Without grace, I watched the sun gracefully lower itself down the horizon. I was half-running from places to places, looking for a good spot to plant my tripod and trip my camera’s shutter, waiting for that 30-second interval before rushing to the next one with a good foreground to frame the pastels of the sky. I’m not usually like this on media trips where sunsets occur on restaurants or tour vans heading back to the hotel, or worse, presscons. There were no such distractions here at Sampran Riverside resort, just me, my camera and the setting sun.
|SAMPRAN RIVERSIDE’S SNAZZY LOBBY|
Some hours earlier, after doing the circus that is the Samphran Elephant Ground & Zoo, we sat ourselves down at the lobby of the hotel while waiting for our room keys. I asked our guide, Tippie, what we were doing next. Her reply left my jaw open. Nothing, she said.
|A PIANO LOUNGE EXTENDS THE LOBBY|
Nothing?! But that is freakin’ impossible! It was only three in the afternoon, the sun is still way above the horizon and we were on a media familiarization tour. I cannot fathom her one-word reply. It was too unbelievable. We cannot be doing nothing. This is a famtour. A famtour!
|MY ROOM FOR THE NIGHT, SUPERIOR RIVER VIEW [CHECK RATES]|
|AND THE VIEW IS INDEED SUPERIOR|
I cannot believe our luck.
And we were about to spend this nothing she was talking about inside a four-star hotel right on Thailand’s sprawling 70-acre Rose Garden, which in turn is located just right beside the languid Ta Chin River. Unbelievable. She must be joking.
|SPENDING THE AFTERNOON AT THE OZONE-TREATED POOL|
But there it was, after a few minutes, we were stripped down to our boxers and relaxing across the swimming pool, doing laps, checking our Facebook and Instagram accounts and following our guide’s advice.
How I wish all famtrips were like this.
|THAI MASSAGE AT THE ARUSAYA SPA WITH THE LAKE AT THE BACK|
Our pool time was interrupted only by an invite to visit the hotel’s spa for, what else, Thai massage. Dressed in silly clothes, I climbed aboard the soft bed and on my back, the masseuse kneaded my muscles right to the bone. Feeling like a dough ready for baking, I begged, gentler please.
|SUNSET WITH LONG TAIL BOATS AT THE TA CHIN RIVER|
I rushed out of the spa right after, cameras and tripod swinging wildly, heading for the river. I miss the adrenaline of photographing the sunset on tripod and I was only too glad to impose this seemingly tedious way of shooting the golden hour upon myself. I got a total of two good photos, but what the heck. I used to live for this stuff.
|MY FAVORITE TOD MUN PLA OR THAI FISH CAKES|
|ONE OF THE BEST FRIED RICE I’VE TRIED IN THAILAND|
Back at the hotel, our nothing continued on. We trotted to Sampran Riverside’s Rimnan restaurant and were soon overwhelmed with Thai dishes of our own choosing. Free will, reigned supreme. Seafood fried rice. Pad thai. Garlicky flat noodles. And my favorite, tod mun pla, Thai fish cakes.
|SUNRISE AT THE BANKS OF TA CHIN RIVER WITH THE INN CHAN RESTAURANT ON MIDGROUND|
The next morning found me at the river once more, desperately capturing the morning glow from the wrong side of the compass. But I was persistent, laboring over my exposure as mosquitoes feasted on both my arms and legs.
|MORNINGS ALONG THE LAKE|
|RENTABLE PEDAL BOATS|
Without much luck, I sauntered over to the lake area, passing joggers and cyclist along their morning routine who looked at me as if I were crazy with my tripod and camera slung in full height off my shoulder. I whistled by. Well, I too am on my morning routine. I whistled some more as I looked for my spot.
|BECAUSE BACONS AND EGGS RULE|
Finally giving in to pangs of hunger, I proceeded to the restaurant where crisply fried bacons, steamed white rice, soup and omelets waited for me. I sat on a wooden table by the river and did not disappoint them with my appetite. I gave them my all.
|OUR RIDE ACROSS THE RIVER|
By midmorning, we were finally doing something. We boarded a rickety boat and crossed the Ta Chin River. A portion of Sampran Riverside Hotel’s food stocks apparently come from their very own organic farm (the rest, from the neighboring farms whom they convinced that organic is the way to go), and we were about to see it firsthand.
|DON’T EVER WANT TO MISS THIS|
What I really wanted was to simply sit on my room’s balcony and contemplate the art of doing nothing some more but I don’t want to miss crossing the river. I’ve had a few mishaps in boarding narrow boats in the past, but I still love water, I just don’t wanna get dunked in with my cameras and gadgets is all.
|FARMERS AT THE SAMPRAN ORGANIC FARM|
Sampran Riverside’s farm, looks just like our farm back in the Philippines; lots of trees, mosquitoes, bees, rice fields, fruits, compost pits, trellised produce and super tall coconuts. The only difference was that they gave us scaldingly hot tea right after and chopped guavas with a supremely addictive dip. I had to willfully distance myself from the plate for fear of finishing everything off and shamefully licking the dip to its last.
|LIVING THE THAI CULTURE ART & CRAFT WORKSHOPS|
It seemed our hotel has everything inside itself. After jumping off the boat back to the hotel grounds, we proceeded to Sampran Riverside’s Living the Thai Culture Art & Craft Workshops area. Or Thai Village for short.
|WEAVING A COLORFUL TRAPESTRY, ONE OF THE CULTURAL ACTIVITIES AT THE THAI VILLAGE|
By turns, we witnessed and even participated on a few traditional Thai handicrafts and cultural practices. From silk processing, paper umbrella painting, weaving, pottery, cooking, bamboo dancing (which was very similar to our tinikling) up to muay thai or kickboxing. I’d go for kickboxing but it was too taxing, I’m sticking to our guide’s advice, which was to do nothing, lol.
|GAI OB BAI TOEY OR THAI PANDAN-WRAPPED CHICKEN|
And to cap that off, we spent our last hour at the Sampran Riverside eating another round of Thai food at their Inn Chan riverside restaurant. Chicken wrapped in pandan leaves, papaya salad, fresh spring rolls, pomelo salad, coconut ice cream. Bring it on. I can definitely get used to this kind of familiarization trip.
Sampran Riverside Resort
Address: Km. 32, Phetkasem Road, Tha Kham,
Samphran, Nakhon Pathom, Thailand
Contact Number: +66 34 322-544
Facebook: Click Here
Online Booking & Rates: Click Here
GPS Coordinates Map: 13.734500, 100.240415
THIS TRIP WAS MADE POSSIBLE THROUGH THE EFFORTS OF THE TOURISM AUTHORITY OF THAILAND & SAMPRAN RIVERSIDE