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Tha Chalom, Samut Sakhon

sunny 34 °C

Samut Sakhon province is a central province in Thailand and its location on the estuaries between Chao Phraya river and Gulf of Thailand making it a strategic location being one of the closest fishing port to Bangkok. One of the biggest industry in Samut Sakhon is the seafood trade where it produced some of the fresh & quality seafood products and also being one of the important mass salt production. Other than seafood & salt products, it also has massive number of land turned into aquaculture farming producing some of biggest market of shrimps & fish for export from Thailand to other countries. Mahachai Market is one of the biggest fresh seafood market in Samut Sakhon province & a town well connected from Bangkok through the railway. Mahachai train station is also the connection station to the famous railway market at Maekhlong, which I have been to & experience the market before. While I have also previously visited the other version of Mahachai market known as Mahachai New Market in Rama 2 in the suburb of Bangkok. Over at this bigger version & being the original Mahachai Fresh Market, I was overwhelmed by the number of seafood products available here either fresh from the sea to those which have been dried, preserved or packed into packages. Almost complete seafood range including snacks were available for visitors to the Mahachai Market to choose from. From Mahachai, I was told there was another town across the Tha Chin (Chinese pier) river, well known for the few Thai temples & the famous Jao Mae Guan Im temple (Goddess of Guan Im). so I thought why not spend some time to discover the town since I was already close to it.

MAHACHAI TOWN & THE TRAIN STATION

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From Mahachai pier, the ferry crossing to the Tha Chalom pier cost THB 3 which other than human passengers, it also allows for those with motorbikes to be on board. Most of the passengers travelled to Mahachai from Tha Chalom to do errands and obtain their daily necessities as Mahachai is a bigger town with wide selections of daily needs that suits the demands from smaller community over at Tha Chalom. Tha Chalom is also the connecting train station town of where train passengers disembark at Mahachai station, hop into the ferry to cross to Tha Chalom to board the connecting train from either at Ban Laem train station or Tha Chalom station to reach the final destination at Maekhlong train station for those who intend to visit the Maekhlong Railway Market. Ban Laem train station was located near to the Thai temple with the huge Golden Buddha structure while Tha Chalom station was an open air station sandwiched between Wat Chong Lom & Jao Mae Guan Im temple.

MAHACHAI & THA CHALOM PIER

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Disembarking the ferry from Mahachai pier, there was a covered walkways with both sides of it lined with shops, mostly shut as it was not a weekend during my recent visit. Not sure if these shops were fully operational on weekends but noticed very few were open for business on this week day of which these were shops dealing with sale of canned mackerel fish in cartons with very inexpensive price. Samut Sakhon province is a central province in Thailand located very close to the sea while seafood is one of the main production of this province. So, it can be well understand on why there was such a good bargain of mackerel products on sale. There maybe well some local factory producing this nutritional canned fish.One of the owner was heard said that the canned fish was even meant for export to as far as Italy. As I walked out from the pier, I noticed a wall paintings of a trishaw with a driver on a section along the walkways. As soon as I was out from the covered area, there were lines of trishaw riders waiting to take customers to their intended destinations. The trishaw riders were mostly of elderly men, plying their trade to earn some very meagre income to supplement their daily needs. One of the trishaw rider shout out if I would like to go for a round tour ride to discover Tha Chalom town. As my reason to be at Tha Chalom was to explore this unknown town,I thought renting a trishaw to explore the town would be a good idea. The rate for 1 trishaw which basically could sit 2 person by Asian size costs THB 100 where the tour will take passengers to tour Tha Chalom to experience some of the old structures including the old Tha Chalom fresh market, Tha Chalom old school, few Chinese temples, distinctive green mansion owned by a rich family in Tha Chalom,Thai wats, Goddess of Guan Yin temple & Ban Laem train station.

