When I was traveling abroad, I loved to take the tours by various types of transportation, including bus, rented car, train, boat, etc.  The journey by different modes of transportation gives me different views from different angles.  My recent trip on board the Mekhala to Ayutthaya gave me totally amazing journey.

The trip to Ayuthaya sounds uninteresting for Thai people, especially those living in Bangkok. It is so close to Bangkok that people either think they can do the trip any time or they have seen it all. However, this ‘not too hurry’ boat trip granted lots of time for me to admire the scenery on both sides of the river while the barge winds its way upstream from bustling Bangkok to the historical town of Ayutthaya.

Scenery from the river

Scenery from the river

The upstream boat journey of 72 km starts from Bangkok, passing Nonthaburi and Pathumthani provinces, to Bang Pa In Summer Palace. It gives you a chance to relax and take in sceneries along the river.  The scenes of life along the river change slowly while the barge cruises up the river.  One of historical buildings you will see is a Catholic church Santa Cruz.  The church was built in the 17th century during the reign of King Taksin for the Portuguese residents who remained in Thailand after the fall of Ayutthaya.  The church area is also known for delicious cake known as ‘Khanom Farang Kudi Chin’.

Santa Cruiz Church, the old Portuguese resident in Bangkok

Santa Cruiz Church, the old Portuguese resident in Bangkok

Along the way, several modern buildings set loftily on the riverside blending with local wooden houses and creating the unique scene of the city (the scene that you will not see from other means of transportations.)

local house and modern building

The cruise also passed areas where ethnic Mon communities have called home. The Mon migrated from Burma to the Thai kingdom in the 18th century when Bangkok was founded as a capital. The most well known Mon village is Koh Kred in Nonthaburi province.  This small islet in the middle of Chao Praya River was formed as a result of an effort, during the Ayuthaya period (1722 AD), to short cut the Chao Phraya river stream.  The village is famous for earthen ware making.  The community museum at Wat Poramaiyikawas is also worth a visit to witness the rich culture of the Mon people in this area.  Pottery market and Thai sweets fair take place every weekend here on this island.

Koh Kred, Earthenware making village, Mon community of Nonthaburi

Koh Kred, Earthenware making village, Mon community of Nonthaburi

Further away from Koh Kred, you will reach another province that will celebrate 200th anniversary in 2015; it is Pathumthani. The province, formerly known as “Sam Kok”, got its current name from King Rama II in 1715. The province was the main settlement of migrated Mon people in Thailand. The first group of Mon people took refuge in this area during the late Ayuthaya Period about 300 years ago. Even though they have assimilated into Thai culture, they maintain Mon traditions such as religious ceremonies and architecture. Some of them still speak Mon language.  You can identify a Mon village by looking at the temple whose main stupa is built in the same style as those in Myanmar. Another characteristic of Mon temple is the “Hansa” Pole, which is erected around the stupa. It has a swan-like mythical figure on top of it.

Mon Temple in Pathumthani

Mon Temple in Pathumthani

This boat journey not only gave me a chance to visit Ayuthaya, it also reminded me of the long history of the country and the people.

Life along river