Thursday, July 14, 2011

Amphawa Getaway: Getting Out Of Dodge

Our riverside table view of the Mae Klong river, making it's way to the Gulf of Thailand

A friend drove me to Amphawa for a few days a while back. Depending on traffic it takes a couple of hours to drive Southwest of Bangkok and into the Samut Songkhram district to Amphawa, a reasonably quiet town that straddles the Mae Klong river as it flows its last stretch to the Gulf of Thailand.

My friend arrived around 09:00 to collect me and my stuff from the lobby of my Bangkok hotel, and off we went for four days without me having a clue as to where we were going. My friend likes to surprise me with places he thinks I'll like, and so far he's been right on the money with his guesses.  All he told me before we set out was that (A) it would only take a couple of hours to get there from Bangkok, (B) it was going to be peaceful, (C) he had resisted his usual habit of over-booking things to do while we were there and (D) that it was a place where I would see very few other farang.  That alone made it worth trying, so I was all in.

After crossing the Kanchanaphisek bridge we made our way to Highway 25 and went off in a somewhat Southwesterly direction and past the largely sea port district of Samaut Sakorn, where my friend was born and raised. My friend being a cautious driver we moved along at the speed limit for a while, talking and listening to music as we went

He asked "Are you hungry?" and I had to admit I was, since breakfast had been at 06:30 when the kitchen opened.  "We're almost to the place I'd like to take you," he said, and took a turn off of the highway. He invariably picks places I enjoy, so I was anticipating a delicious lunch, and so it turned out to be. You can enlarge the menu to the left to look at the prices by clicking on it - if you can read Thai.

After a few more turns he parked on a tree-lined road across from the entrance to Baan Chom Duen resort's restaurant.  Constructed of heavy wood planks and posts it had a rugged look, but was largely an open-air place, with some indoor seating.  The wood piers out over the water provided a lot of riverside seating with picturesque views of the Mae Khlong river. The top picture today was taken from my seat at the riverside railing of our table, beneath an umbrella, with a refreshing, fresh breeze coming over the water. 

The water monitor (veranus salvator) lizard swimming around below the railing we were sitting next to didn't do much for my friend. "I really don't like those," he shuddered, bewildered that I was so entertained by it. "I think they're disgusting."  "It's not like I'm going to invite it up to eat with us," I replied, taking a few pictures of it as it moved around, oblivious to us. "Disgusting," he said again.

You're likely to see these creatures if you go wandering through Lumphini Park in Bangkok, and some of them there are much bigger than this one. I'd guess ours here was a little over a meter long - say, four foot - but they can grow to over three meters (10 feet) long and weigh as much as 25Kg, or 50+ pounds.  Ours swam under the flooring below our table, and my friend was uneasy until it swam back out from under and headed up-river.

The boats you can see in the picture above the lizard are for hire; sometimes just for a dinner cruise, but more often for an early evening sail up the river to see what can be thousands of fireflies in the greenery onshore. The area is known for them, and they're such a refreshing change from the glaring neon of Bangkok.  There's another view of the boats below.

Lunch was amazing.  If I'm careful not to sear my somewhat sensitive tongue with peppers or fiery sauces I'm almost always impressed by the wide variety of tastes, aromas and blends of flavors that are true Thai cooking.  We had a whole sea bass (below) that was 10 inches (25cm) long, served with fresh, crisp garnish and a small dish of old style sauce ( papaya, chili, lime, etc.) that really wasn't needed - the flavor of the fish was rich enough itself.  Naturally, we also had rice and a noodle dish that was a little too hot for my liking, but I make sure my friends have something they want, too - that's only fair.  If I don't insist it's often just what they think I want, and then I miss out on new things. Rarely a good idea.

A colorful and tasty dish... but spicy!

Finishing lunch we got back into the car and headed the short distance to our destination for the next few days: the Ban Kung Maenam Home Stay, also right along and over the Mae Khlong river.  That story next time.


chaleejr said...

Hi Khunbaobao
I have been following your blog for severals months now as i love Thailand very much. I enjoy a lot reading your comments and descriptions. Since 1990 I have visited Thailand in ten occations traveling around the countryside in train, airpplane, bus, and yet your comments are also a learning experience. You are also very lucky to have such friends over there. I hope to continue visiting and enjoying your blog. Thanks very much

khunbaobao said...

Thank you for your comment. If you ever feel like emailing and sharing about your travels and any place you think I might like to visit, please send me an email, OK? My address is in the column to the right. Safe travels to you!