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The first sight was a small size Chinese temple said to be as old as over 100 years. During the Lunar New Year in January or February, the temple was said to be bustling with locals who thronged the temple to offer prayers. There were also activities arranged in conjunction with the festivity and the surroundings of the temples exterior were decorated with massive red lanterns, which brightened the town during night time. As the trishaw tour continued, "Loong" (a respected way to address elderly man) pointed to a dilapidated 2 storey structure with overgrown bushes that almost covered the building and its surroundings. According to Loong, the 2 storey structure which resembled an old English style bungalow home was formerly a Tha Chalom school back in the old days. Today,children no longer attending to this school as other bigger school complete with modern facilities were being built in town to cater to the needs of Tha Chalom school children. But, it would be good,if the local government could preserved the building,upkeep and improved the structure and turned into a museum for people to view would be a good idea since it has historic value to it. The building itself looked beautiful since it has a nostalgic feel to it and it will be worthwhile to maintained it as opposed to demolished it. Next to the abandoned school, there was yet another historic site, which was Tha Chalom old fresh market as explained by Loong.Today, the one storey semi-wooden structure has been turned into a warehouse.

THA CHALOM CHINESE TEMPLE, ABANDONED SCHOOL, OLD MARKET TURNED WAREHOUSE, THA CHALOM TOWN & SURROUNDINGS

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As the tour continued, we arrived at a very distinctive palatial mansion which according to Loong was owned by a rich family of Tha Chalom whom the man and his wife had since passed away. The mansion was rather distinguished from other surrounding buildings due to its green paints. However,since it was a private property, only the buildings fronting the main road could be seen while the other parts of the mansion insidewhich was locked from outside cannot been viewed fully. Just opposite the mansion,there was a special walkways to the private pier for the family to board the boat to cross over to Mahachai town.

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As we moved on, we encountered yet another Chinese temple.While the first stop was a rather small but compact yet beautiful & charming Chinese temple, this second one looked much more grand with its beautiful multi-tiered roof with dragon sculpture decorative. Just as compact and charming as the first Chinese temple, the presence of these temples were a testament that the Thai Chinese community plays a major role in charting the development,prosperity & the well being of the Tha Chalom community as a whole. There were also massive red lanterns seen decorating the ceilings of the temples while the main doors of the temple has 2 temple guardians being carved on them. A very creative act seen was a dragon effigy built from joss paper used commonly to offer prayers by burning them. Loong then headed towards another most important landmark in Tha Chalom. We arrived at the Wat Chong Lom which is the pillar of strength of Tha Chalom and the pride of the community here as can be seen from the overall structure of Wat Chong Lom. The temple is magnificent,splendid & beautiful both inside & outside of it. Standing proudly downtown of Tha Chalom, the temple was located just across from Jao Mae Guan Im Temple & Tha Chalom train station.

ANOTHER CHINESE TEMPLE & WAT CHONG LOM

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Jao Mae Guan Im temple has a unique standing Goddess of Guan Yin statue. Below the statue was a covered structure which a cave like atmosphere was built inside with some few other Goddess of Guan Yin seen decorating the surroundings of the inner structure. The main entrance of the structure meanwhile has an altar with Golden Guan Yin figure greeting visitors.Just outside the Guan Yin temple,was the Tha Chalom train station which has no proper structure of a train station. From the Tha Chalom train station, we then head on to Ban Laem, of which the train station to board the train to Maekhlong train market was located. For those who head to Maekhlong train market in particular curious tourists who want to experience a complete train transportation from Bangkok to Maekhlong, you will surely landed at Ban Laem to board a connecting train from Mahachai town. Ban Laem train station is a very small & old station but yet it was very well maintained, clean and provide passengers a nostalgic feel to it due to its still traditional structure and the station environment which was quiet located within the edge of the Tha Chalom town. Nearby the station, there was a huge golden Buddha structure accessible from the base with the staircase built to reach the Buddha structure. From Tha Chin, this structure can be sighted from Mahachai town. Towards the end of Tha Chalom tour, we passed by a big surprise, something that I believe I have yet to see it before, the wooden Thai temple. The temple was not open on the inside but I managed to get a glimpse of the external structure of the temple. It was a great wooden temple that I have never seen before and I admire it so much that I thought I will never get bored to look at it over & over again. Great architecture work and a wonderful masterpiece.

JAO MAE GUAN IM TEMPLE

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THA CHALOM & BAN LAEM TRAIN STATION

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THA CHALOM WOODEN TEMPLE

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Posted by kidd27 07:12 Archived in Thailand

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