Today, I am going to take you 50 years or even farther back in time to see how Thais live back when traffic is nonexistent and tranquillity of life is key— the community where neighbours mean more than just people living next door and the doors are rarely locked. Every morning, you can expect the elderly to wake up way before dawn preparing food for the monks who will come by at the first appearance of light. Religion is not only a word to fill out, but also the way of living. Once the sun comes up, you can expect most people in the community to meet up at the open-air market close by for breakfast and conversation. At the same market, fresh ingredients are sold for those who want to cook at lunch & dinner. People here have since known each other for generations, and they look out for any problems to keep themselves safe. Most houses in the community have something to sale, so they set up shop right in front of their house. Genuine smiles are everywhere, and kindness is the main currency in the community. While Thailand has long adjusted to the western lifestyle, this old town remains almost untouched from the outside world. This town is called “Chantabun Riverside Community” located in Chantaburi province.
I fortunately grew up in the similar environment. The street that I once lived still has those same neighbours since I was born; I haven’t lived in Thailand for almost 16 years, but every time I went back to visit, they were happy to see me. Needless to say, not everyone is as lucky as I am. Most communities have changed. Bangkok has changed. Well, to be exact, Thailand has changed. Though every time I go back ‘home,’ I am eager to find the kind of peaceful state of living worth visiting to share with all of you. Luckily, I found one this time.
I first heard about ‘Chantabun Riverside Community’ from a friend who works at Lonely Planet Thailand. She praises about this area, and she suggests that I explore and write about it on my blog. I went there and as if I was on a time machine going back in time; I immediately fall in love with the serenity and the look of this well-preserved old town. The community has been procured with almost a perfect condition: food, building, and all around antiquity. When you plan to visit, may I suggest you stay at ‘Baan Luang Rajamaitri Historic Inn.’ As stated on the website, this Historic Inn is ‘The Museum that you can stay over’ with all the amenities you will get from 5-star hotel. There are stories for every nook and cranny of this ‘house;’ I urge you to read up its fantastic website before you visit. Though I must say I’m most impressed with every single staff there; how genuinely kind, attentive, and knowledgeable they are to every guest. I stayed at other 5-star hotel before— though not often, but by far, staff at Baan Luang Rajamaitri Historic Inn are the best I have ever experienced.
With the joy of staying at the hotel, street food from many fresh-food markets and the preserved tranquil community you can easily lose yourselves into, you might wonder what else should you do while visiting Chantaburi. Here & here are the links you should search for places that might interest you. There are many temples around, waterfalls, the largest Catholic cathedral in Thailand, Kung Krabaen Bay Royal Development Study Center, and my favourite, Yao Laem Sing Bridge— to view fisherman village lifestyle.
Here is the largest Catholic cathedral in Thailand which, by the way, is within walking distance from the hotel.
Here is Yao Laem Sing Bridge area.
Here is the fresh food market in the area and all the food you should try.
When was the last time you bought seafood this fresh from the market?
Fried dough with signature ‘Num Jim’ only sold in Chantaburi. Breakfast, anyone?
The famous cake you MUST try when you visit.
This is how Thais wrap their dessert, in banana leaves.
Imagine you walk along the river since dawn.
Imagine reading your favourite book while sipping Thai coffee all day long.
Imagine you try all those real Thai food at the market.
Imagine you strike up a conversation with your neighbours who happen to sell you homemade food.
Imagine you can live a life we, Thais, once lived.
Sincerity and big smiles go a long way here.
How fantastic that would be to experience all those in one visit.
I surely hope you put Chantaburi in your radar next time you visit Thailand.
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