Sunday, January 31, 2010

District museum Khlong San

Udom Wittaya libraryThe smallest of the Bangkok district museums I have visited so far is the on of Khlong San district, just across the river from Chinatown. It is located within the public library of Wat Anongkharam (วัดอนงคาราม), named Udom Wittaya library (หอสมุดอุดมวิทยา). I love libraries, just sadly it has only Thai books in this one so there was no point in browsing through the shelves - besides I was coming there in late afternoon and it seemed they were about to close soon anyway.

Portrait of Somdet Ya, Khlong San district museumThe museum is in the first floor, just up the stairs and then to the right. When I entered, I asked the clerk at ground floor for the location of the museum with those few Thai words I can say, so she directed me upstairs and gave a warning call to the one upstairs that it has a farang coming for the museum. I guess foreigner are a rare sight in there, like in all of these museums.

The central place of the museum area is taken by a portrait of Somdet Ya, the mother of King Bhumipol. She was educated in this temple, and close by the temple a Somdet Ya garden was established around a reconstructed house of your youth.

Khlong San district museum exhibitsOther exhibits include old tools used by the main professions in the district, like those salt drying tools I photographed. There's also a bell from the Khlong Sa-Tha Chin railway - originally the Maeklong railway started in this district, now the endpoint is at Wong Wian Yai. Another nice antique exhibit is a metal shop sign; also shown are a few Khon masks manufactured in the district - Ban Khon Thai (บ้านโขนไทย) is located in Khlong San.

The museum is most worth if you combine the visit with the already mentioned nearby Suan Somdet Ya, and the temple Wat Pichai Yat, which I may write about later as well.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Phum Riang silk village

Phum Riang in Chaiya district, northern Surat Thani province, is a small Muslim fishing town, which however is famous for the hand-woven silk products. Like many me, shopping for handicrafts, especially textiles, isn't my favorite kind of activity, but when we went to the main shop in the town last time after a short look around my mother-in-law led to the back exit of the shop right into the working area of the weavers.

Since it was on the day after Songkhran, only very few workers were there, so I could look around without worrying to disturb them by my curious looks, photography or by simply standing in the way. Still I could see the dyeing of the silk, the rolling-up of the freshly dyed silk, as well as one loom in action weaving some clothes. Yet since it was very tightly packed in there it was not easy to catch the loom on photo.

As we had to travel there on Songkhran - in evening my mother-in-law had her annual school reunion nearby - and therefore the main street was full of the youth playing with water, thus I did not dare to stroll around the town for other sights to keep my camera dry. Which is actually a pity as Phum Riang is quite a significant town despite its present remoteness. Phum Riang was the seat of the province Chaiya, before it was merged with Kanchanadit in 1899 and the seat was moved to Bandon, the present day city of Surat Thani. When the railway was built, the new settlement Talat Chaiya was built. I am not sure which year the district administration moved from Phum Riang to Talat Chaiya, but today the only office left in Phum Riang is the municipality administration.

I doubt any of the old administrative buildings still survive after about 100 years, but at least the historical temples still are on my list of places to visit when I return there next time.