Unseen Thailand: Klong Takian
A small group of expatriates have developed a fondness for kayaking Ayutthaya’s rivers and canals. This article was inspired by one successful excursion down a remote canal called Klong Takian. This canal passes by the ancient sites of Muslim, Vietnamese, and Portuguese settlers. It is a remarkable fusion of Buddhists, Christians, and Muslims living in peace.
The painsaking research behind this article took months to accomplish. On a sidenote: Bangkok Phil, who operates ajarn.com, where this material was first published, once lectured me that it wasn’t enough about education. He warned me not to write anything like it again for his website. Sod him! this research is about as educational as you can get.
The kayak floated aimlessly like a tired fish hooked on a string. Two friends steadied the long and slender vehicle as I climbed in. This first mounting was a rite of passage. It marked the transition from the end of a long semester to the beginning of summer holiday. Testing was done and grades almost ready to turn in. My time was free for proper traveling.
Nevertheless, this act of leisure bore a significance beyond scholastic endeavours. I was also about to explore Ayutthaya waterways for the first time without motors or petro. It was a loss of innocence, so to speak. After nearly 175 rides via long-tail boat, I decided to get a little more intimate. I wanted my body to have direct contact with the water. Besides, how could something not be fun when it involves me, two paddles, and two mates? Let me introduce them to you as Udall Coates and Joost Jacobsz.
The three of us borrowed this kayak from a former landlady at a riverside flat where I used to live. She bought it for use during the great flood of 2001. My gaff on stilts was so saturated that I needed to paddle to work by boat (at least from my staircase to the main road). The neighborhood children would gather and laugh as I tried to manoeuvre with wooden paddles on route to class. There is something about a farang paddling a boat that is very funny for a Thai audience. But I got better at the skill with practice.
At one point I even held a yard sale. Since the Chao Phraya River had swallowed my yard, I shuffled potential buyers onto a boat and paddled them to sales – like a strategic merchant from Venice (of the East). If they didn’t buy anything, I could always make them wade back to shore, right? I made a right amount of quid at this yard sale, I did. One of these passengers, Joost, who I met for the first time that day, later joined me for this latest Kayaking adventure. Our new eco-tour destination was an obscure local canal called Klong Takian.
Why spend a Saturday afternoon learning to Kayak on a canal that few people have ever heard of before? Well, it is just sort of there. It was one of the few local canals that I hadn’t explored yet. Long-tail boats can’t navigate down its thin curves. They always break to a halt in frustration. Twice I tried to penetrate the canal to no avail. It felt like quitting in defeat before unhooking a precious bra strap. I had to do Klong Takian. That was all there was to it. I originally planned to have a go alone. Mind you, I doubted that anyone would be willing to join me. This isn’t passive tourism; it takes a lot of work to see the place. Klong Takian doesn’t harbour any major sites. It’s just a standard countryside fishing canal. But I wanted to see where it goes.
During a typical Friday night at Ong’s pub, I babbled incoherently to Joost and Udall about my desire for more extreme forms of eco-tourism. I displayed old maps showing Klong Takian, which were grossly inaccurate in scale and contradictory in direction. Tributaries multiplied or vanished depending on who was drawing. Some maps solved cartography problems simply by ignoring this canal altogether.
It was a flawed plan for an expedition, because we really had no clue about what we would see or the obstacles we would encounter along way. But to my surprise, Joost, the engineer immediately volunteered. He even suggested that we depart, hangovers intact, early the next afternoon.
I was glad that he anteed up. It is healthy to have skilled engineer on the boat, especially one who knows first aid. By the end of the evening, a second engineer had committed to the journey, Udall, who was a professional rower. He knew all the technical nautical terms and even had his own boat, albeit one too large for our purpose. Joost and I coaxed him into the ride after a few beers and some discourse on local history. I promised to show him where the British once had a factory (which they ran into bankruptcy several times). Things were looking up for this excursion. At this rate, all I would need to contribute was opening beer cans and taking photographs.
By early afternoon I had mounted the kayak. And it felt good. Udall took the bow and Joost sat in the stern. As I looked westward, from the middle, I imagined the most beautiful place in the world – the unseen location where you will go next.
