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The rustic charms of Suphan Buri

Posted on 03 March 2016 by admin

Once a peaceful place, the reservoir of Khao Wong in Dan Chang district has now become a hot destination.

Every weekend, peaceful Suphan Buri turns vibrant when Bangkokians escape from the crowded city to spend their holiday in a rural destination.  

Vast rice paddies, lush plantations of sugar palm and fruit orchards, as well as old-fashioned markets, seem quite interesting for city dwellers who make the escape to Suphan Buri every weekend. Compared with destinations like Pattaya or Hua Hin, even Suan Phung of Ratchaburi, Suphan Buri can be considered a bit boring. The province does not have beautiful resorts or a beach life to lure tourists. But it seems tourists coming to Suphan Buri are not looking for such things.

Buffalo Village in Sri Prachan district is an example of a popular destination in Suphan Buri. Situated on Highway 340, the theme village brings visitors back to yesteryear, before the coming of tractors.

Suphan Buri has a lot of rice-farming areas. Water buffaloes once played a major role in ploughing, but they have now been replaced by machines. 

As a water-buffalo preservation area, the village also features the rural lifestyle of farmers in Thailand’s central region. Shows available here include Thai farmers engaging in such activities as rice-threshing. Visitors can enjoy half-hour buffalo shows throughout the day or try out traditional Thai massage and explore traditional Thai homes.

If you find the themed village is not enough, Sam Chuk Market can offer a real touch of Suphan Buri in traditional style.

Sam Chuk Market is an old market where visitors will find themselves walking back to yesteryear, before the arrival of modern trade business. The market fascinates visitors with wooden gingerbread houses lining narrow streets, yummy cuisine, nostalgic atmosphere and stuff that reminds them of the old days.

The first place you should have a look is the history centre, at the former house of nobleman and market owner Khun Chamnong Chinarak. An exhibition in the house tells stories about the community, and features the home utensils of Suphan Buri people from around a century ago.

A stone’s throw from the history centre is Udom Choke Hotel, another architectural heritage of the community. The two-storey wooden building comprises 12 guestrooms with shared bathrooms. But you can no longer try it out. Now it’s become a coffeehouse where customers can sit back and get a glimpse of the old-fashioned enclave.

A vendor with a 500g meatball.

Next to the old hotel is Ban Coke, a house that keeps a large collection of Coca–Cola items, from clocks to toys, posters to souvenirs. Down the lane is Maha Sanook, a toy shop that offers items you cannot find in a modern outlet today. There are so many shops in the retro style that some say it is a living museum.

But this living museum is also packed with a great variety of local foods, ranging from noodles to baked goods. A dish you will see a lot here is pork meatballs. No, they are not ordinary meatballs. Actually, they are huge, up to a kilogramme in weight. Smaller ones are also available. 

After lunch at the market, most visitors head north to see Suphan Buri at a more relaxing pace. Their destination is Bung Chawak, with a reservoir whose surrounding area has been developed as a recreational destination for the locals.

Grass lawns and a garden, empty roads with bike lanes, a small zoo for families, and a beautiful, breezy reservoir — of course Suphan Buri people love it, as well as tourists.

But most visitors dart directly to the famous Bung Chawak aquarium and walk through glass tunnels to witness the huge collection of fish. You will be amazed in this aquarium, but you should wait until seeing the highlight located deep inside.

The crowd is gathering in front of a large glass tunnel. Above their heads, a big shark is swimming, followed by another shark, and many more. All seem a bit hungry, of course – it is their lunch time.

At 2pm sharp, a group of scuba divers slowly climbs into the big tank, with fish buckets for their sharks and sticks to hit the sharks’ noses, in case they think divers are tastier than those small fish. The fish smell may make them active, showing sharp teeth while searching for their lunch. Visitors open their eyes wide when a shark comes close enough to a diver to snatch a fish right from his hand.

Within minutes, all sharks are fed. The feeding show is over. Divers wave to the visitors and re-emerge to the surface. Visitors leave the aquarium and find themselves among the countryside landscape of Suphan Buri. A breeze blows through the park and makes all visitors comfortable before they head back to crowded Bangkok.

Feeding time at Bung Chawak Aquarium.

A water buffalo at Buffalo Village.

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