Agrotour on Mahasawat Canal
A friend of mine and his wife came to spent a few days in Bangkok and asked me to spent time with them. That was their second visit here and they wanted to see some places off the city. I introduced them to two destinations and first, they choose the train market and to my surprise the agro-tour on Mahasawat canal. This was maybe because I live close (Phutthamonthon 4 road), but knowing this is a nice and interesting place to go, I was agreed. Mahasawat Is located in Salaya in the province of Nakhon Pathom. 156 years ago King Rama IV ordered to dug the canal to connect Khlong Bangkok Noi with the Ta Chin Nakhon Chaisi River, at the time when the canals were the only way to travel. The construction took 3 years from 1860-1862.
Agro Tourism Woman Community
Along the Klong Mahasawat since the year 2000, an agro-tourism woman program was launched to keep alive the traditional dishes, recipes, and way of life. A popular market takes place every weekend. To make some supplement income the canal became a tourist destination but maybe because of the distance from Bangkok, still very few visits the place. For Thai people, is more known as Baan Saladin. The visit is organized by villages, the Lotus farm, Baan Saladin, Baan Fakkhao, Orchid farm, and fruit orchards farm.
15 Minutes Drive
Because of the heat, we decided to be there at 8 am, but the breakfast talk makes it at nine. We did have to wait around 10 minutes at the Wat Suwannaram for the long tail boat, killing time by feeding the thousand catfish. A short but beautiful boat ride takes us to our first stop, the lotus farm. We were welcome by Mrs.Theew 59 years old which is the owner, she said she lives a simple but enjoy what she does for a living. She told us some part of her story. She has inherited the place from her father who rented the land which was a rice field. Then the King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1992, gave the 3,200 hectares which belonged to the Royal family to the poorest farmers in the area, 3.20 hectares each. But there was one condition, the farmers have to produce only agriculture products. Mrs. Theew decided to farm lotus because rice harvest it’s only twice a year, and also keep 1 hectare for her home. She is assisted by 2 other persons to harvest every two days, around 1000 flowers per harvest. At 7 am they immerse in 60cm deep, and hand broke, wearing gloves, the prickly stalks, till 12.00 noon. The flower bloom in the hot season from April to June. After the harvest part of the water pond is drained, and a tractor thrash the old leaves which sink and serve as a fertilizer, the butt grow new leaves, the cycle is 4 to 5 months. Repeated for every part of the pond, this process ensures a regular income, however, a chemical is used to protect the flowers from Thysanoptera. The price is 16 bahts for a bouquet of 100 flowers, most are destined for the wholesale flower market at Pak Khlong Talat in Bangkok. She mentioned in the pond is 6 species of fish, and has to feed them when still young and then use a fishing net when growing enough, and sell to locals people. Mrs.Theew can arrange a boat tour through the pond, 20 baht, also taste her lotus flower tea drink,10 baht (helps to treat insomnia). Free fresh cold water. Lotus is a religious symbol of purity, represents beauty, prosperity and eternal youth but is an ingredient of the Thai cuisine as well.
The teaching center organized by the Mahasawat farm woman’s group where the residents can learn different skills to increase their revenue. A shop of all the products is in the center. We were invited to a demonstration by a lady who shows how to make whole-grain rice crispy crackers, a local specialty. There is a small coffee shop and we had an iced coffee with a plate of crackers.
I learned something interesting about water hyacinth. Despite all the advantage for the environment and source of energy, the plant is a problem here and rivers in the country. The abundance of the plant block the flow of the water, the stagnant water becomes a ground for mosquitoes and multiple bacteria. The community removes it by buying it from residents per kg, they didn’t tell me the price. Then after different treatments, it’s become animal manure and sold as fertilizer to farms. In some provinces it is used to build small pieces of furniture, others after being boiled and dried make baskets, there are even hyacinth sandals.
Baan means house, fakkhao is the Thai name for gac fruit or red melon. That’s the fruit I am always looking for in the Klong Toei market near where I live (weekday) in the city but never find it. We were welcomed by Ms. Khanita who owns the place with a plate of fresh fruit and juice. She said it’s easy to grow, It takes about 5 months to get the fruit, and no season, you can have this fruit all year, but the production is small. The gac (nicknamed the fruit of paradise) is not a really tasty fruit but is good for health. The seed contains lycopene, rich in antioxidants and prevent cancer, increase immunity and reduce the risk of coronary artery disease, is also rich in beta-carotene vitamins, and the last but not the least she said it’s good for eyesight, her parent and family had never worn glasses, so I bought 2 kg. 35 baht/kg. 1 fruit can reach 1 Kg depending on the size, and took some seeds to try to grow it at home…will see. You can buy bottles of juice, fragrant soap, shampoo. Ms. Kanikha also uses it for a sauce in noodle soup called yen ta fo.
Small farm, no one there that day. There are to be more than 1000 types in Thailand. It rained the day before and the paths between rows in some part was muddy, but still easy to walk around. Because of the favorable climate, and water transportation Nakhon Pathom is one of the three major orchids cultivation provinces in Thailand. The orchids are sold to the local market but also for export. Thailand is the number one orchid exporter in the world. If you wish, and someone is there, you can buy as many flowers as you want, 50 baht/flower, or the entire plant. orchids’ flowers and gifts
Fruit Orchards farm, mangoes, the renowned Mahasawat pomelo, bananas, Jackfruits, nice people, delicious fruits tasting. Some locally made recipe such as miang kham bua luang, 150 baht, but the real thing is the 10 to 15 minutes ride on the tractor (ee-tan) in the fruit orchard and rice field, fun. Being close to the Klong I asked one lady about the flood, and she talked about the year 2011 when the countryside was under nearly 2 meters of water, all the trees were dead and had to be replanted and started to bear fruits in 2016.
This place still not really ready for the individual tour and it’s better to go with a tour operator, nevertheless if you decide to go by yourself you better prepare the day before going there, and call before getting there. You can ask for an English-speaking guide but no guarantee. Contact Mr.Manoum 0814959091.
All trip took 3 hours, a little hot but cool in the covered long tail boat. After the tour, we were to have a drink at the Riva floating cafe, a resort along the river Ta Chin, a trendy place close to Nakhon Chaisi city. Back home we stop at Phutthamonthon Buddhist park.
We met friendly people and my friends were all smile, I asked them which trip they enjoyed the most, the answer was – Jo we will be back next year could you plan a trip in a “sleeping” province? why not!
How Much We Spent
350 baht/boat, maximum of 6 persons. No time limit
100 baht/person for refreshment and snacks
E-tan tractor rides 100 baht. You have to do it
Lotus leaf tea and ice coffee 55 bahts each
No lunch, a generous breakfast, fruits, and crackers during the visit were enough for all of us.
To Get There
By Car, Khlong Mahasawat is around 50 km from Bangkok, take the Nakhon Chaisi Motorway to Phuttamonthon 4 road, go to Salaya and turn left into 4006 highways, 5 km turn right to Wat Suwannaram, cross the railway track turn right and keep going till the temple, and park there.
The boat driver will help you, and make the visits with you. But be aware, the landing at piers can be steep, rickety or slippery and you may find it difficult to get in and out of the boat. Don’t let the children on their own.
The boat is covered but make sure you protect yourself with a hat and sunscreen.
Buy one or two bottles of water per person
I hope this will be useful to you in planning your next trip to Bangkok. If you have any questions, I will be more than happy to help you out