Before long the three of us were floating on the Chao Phraya River. It took a while to get the hang of steering. Paddling involves a lot of coordination between oarsmen. You have to navigate around the wake of larger boats. Surprisingly, the huge rice barges presented no problem. They were slow moving and easy to steer around. The main difficulty was fast moving long-tail boats, because they totally bounced our light-weight kayak as they sputtered by. At least, the Chao Phraya River moves very slowly and gently at this time of year (unlike the rainy season in which the river flows too rapidly due to monsoon floods). By the time we approached Klong Takian we had established teamwork. We took a brief minute to pay respect and to capture the moment on video, while I provided them with short historical context. They listened as we willingly hovered before the wide open mouth of the upper canal – waiting to plunge in.
Klong Takian has its important place in history. It was the primary location of the bloody Makassar Revolt in 1686. This key event, although mostly unknown, was pivotal in Ayutthaya’s maritime relationships. It reflects the failed struggle by foreign nations to control Thailand’s trading quays and its religious destiny. In other words, the Makkasar Revolt marked a clash between European Christians and Asian Muslims to convert King Narai from Buddhism – and to take over political power in the region.
Many of these struggles had little to do with Thailand’s self-interest, who only wanted to profit from trade, but they were battles among foreign visitors themselves. These disputes would ultimately drive a stake through the heart of maritime relationships in Ayutthaya – and theorists may reasonably argue that the Makassar Revolt marks the beginning of the downfall of the Ayutthaya empire. The story starts like this:
Muslim conversions in the Malay Peninsular (Malacca) began in 1450. The Kingdom of Patani declared itself Islamic in 1457. Unfortunately, the Ayutthaya empire quickly expanded its territorial boundaries into these Muslim areas shortly afterward. Thailand took control of Tenasserim in 1460, and forced the Sultan of Malacca to submit to Thailand in 1489 after a series of attacks (still a touchy point for Muslims in the south today). Thailand held these states for only a short period before Portugal took Malacca in 1511, and expanded its influence in states such as Patani and Ayutthaya. Eventually, Thailand signed a treaty with Portugal in 1516 that recognized the Portuguese suzerainty, and the two countries develop a strong diplomatic trading relationship. In fact, the Portuguese were even given land to settle on in Ayutthaya and they were allowed to build three Christian churches (Jesuit, Franciscan, and Dominican). Other European countries soon establish trade in Ayutthaya. The Dutch arrive in 1604, the Danish in 1620, the English in 1661, and the French in 1672. In 1665, King Narai gave the French land to establish St Joseph church, which was formally opened in 1685 – at the upper mouth of Klong Takian [Note: many Japanese and Vietnamese Christians also came to Ayutthaya to flee religious persecution at home].
Also added to the global mix: Sometime between 1595 and 1602 two brothers arrived for trade from the Islamic holy city of Qom in Persia. Sheik Ahmad served as an advisor to the King from around 1610-1628. Muhamad Said, his brother, was not an ordinary trader either. The two aristocratic brothers relocated to Ayutthaya to stay permanently, bringing with them fleets of servants. This family (linked to the Bunnnag) had a lasting impact in terms of architecture, politics, and intellectual development. In the early 1600s, Muslims from the Mughal dynasty started to pour into Ayutthaya from South Asia. These were traders from the eastern coast of India (sometimes they are inaccurately referred to as Moors). Later, following Malay rebellions in the 1630s, a third group of Muslims was forced to settle in central and northern provinces. Many Muslims insurgents, who opposed King Prasat Thong’s usurping of the throne in Ayutthaya, were made to relocate to Ayutthaya from Patani and Tenasserim due to these uprisings. A fourth group of Muslims arrived in Ayutthaya from Cambodia, the Cham, who were promised land after serving as volunteer mercenaries. A fifth Muslim group, from the Celebes (now Sulawesi) of Indonesia, migrated to Ayutthya with King Narai’s consent after the Dutch occupied their island in 1666-1667. These were the Makassars. Like the French, they also settled at the mouth of Klong Takian.
Klong Takian is an important location for various Muslim communities in Ayutthaya. This narrow canal was the population centre for most Pattani, Moor, and Makassar residents. Klong Takian also had strategic value, since the man-made canal acted as a backdoor to Ayutthaya Island. It bypassed the main trading quay. Although scholars neglect to point this out, Klong Takian might have also served alternatives purposes in terms of military value and smuggling. Muslims held power in Klong Takian precisely because that is where they lived. However, by the time that the Makassar arrived the Muslim influence in Ayutthaya was already waning. The death of an important Persian trader, Muhammad Sayyid Ardestani, weakened trade in 1665; Many South Asians had also been expelled from the country due to corruption; and King Narai seized more monopolistic power over the trading of goods. More importantly, however, the king had started to favor newly emerging western alliances.
