THAILAND | Walking Along the Old Town Chanthaboon Waterfront Community | Lakad Pilipinas

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand

I watched from the roof balcony of Baan Luang Rajamaitri Historic Inn as rain softly pelted the murky waters of Chanthaburi River below. I was planning on a quick nap before exploring the narrow streets of this riverside town but sleep has abandoned me after having a quick glimpse of the area. It excited me. In my mind’s eye, I was seeing a quainter version of Georgetown or perhaps Melaka’s Jonker Walk in Malaysia, sans the throngs of tourists and shops.

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand
TYPICAL ARCHITECTURE AT CHANTHABOON’S OLD TOWN

Dusk was almost upon Chanthaboon, a century-old riverside town in the district of Chanthaburi, when I finally decided to go out. It was still slightly drizzling but I wanted to see it before evening fully descends. I leisurely walked from our hotel, tracing the kilometer-long, twelve-foot wide Sukhaphiban Road, dodging incoming motorbikes and cars that take up almost the whole width of the street.

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand
THE OLD-WORLD PATINA OF CHANTHABOON

I was fascinated. Chanthaburi may be the only place in Thailand that has been colonized by the French, and indeed it shows on its architecture. Houses with wood-shuttered windows, its walls peeling with paint, line the narrow street. A few has been converted into hotels, some into restaurants, but still, it held its charm.

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand
A CHINESE SHRINE

I turned a bend and found a Chinese shrine, the CHAO MAE KUAN IM SHRINE [GPS MAP 12.612660, 102.113296], sitting above a set of concrete stairs. I followed the river and crossed the bridge, another Chinese temple, the WAT CHAN THANARAM [GPS MAP 12.613275, 102.115779]. Chinese immigrants have been in this part of Thailand for centuries now.

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand
CHECKING OUT, WAT BOT MUANG, A BUDDHIST TEMPLE IN CHANTHABOON

I moved farther and saw another one, a Buddhist temple this time, WAT BOT MUANG [GPS MAP 12.613922, 102.112995], complete with a golden pagoda set in the middle of two ornate structures. A remnant of the country’s Ayutthaya Period. A group of snarling dogs greeted me as I entered its gate, which were quickly told off by a saffron-robed monk. I smiled at him, he smiled back, I am loving Chanthaboon with each step I took.

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand
VEGETARIAN FESTIVAL AT WAT KHETNA BOONYARAM IN CHANTHABOON

Looping back, I spied an alley filled by locals on foot to another temple—WAT KHETNA BOONYARAM [GPS MAP 12.610197, 102.113816]—its  gracious curving roof warmly lit against the electric blues of the early evening. On its grounds, locals garbed in white shirts and pants were praying towards a serene-faced Buddha sitting inside its gilded hall.

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand
I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THESE ARE!

Outside, the whole grounds were surrounded by stalls selling all sorts of street food; noodles, sweets, rice meals and a plethora of colorful skewered stuff, most of which were alien to me. Apparently, the Chinese community in Chanthaboon were celebrating the last day of the VEGETARIAN FESTIVAL, which is held every October. I was lucky enough to have stumbled upon it.

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand
DINNER AT TAMAJUN RESTAURANT

As darkness fully enveloped the town, I met my TBEX Asia companions at one of the riverside restaurants, TAMAJUN [248 SUKHAPIBAN RD., WAT MAI, CHANTHABURI DISTRICT, CHANTHABURI | 039-311-977 | TAMAJUNHOTEL@GMAIL.COM | GPS MAP 12.612239, 102.113856]. The place, dimly lit by stylized lights revealed an ornately and tastefully decorated interior. We seated ourselves on its riverside balcony and watched as plate after plate of Thai dishes crowded our long table.

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand Food
MY FAVORITE, FISH CAKE!

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand Food
CRISPY FRIED PORK KNUCKLES

With glasses of Singha beer and big bowls of Chanthaburi’s signature fried rice, we feasted on crisply fried chicken, soft fish cakes, beef, chamuang pork curry, and surprisingly, crackling crispy pork knuckles—something every Filipinos are more familiar with as crispy pata. I noticed that most of the dishes are fried but that’s not a bad thing; everyone agreed it was one of the best meals we’ve had so far, and I totally agree.

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand Loi Krathong
VEGETARIAN FESTIVAL CULMINATION AT CHANTHABURI RIVER

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand Vegetarian Festival
PARADE ALONG THE OLD TOWN OF CHANTHABOON

From where I was sitting, I saw lights glimmering at an area beyond the bridge. I asked our guide from the Tourism Authority of Thailand and was told that the local Chinese community are setting loi krathongs right by the river as part of their festival’s culmination.

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand Vegetarian Festival
OFFERING PRAYERS BEFORE FLOATING A KRATHONG

Wasting no time, we set forth towards the Wat Chan Thanaram temple and watched as the faithful near the river’s edge carefully held krathongs—decorated baskets set with flowers and candles—over their heads, said their solemn prayers and set down the lighted candles floating down the river with their dreams, aspirations and wishes. It was my first time to witness such practice amongst the Thai people and it felt both very solemn and magical.

