Saturday, August 4, 2007

Ayutthaya's old canal waterside markets

Fifty years ago when this `khlong' was a major route for travel and transport between Suphan Buri and Ayutthaya, Lat Chado was a thriving community. The large wooden structures of the waterside market is a testament to Lat Chado's prosperous past.

Last week we visited Talat Kao Hong, an old market by Suphan Buri River. East of Kao Hong, there's a khlong (canal) that connects Suphan Buri River to Noi River. And on this khlong, which is more convenient to reach from Phak Hai district of Ayutthaya than from Suphan Buri, lies another old market known as Talat Lat Chado.Like Kao Hong, the canalside market at Lat Chado went into decline some 20 years ago when roadways replaced the khlongs as transportation routes. Watergates which make boat travel from the canal to the rivers at both ends impossible together with new land-based markets also helped in sealing the fate of this half-century-old local commercial hub.

The trade is dead but the community is still pretty much alive and the original wooden shophouses are largely kept in good shape. As a matter of fact, the market of Lat Chado was included in the Association of Siamese Architects' list of best preserved buildings last year.

However, unlike Kao Hong, the residents here have no serious plan yet to promote their community as a tourist destination.

No less interesting than the market area itself are the community school, which is a nicely-built wooden architecture, and the local temple which dates back to the Ayutthaya Period.

Too bad I didn't take any photos of those two places. You'll have to go see them for yourself.

Although the canal no longer serves transportation purposes, it is still a plentiful source of fish and naturally grown vegetables for the Lat Chado people.

Some of the original shops are still open. One of them, the one with the red postal box in front, was home of the late singer Theerasak Atjimanon. His mother still lives there.

This bamboo grove by the canal houses a large number of baya weavers. This photo, taken from a boat, shows just a few of their nests!

Wooden walkways in the community have been replaced by more durable concrete ones.

Boat vendors are a part of life here. For now their main customers are the locals, not tourists.

Even without buoys, the pier at Lat Chado market can be adjusted in accordance with the water level. The wooden pillars have holes at different heights into which iron rods can be inserted to hold the platform in place.

Houses by the 'khlong' are built on pillars to make them safe from floods. During the dry season, the 'tai thun' area under the house can be used for a variety of activities.

Visitors to Lat Chado should also drop by at this century-old 'Ban Khieo' (Green House) not far away, It belonged to Khun Phitak Borihan who ran the now-defunct boat service along Noi River connecting Pak Nam Pho in Nakhon Sawan with Phak Hai of Ayutthaya and tha Tian in Bangkok. Some people believe this house is haunted.

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