In this context, a Greek adventurer known as Constance Phaulkon (Gerakis) plopped ashore in Ayutthaya in 1678. Constance ran away from home as a young boy and spent his formative years in low-end jobs aboard English boats. Being a cabin boy and an assistant gunner (a powder monkey) on a ship full of hardened British nationals no doubt led to its fair share of bullying, especially when one is a Greek with a name like “Constance”. But luckily Mr. Phaulkon had the gift of tongue. During his travels he learned to speak Greek, English, Malay, and Portuguese fluently – and in only a few years he picked up Thai.
His skill with languages made him priceless as a translator and accountant in this thriving maritime city. Constance rapidly scaled the ladder of upward mobility. He was given luxurious residencies in both Loburi and Ayutthaya. Before long he held a high ranking position and directly advised King Narai.
Despite these achievements Constance behavior suggested a former cabin boy set on revenge for past abuse. For example, he angered Dutch and British merchants by representing private traders at the expense of company interests. He taunted French clergy for their bad pronunciation of the Thai language. He also informed King Narai that Persians, Malays, and Indians had falsified financial accounts – but, avoided to mention that the Dutch and British were also cooking the books. Constance was an opportunist. He manipulated situations to financially prosper and gain power. He had competitive rivalry with French and Muslim leaders, but also played up to both of them for future rewards. At the time of the revolt, Constance was ingratiating himself with the French, whom he believed presented the most lucrative security option in case of King Narai’s demise (It has also been suggested the French boats were helping Constance smuggle treasure out of Thailand). The French were beginning to make boldly aggressive overtures in Thailand. They applied pressure to have King Narai converted to Christianity, refused to take off shoes and to bow ceremoniously when meeting the king, and constructed two fortresses in Bangkok (with Thai approval). In 1686, Constance learned about a possible coup plot by Muslims. It was time for him to cash in on global politics.
The alleged plot was that the Makassars planned to overthrow the king to place one of his younger brothers on the throne – providing that he convert to Islam. Then the waning Muslim influence could be corrected, and the growing Christian presence in the royal courtyards could be reduced (something that many Thai elites were growing suspicious of). Meanwhile, the French conspired to convert King Narai to Christianity, or at least place the crippled prince, Aphaithot, into power after Narai’s demise, since the prince had possibly converted to Christianity in hopes of overcoming his physical paralysis. Constance naturally sided with the French – he had recently been converted to Catholicism (from Protestant) by a French Jesuit and married a Japanese Christian for his wife. Therefore, Constance promptly formed a coalition of willing Christians to gang up on the Makassars. This military expedition included: Siamese and native Christians (of Portuguese descent), 12-15 Frenchmen, and some English. The Dutch stayed out of the dispute. The coalition of the willing attacked the Makassar settlement, but they had not thought out a winning strategy very well in advance. The Makassars are fierce fighters who are very skilled with a knife called a ”Kris”. They were not afraid to die in a battle against infidels. The military expedition was sent running for their lives. Constance barely escaped alive.
Constance then reduced the number of opponents afterward by tricking 53 of them to leave Ayutthaya by boat. He promised them free passage out of Bangkok. However, Constance had ulterior motives. For some inexplicable reason, Constance send a second, contradictory, letter to Chevalier de Forbin, who was commanding royal forces at a fort in Bangkok. Forbin spoke Thai successfully and was in the King’s favour due to his training of regiments. The French navy lieutenant was instructed to block the passage of the Makassar’s boat. The letter suggested that the French retain them by deceit to spare bloodshed. The Makassar rebels’ boat was like a shaken hornet nest floating downstream. Forbin never had a clear idea about the volatile nature of Makassars when trapped. Predictably, full scale military combat followed. Forbin lost 356 men in the first day of confrontation. But, in return nearly every Makassars was hunted down and killed. Forbin later believed that he had been politically set up due to Constance’s jealousy. (*Smithies 42-45).
The Makassars in Ayutthaya realized that reprisals would come quickly. As legend has it some killed their mothers and children in anticipation of coming slaughter. Constance returned later for a second attack. This time spiked stakes were placed around the river’s waters that would impale Makassar warriors as they swarmed in for hand-to-hand combat. Those that survived could have easily been picked off with French armaments. The Makassar prince was killed by multiple puncture wounds. His two sons were taken to France in 1688 and forcefully baptized Christian. The elder son later stabbed himself to death and the younger became devoid of humanity. Nearly all survivors were executed, and those that survived melted in with other Muslim communities.
