn't see the actual 'salt harvesting' though it's usually done between Nov and April. Windmills pump the seawater from the Gulf along the canals to the salt fields. The water is left to evaporate under the hot sun. The entire process, which takes about 1 1 /2 months, is still very labour intensive. 

For several kilometres along the highway, bags of sea salts are sold by the workers. That's why this stretch is also known as the Salt Road. The finest salt is reserved for the beauty industry, others are graded for cooking, medicine, cosmetics.... Saw some colourful seaweed looking plants around the salt fields but can't ID them.... Along the highway, we could see many colourful and fancy heavy vehicles with elaborate decorations - maybe it's also their culture??

The salt fields are also a haven for birds. We saw some black-winged stilts, waders, egrets and many storks in the sky. We didn't have time to stop for ID but they're everywhere.

Our first stop at Nopparat Garden resort at Amphawa. It's a new resort along the Mae Klong river, open in April 2014. It has the comfort of a resort and very reasonably priced, it's a good alternative to the common homestays around the area.

I cannot over emphasise this place is superb to chill and relax. It's just sooooo quiet here.
  

They have a great chef, good in cooking authentic Thai dishes. That's the famous 'pla-thu' fish that's in season now (the soup is like the Indian rasam, sour in taste and also the fried pla-thu); bubbling steamed egg with seafood; famous fried fish with special spicy sauce and a 'grassy' dish with coconut milk. It looked like pine needles. (clockwise)

Idyllic life at the Amphawa village

Amphawa and the surrounding areas are like hidden gems that're still very accessible from Bangkok. Away from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok city.

Famous Benjarong in Amphawa, ie hand-painted porcelain in Thailand. Benjarong is to Thailand what I think pewter is to Malaysia.

Benjarong artisans at work.

The oldest Catholic church in Thailand - a French Gothic architectural style. Built in 1890 by a French missionary.

The way leading to N.R. Homestay. Homestays are popular for tourists in Amphawa, esp backpackers, as a way to experience the village life.

The Amphawa canal at the front of the homestay. This place used to be the home of our friend.

My boys love this place - there're many canals, waterways, coconut and banana trees surrounding the homestay. Perfect playground for children to play and get lost in the compound. There's NO flooding in this area, cos all the canals and waterways flow to the sea. The homestay comprises a few buildings built haphazardly at different times and for different needs over the years, which gave much character to this place.

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