18 August 2013

  • Technical data: 
    • We started off at the Phonlathep water regulator at the split-off of the Tha Chin River from the Chao Phraya River on 09.15 Hr. We passed Wat Sattharat, Wat Thang Savoey, Wat Mai Sattthatham, Wat Tha Kaeo, Wat Khok Mu, Wat Khlong Jan and Wat Mai Wong Duan until our arrival at the Tha Bot water regulator (SUP 24) at 14.20 Hr. There were two obstructions on the river being floating (low) bridges near Wat Khok Mu and Wat Khlong Jan. The gates of the Phonlathep regulator were nearly entirely closed with a minimal take-in from the Chao Phraya River. There was a slight current estimated less than 0.5 Km/Hr.
    • The weather was hot with a cloudy sky. Max. temperature was 33.5 C with a calm wind from the WSW. Temperature measured on the water 36.6 C.
    • Technical data of the trip was as follows: Total Distance: 28.02 Km; Moving Average: 5.9 Km/Hr; Overall Average: 5.3 Km/Hr; Moving time: 4 Hr 45 Min; Stopped Time: 32 Min; Total Time: 5 Hr 17 Min. We made no lunch stop along this track.
  • Number of participants: 2 (Pat & Sean) 

Track 1

We left Ayutthaya at 0600 Hr. Mr. Pok, our partner in transport, arrived timely. Sean's kayak was quickly stored and fastened in the "song thaew" and then driven to Patrick's home where the 2nd kayak was loaded and from there we made our way to Chai Nat. The sun kept creeping up slowly in a cloudy sky on the eastern horizon; temperatures on the water would be high today. After a hour and a half along the Asian High way and along the small roads to Makham Thao's Phonlathep water regulator we arrived at our launching station at 08.30 Hr, we unloaded the boats, briefed our driver and started to prepare our kayak descent.

It took us 45 minutes to ready the kayaks as we had to bring our boats and material down along a stony slope with lose boulders; a uncomfortable activity for knees and feet, but at 09.15 Hr we touched the water. A bit of water was seeping through the Phonlathep water regulator, creating a slow current of less than 0.5 Km/hr; but better this slow current than current against us. The first track was between the primary water gate near the confluence of the Chao Phraya and Tha Chin Rivers and the Tha Bot water regulator, 30 Km further downstream; we had estimated a time of about 6 hours to complete the trip.

Starting off and passing under the first bridge, we were surprised to see how small the river was at this point, having only seen it at its mouth where it was a lot wider. From the start we encountered fishing farms along the river banks, farming the Phla Thapthim, known by westerners as the Tilapia, as we progressed we would find an abundance of these farms, possibly due to the more placid nature of this river. Here and there the river had the smell of rotting fish, created by the floating swollen fish bellies in the vicinity of the fish cages. We saw farmers feeding the fish in their cages, swooping ladles of food out of huge plastic bags. Sometimes we found such a bag tied up, drifting down the river, the locals are not a bit afraid of pollution. We dare to bet that they don't eat their own raised fish. It is well known that most farmers worldwide have their own little corner where they reproduce for themselves. There must be a reason for this behavior!

Every hour we made a short stop, staying in our boats and taking the time to eat some snacks, replenish water and stretch the sore muscles where we could. After the first hour we made our first one at Wat Thang Savoey and found that we had made good progress, averaging 6 km/h with the flow, this would mean a +/- 5 hour trip and did a lot to lift the spirits. After a 5 minutes break we continued our travel along the meandering river. What came to our attention was the low, flat overgrown river banks in this area; in most areas they were hardly 30 cm above the river level. We wonder what would happen if the water gates of the Phonlathep dam were opened; all these banks would surely overflow. Strangely we found many people building very close to the river and there was no sign of house on stilts as encountered on other rivers. There was also numerous trees, flowers, plants and even water lilies growing right on the water’s edge, which let us presume that the river level along this track must be very steady. The intake from the Chao Phraya must thus be permanently minimal and we think that the riverbed between the two water regulators must have been completely silted over time due to lack of river maintenance, hence the low banks, the same we saw earlier when kayaking the north side of the Chai Nat's Chao Phraya Dam.

A second short stop was made in the vicinity of Wat Tha Kaeo, then we met obstructions. The first one was a floating bridge near Wat Khok Mu. The bridge was resting on floaters and the space between the water and the metal construction was very narrow. Sean went under it (see video) lying flat on his kayak and moving slowly under the obstruction. There was hardly a centimeter space left. Patrick, a bit heavier, guessed he would not succeed doing this trick and feared to get stuck under the bridge. He saw a larger space on the left side of the bridge, were a ramp connected the bridge with the bank, requiring only bowing his head and avoiding a steel cable. This was the easy, but not adventurous way.

We paddled further and met a similar floating bridge near Wat Khlong Jan, this we tackled the easy way! These two low bridges proved clearly that although the water regulators had locks, indicating river transport at earlier times, this track was not fit anymore for navigation; even a simple long tail boat could not pass these bridges. It was another indication that the stretch between the two water regulators must be silted. The river looked very much the same as the Lopburi tributary. There were beautiful stretches on this river, with green coloured banks and low overhanging trees.

Finally we passed Wat Mai Wong Duang, went under the Tha Bot Bridge and arrived at the Tha Bot water regulator; arriving is maybe not exactly the right word, as the regulator including the lock was completely filled by water hyacinth, a 400 meter long pack, river wide of weed; a 40.000 square meters sea of green. The promises of the government to maintain canal and rivers after the great flooding in 2011, seems to be longtime forgotten. We paddled back as we could not navigate to the lock and we found a spot to land on the road leading to Wat Tha Bot. Mr Pok picked us up on the roadside, inquired if we were hungry and led us to a small eating house in front of Wat Mai. After a quick lunch we left for Ayutthaya. Mr Pok proudly announced he knew a short cut to Ayutthaya. So we went with his judgement and he took us on sightseeing tour … Instead of taking the AH1, which would us have brought home in 1.5 Hr, we drove Pok's 2.5 Hr long "short cut"… When in Rome, do as the Romans do! 

Make a free website with Yola