Today there are few traces of the Makassar in existence. In the two attacks in Ayutthaya four Frenchmen were killed and at least two of three British, including a captain that drowned in the river because he fell into it fully armed (*Smithies 42-45).
Now, I don’t want to sound like a historical revisionist, but let’s just ask a single question: What if the threat of a coup was only a hoax? After all, it is not unheard of for an influential leader to lie in order to provoke a profitable war. Nor would it be an original idea to blame enemies as a distraction from one’s own foul intentions. The Makassar never actually attacked the capital at all, and it is questionable if they ever had the means for a successful coup in the first place.
More importantly, why did Constance place himself in charge of a military expedition to crush the revolt? Why was the military expedition comprised almost exclusively of Christians? Why wasn’t King Narai informed or Thai troops involved?
Constance had great incentives to make false claims about a plot to overthrow the king. For example, once the Makassars Muslims were eliminated, other Muslim leaders could in turn be made suspects for future coups. Constance already created an environment of distrust by pointing out the faulty financial accounting of Muslim merchants; he now had more evidence that could raise his standing. Secondly, Constance set up a political rival for a fall. The contradictory letters made the surprised Chevalier de Forbin look bad, since he lost so many men fighting the Makassar in Bangkok – while Constance defeated the same enemy in Ayutthaya with less casualties. Thirdly, Constance coveted the sandalwood supply of the private French merchant Sieur de Ruen, which he wanted to buy more cheaply. Sieur de Ruen was one of the French killed during the Makassar attacks in Ayutthaya, thus creating a lucrative opportunity for discount purchases. Finally, King Narai must have recognized Constance’s esteem after this defense from an alleged coup. When thought about in this light, the events are more of a staged massacre than an actual revolt. Nevertheless, the Makassar uprising in July 1886 ignited future religious and political friction.
The British were among the first to face a violent backlash. The English had run their company into deficits many times in Ayutthaya, yet Constance Phaulkon had made extensive use of English bodyguards, even arming them in battle against the Makassar. Constance also commissioned English privateers (more or less pirates) against Muslim ships from India. These English privateers became involved in activities that conflicted with the English East India Company, like capturing ships and taking their booty. Ultimately, this tension exploded in July 1687 with the Mergui Massacre. More than sixty British were killed in a single night by Muslims in this port town on the Tenasserim coast. The British expatriates were slaughtered down to the last man. This time it was called a massacre.
King Narai declared war on the English East India trading company and handed Mergui over to a French governor and his troops. British departure from Ayutthaya was quickly expedited after this attack.
The moral irony is that all this violence in Thailand was to no avail. Shortly after a solar eclipse in April, 1688, King Narai became terminally ill (some scholars suspect poisoning by a Dutch physician). Constance Phaulkon was tortured to reveal where he hid his treasure, then beheaded in Lopburi on 5th June 1688. The next month, Phetracha, the former commander of the elephant camp, became an usurper to the throne. His support base included the Moors, who Constance tried to suppress, and the Dutch who desired a monopoly on deer hides. All the potential heirs to King Narai were executed. Two of Narai’s brothers were accused of being the accomplices behind the Makassar Revolt and murdered. King Narai finally died shortly later in July. The Makassar Revolt was more than a few random battles, it marked the beginning of a full blown revolution.
In the middle of this revolutionary turmoil, the French sent 1,300 men and five war ships to the mouth of Chao Phraya to demand entry to Bangkok and to seize the fortresses. They were fully armed with a new invention of explosive shells that could be fired by gun. However, these wars ships had travelled during the harsh rainy season. Troops were too demoralized with dysentery and scurvy to fight. More than 200 soldiers died from sickness before any decisive battle could take place. One of Constance’s last deeds was to help derail these French military plans.
Meanwhile, the French dream of recruiting King Narai as a Christian had desperately failed. Thailand successfully remained Buddhist till the end. The French began retreating from Ayutthaya in 1688. This departure marks the start of a new era in Ayutthaya history. It was the beginning of an entirely new dynasty, which unfortunately became the empire’s last.
As we lined our boat up with the upper mouth of Klong Takian, the actual entrance for water flow, one obvious image unfolded that is lacking in textbooks. Directly on the east side of Klong Takian is St. Joseph church, where the French missionaries preached (and where the Vietnamese refugees lived that had converted to Christianity). Which raises the question: Where exactly did the Makassar Muslims live? One of my sources places the Makassar refugee settlement at the mouth of Klong Takian on its west side – directly across from St. Joseph church. Both settlements would be located close enough to be hit by a stone. Place two sworn religious enemies at this close of proximity and disaster must be inevitable. This would be a classic example of poor urban planning.
