11 August 2014

  • Technical data:
    • We launched our kayaks on the third day from the the Suntara Wellness Resort in Chachoengsao and ended the day at the Viva Villa Bang Pakong in Tha Sa An. 
    • The weather was partly sunny and cloudy. Maximum temperature was around 29 C (Humidex: 31 C) with a SW wind of 8 Km/Hr. Humidity was 62 % (Source: VTBS).
    • Technical data of the trip was as follows: Total Distance: 38.78 Km; Moving Average: 7.2 Km/Hr; Overall Average: 6.6 Km/Hr; Maximum Speed: 10 Km/Hr; Moving time: 5 Hr 24 Min; Stopped Time: 28 Min; Total Time: 5 Hr 52 Min.
  • Number of participants: 2 (Sean & Pat)

It was 06h00 and the moon was still above the Bang Pakong River as Patrick took a picture thus justifying the extra Baht 500 it had cost when Sean had booked the rooms with a river view. As he watched, the light of the sun slowly filtered in and the moon disappeared from view as the rays reflected off the Bang Pakong River flowing silently below our temporary residence. Morning had broken and by the looks of it it was going to be a hot day! We met downstairs for breakfast at 06h30 where after we took our gear down to the river, unlocked the kayaks and moved them onto the landing, where we readied them.  At 07h45 we left the Suntara Wellness resort behind us and plunged into the 180 meters wide river. There was no wind, calm water and an outgoing tide; all good conditions were fulfilled. As we moved forward our kayaks made ripples in the mirror of the stream. 

We paddled by Wat Prasat Sopon, Wat Phanitaram and Wat In Ratsatthatham. At each turn taking the wind from the west, our kayaks wobbled heavily on the waves. Water spat into the cockpits and finally we had to hold close to the Nipa palm covered river banks, this gave an added bonus of protecting us from the hot morning sun. We were making good speed, again with the aid of the tide as we got closer to the sea. We had not planned it but the falling tide would co-inside with the hours we were paddling giving us much needed assistance. In the evenings at the resorts we has observed how the tide had turned with the river running strongly upstream and were indeed glad that we did not have to paddle against it!

We passed under the first bridge at Wat Sanam Chan and in the distance saw the hills in the vicinity of Chon Buri, a familiar sight when driving down the highway on the eastern seaboard; we were definitely getting closer to the coast! Around the next bend just after passing Wat Ban Phom we encountered a long section of river that widened to what we estimated was 400m, the wind against current made it a bit rough so we hugged the right hand bank. At about 10h00 we took a break in a small mangrove canal, out of the current and wind and after 10 minutes we again joined the main river and continued towards Wat Saen Phu Dat. On this section we crossed the river to the inside left bank and suddenly we heard sharp screams in the air, looking up at the trees along the bank we saw that they were filled with hundreds of flying foxes, hanging on the branches. From time to time a giant fruit bat lost his grip and spread its wings for a short fly-out to return on its old position; a fascinating spectacle.

We continued our trip and a large building appeared on the right bank, we soon saw a number of flags fluttering on the river bank and identified it as the Kasikorn Bank Learning Center; banks indeed seems to have a lot of money. Shortly after eleven we beached for a break, but it was not for long as we could find no cover and the sun was scorching our heads. We headed around the corner and passed the Bang Pakong Riverside Country Club and then hit the final straight of water for the day. As we padded along the riverbank we came across numerous fishermen constructing fish traps on the water’s edge during the low tide. At around noon the large bridge of the Bangkok - Chonburi motorway came in sight, by now the wind was blowing heavily from the west-southwest sweeping up the waters of the river as one giant roller coaster, so we had to keep to the river bank. With the bridge in sight our arrival point was now near and we started to look out for a place to land, we could not make out the location of our resort so finally decided to get out at the landing of Wat Tha Sa An. However with the low tide we found ourselves a distance away from the concrete steps of the landing and had to negotiate some stinking mud on the bank to get our kayaks out. We finally succeeded thanks to some stepping stones and managed to land the kayaks and get them up the steps without getting muddied. We then ported the kayaks about 100m to the road where Patrick went scouting at the temple to seek a place to store the kayaks. The monks of Wat Tha Sa An were very willing and offered a locked room on their premises under the watchful eyes of a Buddha image to store our kayaks. After bidding farewell we gathered our gear and walked the 200m or so down the road to our accommodation for the night, the Viva Villa Bang Pakong. 

Upon arrival we were kindly received by Khun Wee, the owner and were offered a cool welcome drink. We were shown our rooms and after a quick shower and change of clothes we hurried down to the market place of Tha Sa An where we found a floating seafood restaurant on the river. After taking our lunch we returned to the resort for a nap and a cool swim in the pool. In the evening we visited the open air market at the Thesaban pier. The sound of outdoor gymnastics vibrated through the air, while closer to the river the Bangkok Bar spat out its music. We took a drink and snack seated at a table along the river, however as our bellies were still craving for solid food, on the way home we visited a small Chinese shop for a traditional platter. At about 20h00 we returned to our accommodation sat by the river admiring the supermoon for a while then retired to our rooms to rest in preparation for the final leg of the journey the next day.

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