Chantaburi

Rong Mai Community

   

Once you visit the Mangrove Resources Development Station 2 (Ban Tha Sorn, Chanthaburi), you will enjoy not only the ecotours; such as, a boat tour to see Brahminy Kites, exploring mangrove forest, or fireflies watching, but also cultural and historical tours; such as, the ancient village where many famous local souvenirs including fish paste or sun-dried shrimps are freshly made daily.

The Rong Mai Community is located at the end of Klong Bang Chan next to the Welu River estuary. To visit this community, we took a boat ride from the Station. Along the way we enjoyed the coastal scenery of peaceful mangrove forests, and magnificent scenery of flying Brahminy Kites. It took only 20 minutes to get to the village.

From the first impression, it did confirm us that this village was quite a large community from looking at the houses on high stilts with gable roofs stretching along both banks of the canal and a Chinese shrine was strikingly located on the estuary at the corner of the village.

The ancient shrine indicates that this is a Chinese community. We found evidence that Wat Arun Samutharam or Wat Bang Chan, the community’s temple was issued with the document of establishment in the reign of King Rama V the Great to confirm that this community was built more than a hundred years ago.

Even nowadays, this ancient community still has no road access. The only way to commute is by boat.

The Village Headman, Mr. Pairin Oranpaibul, told us that currently there were 120-130 households, and over a thousands of residents. Eighty percent of the population here still made a living from krill culture and local fishing; such as, catching crabs and shrimps, and fish farming in baskets.

Krill posts are made from tall bamboo stakes firmly plunged into the water. Two posts are tied with a rectangular net. During the high tide, villagers will first let the sea animals coming with the tide pass and then a low tide trap other creatures; such as, shrimps, shellfish, and squids for food processing.

Krill is a small shellfish and is used to make shrimp paste. The best time to trap krill is during August - October. If anyone is interested to buy great flavored shrimp paste from this community, please keep in mind to come visit at this time.

Shrimp can be caught all year long and sun-dried shrimp preparation is the main occupation for the locals.

While walking on the concrete bridge to the community, we saw cute mud skippers using their pectoral fins to walk on the muddy beach, chasing each other, or feeding.

In front of many homes next to the bridge, we saw flat baskets with sun-dried shrimps spread throughout the path.

Aunt Rattana Sriprajan, who was working on a basket of sun-dried shrimps, told us with great humor about the process of drying shrimp. After shrimps were caught from the sea, they would be clean and steamed for a half hour until well-done. After that let the shrimps were left to dry in the sun for 2 days. The secret of the aromatic shrimp was the strong sunlight.

After that, we put the sun-dried shrimps in a cloth bag and crush their shells. Then a bamboo basket was used to remove the shells before the shrimps were assorted to size for sale at 1,100 Baht per kilogram.

Frequently, tourists came to visit this community for its well-known local products like shrimp paste and sun-dried shrimps, etc.

Tourists sometimes wanted to bargain for a lower price, but the local sellers did not agree with them.

Besides the local souvenirs, this ancient community also has a long tradition, passed down through generations, which is the festival of the Buddha parade around the canal. This festival is arranged annually 15 days after the Chinese New Year.

Any one who is interested in cultural and historical tours should not miss this ancient village.