More likely, the Makassar actually lived at the lower mouth of Klong Takian where waterflow exits back to Chao Phraya river (closer to Bang Pa-in Palace). Could the European Christians have noticed strategic opportunity in controlling both mouths of Klong Takian? Whoever held entrances at both sides of Klong Takian could dominate over and profit from the communities living within. Maybe they could declare some toll rights or avoid taxation on smuggling goods (bypassing the main port).
Could the Muslim communities be slowly constricted economically until strangled? Such actions might serve to defeat an already weakened Muslim community. Of course, all this is just speculation, but one wonders if the Makassar Revolt/Massacre was provoked by ulterior motives. It’s hard to say, since nearly all the Makassars were killed. They have left no voice to defend themselves with. Therefore, when I gazed forward at Klong Takian, it was an unexplained void in history that looked back.
This story was enough foreplay. It was time to slide in. A few quick flicks of the paddles and we were at the point of no return. I couldn’t help but wonder if we were the first farangs down Klong Takian since the fall of Ayutthaya. I don’t mean to imply that we were adventurous on the scale of Henri Mouhot, but that Klong Takian is too obscure and rural for anyone to bother exploring. Tourists never had a reason to see it before, and western expatriates don’t live in this part of town. We were one of the few westerners to find purpose touring Klong Takian.
Steering the kayak down the narrow passage presented some problems. The weight of the boat had momentum. It was hard to correct our direction, which caused a few minor scrapes with trees along the shoreline. This is especially easy to do since some parts are so overgrown with vegetation that it is like a jungle. Luckily, I wasn’t sitting in front and Udall took he worse of blows. It didn’t take long, however, before we found our rhythm and developed breaking skills. We quickly learned to coordinate our paddling and to communicate about what was coming up ahead.
In the first ten minutes we spotted a monitor lizard. I have seen these critters get so large in Ayutthaya that they are almost the size of Kimono dragons. This one was fairly small, though, and it dived underwater when it saw us. These timid creatures often escape to cavernous homes dug into the riverbanks. Seeing it by kayak felt more quiet and intimate. It didn’t really matter that the sighting was so brief. There is also a variety of colorful birds that I have never been able to identify. One of these days I need to persuade a bird watcher hobbyist onto a boat in Ayutthaya. As beautiful as they might be, I seldom bother to remember what these birds are called.
Klong Takian used to be an open waterway. The liquid artery pumped into the heart of the Muslim community. It was too important to plug up. Nowadays, as we discovered, there are many obstacles in the water. The first one was a small wooden bridge. We thought we might have to lift the kayak over it, but when I climbed onto the bridge I noticed a second option. One large wooden plank could be slid over giving us room. Joost and Udall paddled the Kayak right through the bridge. I inserted the plank back into place after we had cleared the opening. The second barrier was the curse of the canals, a prolific plant called a water hyacinth, or Java weed. I have also heard some locals call them, “the giant vegetables”, which is the name that I like best. These water plants have no natural predator, so they quickly overpopulate canals and strangle the flow of traffic. Another 3-4 water tours could be done in Ayutthaya if hyacinth were dredged out more often. For the most part, we could steer our kayak around them, but in one bend a patch of Java weed was way too prolific. It took us ten minutes to hack our way through.
A thin layer of smoke wafted above the water. People were burning rubbish and yard scraps. This was a definite sign of civilisation. Many local fishers set traps along the canal. Their favourite is a large net that sinks to the bottom and spreads out. The net can be quickly lifted by a rope around a pulley, which ensnares all the surprised fish in the way.
Fishing by canoe is very rare, in fact we only saw one other boat in this canal – and the woman wasn’t fishing. But the deeper we went into Klong Takian the more buildings seemed to pop up. There are many villages. Buddhist and Muslim presence are both evident. We passed numerous temples: Wat Klang, Wat Tha Mai, Wat Chang, and Wat Khok Chin Daram. There was also several Mosques that I know little about. The Muslims along this canal were once noted for their weaving and net-making skills, but nowadays most of them seek jobs as civil servants and factory workers.
In an different age people might have worried about crocodiles in the water or tigers on the land. Nowadays, the greatest fear seems to be Muslim people. I am being serious. Tourists actually inquired if I was afraid of these Muslim-infested waters. They asked if I was not endangered as a white farang in remote Klong Takian. But Americans tend to be over-frightened these days. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that villagers were quite friendly.
