Roughly 60 miles west of Bangkok is Thailand 's smallest province by area: Samut Songkhram covers approximately 416 square kilometers and is home to some 210,000 human souls. Bordering to the Southwest is Phetchburi, West / North is Ratchaburi, Northeast is Nakhon Pathom, East is Samut Sakhon and to the south is the Gulf of Thailand . While other provinces in Thailand contain dozens of districts, Samut Songkrham, or Mae klong as locals refer to it, only has three districts (the only other province to have three districts is Phuket). These include, Muang district (Mae Klong), Ampawa district, and Bang Khon thi district. As the rest of the Thai kingdom, Muang district is the largest and most significant city of the province.
For hundreds if not thousands of years, the region has been strategic for trade and transport, particularly during the age of the boat, as the nickname, Mae klong is derived from the mighty Mae klong river which begins in the hills of Kanchanburi-Myanmar making its journey south through Ratchaburi and Samut Songkhram before finally emptying out into the Gulf of Thailand at the point known as Don Hoi lort (roughly 10 kilometers south of Mae klong city).
Those who have ever lived, stayed, or enjoyed a prolonged visit to Mae klong can attest that it is one of the most serene and peaceful places in Thailand with in overall low crime and fatality rate. A majority of the province's citizens are well nourished, seeming larger and taller than the modern Thai average, where 180-200 centimeters height / 80-120 kilogram (particularly the males) are not uncommon.
For being only an hour drive from the capital, it's no wonder that many locals maintain jobs and / or studies in Bangkok , commuting back and forth throughout the week. During the mornings and evenings, Muang district's narrow streets are packed with cars, busses, and trucks making their way in and out of the market, which consists of various lower to medium commercial shops, a small three story department / grocery store complex, a handful of clinics and temples, and one central provincial government hospital.
Downtown's primetimes are at 07.00 - 10.00 and 15.00 -20.00, when the streets are ever crowded with pedestrians, motorcycles, bicycles, sawng taews, and sam lors---on the commute and out for a bite. A typical Thai buffet selection of vendors, offering noodles, rice, deserts, fruit juice, satay, grilled, fried, isarn food, steaks, tim sum, and fruit shakes in front of Wat Phet.
The heart of Mae klong's economy is without a doubt, fruit, followed by fish. Outside of town, one is almost instantly zapped to a Siam much unchanged from a century or too ago surrounded by fish-rich klongs and tributaries (canals) and never-ending fruit orchards, groves and plantations---primarily Coconut, Palm sugar and oil, Pomelo, bananna, and even lychee. In addition to fruit, Mae Klong is also well known for its Bpla Tuu, or mackerel fish, which is exported all over Thailand , fresh and canned.
The province also hosts two floating markets. The most popular and well known one is the weekend / evening market in Ampawa district and the Ta ka floating market of Ta ka subdistrict. The latter market is offered in the morning hours, following the traditional lunar calendar (Click on Tak ka photo thumbnail below for more details)
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