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand Food
RICE PORRIDGE BREAKFAST AT BAAN LUANG CHAMAITRI

A beautiful day greeted us the next morning. After a quick breakfast of porridge and pathongko or deep-fried dough at the hotel, we immediately set forth on a mini-walking tour of Chanthaboon, the streets were still deserted as we entered CHANTHABOON LEARNING CENTRE [GPS MAP 12.608892, 102.115779], a gallery of sorts housed inside a century-old edifice.

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand Museum
OLD PHOTOGRAPHS AT THE CHANTHABOON LEARNING CENTRE

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand Museum
CHANTHABOON ARCHITECTURAL DRAWINGS

Inside, photographs—both new and old—of the city and its people line the floors and walls of the museum. I relaxed on the overgrown backyard garden as my companions went up the wooden second floor where more photos and architectural sketches were on display.

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand Cathedral
THE LARGEST CATHOLIC CATHEDRAL IN THAILAND

We were soon walking again, our destination, the largest Catholic Church in Thailand. The CATHEDRAL OF IMMACULATE CONCEPCION [GPS MAP 12.609167, 102.118489] in Chanthaburi is built in 1906 by Vietnamese immigrants who crossed over to Thailand 300 years ago due to religious persecution.

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand Cathedral
THE CEILING IS DESIGNED TO REPRESENT AN INVERTED HULL OF A SHIP

The cathedral is Neo-Gothic in style and rises to a lofty height of 20 meters. It’s is so high that its twin spires were temporarily brought down during the  Franco-Thai War in the 1940’s due to its conspicuousness to enemy forces.

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand Cathedral
MADE FROM GEMS AND KILOS OF SILVER

Besides its flawless construction, one of the things that draw people to this structure is the image of the Immaculate Conception that stands on the right side of the church altar. The statue’s veil is made from kilos of silver, gold and more than 20,000 karats of gems, magnifying Chanthaburi’s status as the center of gems and jewelry trade in Thailand

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand Architecture
A CENTURY-OLD HOUSE IN CHANTHABOON

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand Architecture
ALL MADE FROM IRON WOOD

The area surrounding the cathedral is beset by houses made in the ginger bread style quite common during the late 1800’s in Thailand. We were taking pictures of one in particular [GPS MAP 12.609091, 102.117805] with a symmetrical facade when the owner opened its tracery-filled gate to invite us in for a closer look.

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand Architecture
THE WIFE OF THE OWNER, SORTING NEWSPAPERS AND LETTERS BY THE STAIRWELL

The whole structure is made from iron wood and was very well made, in fact, the floors don’t even creak when we walk on it, and we were quite a big group. I can tell the owner is very proud of his 150-year old house, with all its surface wood-stained and polished to perfection.

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand Market
HUNDRED-YEAR OLD MARKET IN CHANTHABOON

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand Market
PORK KNUCKLES, ANYONE?

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand Market
DELECTABLE MORNING TREATS

Before going back, we decided to drop by the HUNDRED YEAR-OLD MARKETPLACE [CHANTHANIMIT 1 COR. CHATHANIMIT 2, WAT MAI, CHANTHABURI | GPS MAP 12.609321, 102.119624] to have tea and coffee. It is pretty small for a marketplace but I was astounded by its age. There were already a lot of locals buying fresh produce when we arrived, but we were more interested with the street food being sold there than anything else. With cups of coffee and Thai tea in hand, we munched on local sweets and delicacies.

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand Noodle Factory
SORTING NOODLES INTO GROUPS FOR PACKING

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand Noodle Factory
TURNING SHEETS INTO ITS FINAL FORM

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand Noodle Factory
NOODLES READY FOR DRYING

Back on the van again with our bags in tow, we bade our fare thee well to the town of Chanthaboon. En route to lunch, we quickly dropped by the SEN CHAN NOODLE FACTORY [2/3 THACHALAB RD., TALAD, CHANTHABURI | 087-723-55-99] and checked out how Thailand’s staple food is made; quite interesting especially since we were able to bring home packs of pad thai packs to cook back home.

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand Noodle Restaurant
LUNCH AT THE STYLISH CHANTHORN RESTAURANT

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand Cooking Class
LET’S COOK PAD THAI

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand Pad Thai
PAD THAI WITH CRISPY CRABLETS FOR TOPPINGS!

CHANTHORN RESTAURANT [1102 / 5-8 ROAD BENJAMARACHUTIT. CHANTHABURI | 039-312-339 | GPS MAP 12.597517, 102.112525] was our last destination before going back to Bangkok. If our previous stop was all about making noodles, this one was all about using that noodles to make, what else, but pad thai! This restaurant is quite famous for this dish and we get to witness firsthand as its owner demonstrated how they make this popular Thai dish. I was surprised when they put in the final toppings; crispy crablets!

And you can probably guess what happened next, another Thai food fest ensued.

 Chanthaboon Chantaburi Thailand Coconut Ice Cream
MY FAVORITE COCONUT ICE CREAM!

As we were having our desserts—my favorite coconut ice cream, no less—I was asked by one of my companions about my impressions of Chanthaburi. I can only burp in contentment. I love the old-world ambience of this town and its mix of Chinese, Vietnamese and French culture. Its relative proximity to another of my favorite city in South East Asia, Siem Reap, makes it another hidden gem that I would love to revisit one day.

 

BIG THANKS TO THE TOURISM AUTHORITY OF THAILAND FOR THE INVITE AT TBEX ASIA 2015

 


´

Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Tuesday, November 3, 2015

0 comments

Post a Comment