One thing that all villagers had in common was their amazement to see three farangs paddling in a kayak past their homes. Fleets of bathing children would playfully swim at us. Adults would point us out to neighbors. Crowds would gather. We attracted a curious audience wherever we went.
And for the record, the terrorist operative chief who helped mastermind the Bali bombings for Jemaah Islamiah, known as Hambali, never lived near these waters. In 2003, Riduan Isamuddin (alias Hambali) was caught near Ayutthaya “Grand” street, which is a busy tourist district outside the island – far away from Klong Takian. To be precise, Hambali was arrested in flat #601 of Boonyarak Apatments where he lived with his wife for $115 per month. This address is close to Ayutthaya karaoke clubs and red light districts. It is not where one would imagine a religious fundamentalist.
One drawback of river communities is that they tend to pollute. The water quality of this canal is very bad. A lot of debris has built up along the banks. Plastic bags full of waste gently float by. In all likelihood the canal also has its share of raw sewage – always a problem in stagnant water when it comes to disease. Some discarded waste products can be useful. For example, abandoned lorry tyres can provide fish with breeding areas and old sunken boats can help slow the erosion of river banks. However, plastic debris, soda tins, and Styrofoam are very unsightly. It takes forever for them to degrade. I imagine that broken bottles have also injured more than a few children. Despite this pollution, Klong Takian plays a vital role for local communities. They use the water to fish, bathe, wash clothing, and nourish gardens.
About half way down Klong Takian (some French maps label it “Grand Cochran”) we arrived at the mouth of Klong Pracham (which the French labeled “Petite Cochran”). Most old maps portray both canals in some form, but the latter canal especially lacks information. Pattani Muslims are clustered beside it. The Cham Muslims from Cambodia also built a community here (near Wat Kaeo Fa).
Nowadays, Klong Pracham has greatly filled in with silt, so the passages are rather narrow. In earlier times people could take a boat north all the way to the Chao Phraya River, but a modern road supposedly prevents this today. I was game to see where Klong Pracham actually goes anyway. However, my proposal was promptly vetoed by Udall and Joost. They reasoned that is would be too difficult to turn around if we got stuck. The canal was so narrow that our kayak had too little room to manoeuvre. The water was also a dirty, stagnant, grey colour. It is hard to argue with the wisdom of engineers when you are only a humble English teacher. I felt slightly let down that this canal remained out of reach, but in the end we struck with our original plan to see Klong Takian.
The three of us continued downstream. We spent a short time calmly floating in our own personal space. I focused on a river bend in front of me, because it represented the most beautiful place in the world – the unseen location that would unfold next. We paddled down a few more slight turns, when suddenly the mouth of the canal was within sight. I relaxed into a silent moment of triumph. After brief ceremony, we slowly slid our steed out from Klong Takian. It was like a slip road leading to a freeway. We were back on the Chao Phraya River once again. The Portuguese, Japanese, British, and Dutch settlements (in order) were just ahead to the north.
We successfully kayaked from one end of Klong Takian to the other. The journey took roughly two hours from my former landlady’s home. There were no injuries and nobody fell into the water. I felt a cocky sense of accomplishment. We had invented a new eco-tour, put it to test, and survived without incident. It was an outright peaceful experience. Oddly, we had latched onto something thrilling that nobody else was doing. Only the rarest of tourists makes use of Ayutthaya’s waterways by kayak. However, many of the city’s small canals are ideal for this type of transport.
The three of us immediately began to plan future kayaking excursions (Klong Hantra, Klong Aap, and Klong Sa Bua). I began mapping out possible kayaking routes on the island itself, while we ate a celebratory picnic of crisps at a riverside temple. I couldn’t help but notice how our harnessed kayak transformed back to a fish hooked onto a string. It just floated there aimlessly. I wondered if I could make merit by releasing it again for another journey upstream.
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Gilquin, Michel. The Muslims of Thailand. Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books, 2005.
Phulsarp, Sunjai. Ayutthaya: The Portraits of the Living Legends. Bangkok: Plan Motif Publisher, 1996.
*Smithies, Michael. A Resounding Failure: Martin and the French in Siam 1672-1693. Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books, 1998.
Smithies, Michael & Bressan, Luigi. Siam and the Vatican in the Seventeenth Century. Bangkok: River Books, 2001.
Wyatt, David. A Short History of Thailand (2nd ed.). London: Yale University Press, 2003.