17 November 2013

  • Technical data:
    • Total Distance: 34,45 Km; Overall time: 7 Hr 52 Min; Moving time: 5 Hr 51 Min; Stopped time: 2 Hr 1 Min; Overall Speed: 4,4 Km/Hr;  Average Moving Speed: 5,9 Km/Hr; and Max Speed 8,3 Km/Hr.
  • Number of participants: 2 (Pat & Sean)

We got out of bed at 06:00, put on our kayak gear, and went down to the Thai breakfast buffet at the hotel. Khun Narong picked us up at 07:15 and took us to Wat Khok Mo, there we loaded the kayaks on the "song thaeo" and drove down to the south-side of the Pho Kao Ton water regulator, while Luang Phor Phichet was given a sermon in the main vihara of the temple. We launched our kayaks below the dam as the latter was obstructed with water hyacinth.

That morning the weather was considerably better, the clouds had lifted and the air was crisp and clear with a nice cool breeze from the North, perfect paddling weather. We paddled in the direction of Chao Pluk, passing Wat Bua, Wat Nang Nu, Wat Luang Suwannaram and many other riverside temples without any obstruction until we arrived at Wat Ban Dab for a break. Things were progressing well that morning compared to the day before!

Wat Ban Dap is well known from Siam’s famous folk epic of love and war, a long narrative poem about love and death named “The Tale of Khun Chang Khun Phaen” which was translated and edited by Chris Baker and Pasuk Phongpaichit in 2010. It was in this location that Khun Phaen hided his magic sword "Skystorm" in a hollow under a big banyan tree before giving him up in Ayutthaya. He prayed to the deities if there ever was a village established here, it be called "Sword of Drawn Bow", hence the name of the village here called Ban Dab Kong Thanu.

We continued our trip down the Lopburi River and were glad to have a day without obstacles; however, our euphoria would not last long! In Ban Khai Mu of Khlong Noi sub-district, we encountered a large water hyacinth bank blocking the river and there was no way to by-pass it. This was the same location we had encountered the problem before and was a known hyacinth ‘red zone’! Reluctantly we shoved the kayaks onto the river bank somewhere in a back garden, it was around 13:30. We readied them for portage and took them to the main road #3196; Ayutthaya 46 Km, we read on a direction board. Here our struggle started again, we changed tactics and now carried the kayaks one at a time in a ‘leapfrog’ type style, this seemed to work better and we made good progress in the hot afternoon sun as we progressed to the sign on the bend of the road indicating Wat Krajom Thong. We were more or less midway, portaging already about 500 meters, when locals called us into their garden stating that the river was free of water hyacinth in their location. They helped us carrying our kayaks down the steep river bank, where we re-launched; again a very muddy experience. We thanked them for their kindness and we were back on the water around 14:00. We continued again through what before was one of the most beautiful sections of the river, overgrown with overhanging bamboo and other trees, however now the banks we scoured muddy levees, presumably some action of the flood prevention program. We took a short afternoon break under one of the last remaining bamboo trees then pushed on for what we though was the short distance to our destination.

However, shortly after 15:00 we met a second obstruction; a tree had fallen into the river and hyacinth and rubbish had built up for about 50m behind it blocking any progress. In addition, the banks either side were steep and densely overgrown, there was also no sign of any road nearby -we were like rats in a trap. We paddled from one bank to the other looking furiously for a way out, but there was none; finally we decided to go out on the right bank and try to make our way along the river until the next launching opportunity. Every year we say that we should take a large cutting knife with us, something like Khun Phaen's "Skystorm"; but every year we forget to, this year it would cost us dearly! It was a major exercise to get out of the kayak onto the steep muddy bank as it was slippery and offered no purchase, we then had to pull them up the steep bank through clinging vies and branches to an open clearing at the top. We then scouted the area, and after battling all kind of insects and scrub, found a launching place about 100 meters down river.  We made it back to our kayaks and portaged - or rather more pushed them – one at a time over and under falling trees with clouds of mosquitoes as attentive followers. The scrub was dense and risks of a snake bite imminent, so we made the area aware of our presence! It took us 45 minutes to cover the 100 meters with the kayaks, but finally we touched water again. We shook the ants out of our pants and climbed our kayaks for the very last stretch of this second day. About 15 minutes later we arrived at our destination, Wat Chao Pluk, bearing the same name as the area. We took the kayaks out and carried them to the large parking lot in front of the temple where we phoned our transporter, Khun Yom, and pick-up was set at 17:00; Sean used his spare time to read out of some English children book in front of an enthusiastic young public. Around 16:45 Khun Yom and Khun Karong arrived, we loaded the kayaks on the pick-up and were transported to the Tawan Resort for our overnight stay. The second track was complete, much better than the day before.


Detailed tracks on "Route You" for this event: 

Lop Buri - Chao Pluk

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