A Journey through an unfrequented Part of Ayudhya District. พิมพ์ อีเมล
เขียนโดย Lieut. Col. J. P. Andersen.   

 

ANDERSON, J.P. A JOURNEY THROUGH AN UNFREQUENTED pt. OF AYUDHYA DISTRICT. JSS. VOL. 20 (pt. 2) 1926. p.149-166

 

 

                   A Journey through an unfrequented Part

                                        of Ayudhya District.

                               BY  Lieut. Col. J. P. Andersen.
                                        _______________

 

          During the month of February this year I was on tour
through the southern part of the country lying between the railway
line to the North and the river Prasak, which comprises the
north-eastern part of Changvad Lopburi and the north-western part
of Changvad Saraburi, both provinces in Ayudhya Circle. As
this particular part of the country is very rarely visited by
anybody, I venture to hope that a description of the journey may be
of interest to the Members of the Siam Society.
          On Friday the 30th of January I travelled by train as far as
Kok-Katiem, the first railway station north of Lopburi, here my
overland transport, consisting of three bullock-carts and three car-
riers, awaited me. They were to transport my baggage and camp-
kit to Kok-Samrong, the first lap of the journey.
          Kok-Samrong, where the Ampoe-office for the district of the
same name is situated, is some 31 kilometres from Kok-Katiem. As it
was late after-noon before a start was made, only 3 kilometres out of
the 31 were covered that day, and the night was spent in a small
village called Toranee, at the foot of the low hills one can see from
Lopburi, in a north-easterly direction.
          As the next day would be a long one, for 28 kilometres is
really too long a march to begin a jungle-journey with, a start was
made just before daybreak, so as to break the back of the day's
march before it got too hot.
          We travelled on a new road which the people in the
district had just been constructing under the direction of the
Governor. It was merely a broad belt cut, as near as possible, in
a straight line, through the jungle, and scrub had been cut level
with the ground, and as the country here is practically flat as a
table, and the surface is hard, it would be quite possible to use the
road for motor traffic in a mild way during the dry weather. As a
matter of fact, a couple of days later, the Governor did travel over

 

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the whole length of the road in a motor-lorry — the ubiquitous
Ford of course.
          The road ran the whole way through dry thin jungle, only
once came we near a village : here a halt of a couple of hours was
made, and after one or two more rests of short duration, Kok-Sam-
rong was reached about 3 p.m., quite a creditable performance for
both men and bullocks.
          The whole day a strong and refreshing wind had been blow-
ing which made marching much easier. During the night this wind
increased to a howling gale which lasted till midday the following
day. The three days I stayed in Kok-Samrong this was repeated
every day. During the day the temperature was low enough but
during the night it was bitterly cold.
          Kok-Samrong is a fairly large village, purely agricultural, the
nearest railway station is at Ban Mee, about 19 kilometres away, where
during the last 20 years a big and prosperous market has grown up.
Kok-Samrong itself has possibilities of development, there is plenty
of good arable land waiting to be cultivated, but what is necessary
is a good all-weather road from Ban Mee to Kok-Samrong.
          From Kok-Samrong I intended to go north to a village
called Ban Sra bote and from there east to Bua Chum on
the river Prasak, so I sought information about roads and
distances, and had the same experience as so often before:
nobody, neither Officials nor villagers, had any reliable information
to give, they seem to take very little interest in anything outside
their own district. I did find some villagers who had been to Bua
Chum, but as usual their notion of distances was very vague. Some
said that to go from Ban Sra-bote to Bua Chum, would take two
days, others said three, and there were some who would have it
a four days march. What nobody told me however was that there
is no cart-road from Ban Sra-bote to Bua Chum, although everybody
knew that I intended to use cart transport.
          Well, on Wednesday the 4th of February, I set out again with
my three carts and three carriers, the same I had before. That day I
only did a short march to a village called Paniet, 8 or 9 kilometres
due east of Kok-Samrong.   After a short stretch over paddy-fields

 

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the road ran through flat jungle which could easily be made into
good paddy-fields.
          Shortly before I came to Paniet there was at the road-side
the site of a very small ancient temple, the people called it " Bote
Tam Yaeh "; some of the boundary-posts, made of very roughly cut
granite, were still standing upright in the ground, two and two
together, but otherwise there was only a small mound of very large
bricks and fragments of dressed granite.
          Paniet lies at the foot of a very long and low hill, to the
north is a flat plain with paddy-fields and jungle and to the east
are small hills and undulating jungle. It is not a very big village nor
is it particularly prosperous, but it is a very old settlement.
          At the very foot of the hill, a few hundred yards from the
village, there is a big almost square stone, of a reddish colour, lying
on the ground, it is about 9 feet high 11 feet long and 7 feet broad.
On the flat top is a very well made "Buddha's Footprint" cut in
the stone, it is about 2 niu deep, 3 sok 3 niu long and 1 sok 7 niu at
the broadest part. On each of the two long sides of the stone are
rough sculptures, in very low relief, of three sitting Buddhas, not
much more than rough outlines, each one is about 2 sok high and
2 sok broad at the base. On one of the short sides is a similar
figure, and on the other short side is another figure, slightly better
sculptured, and only one sok high. A rectangular enclosure is made
by stones being loosely piled up into a wall, between one and two
sok high ; a few well-dressed square blocks of granite, like short
steps, are lying about. The people call it " Wat Noi " but seem to
take no interest in the place.
          In the jungle, less than a mile from the village, are two
springs with pure, crystal-clear water, a very rare thing in this part
of the country. The people however prefer to use the water in a pond
(sra) near the Wat, only when there is scarcity there do they go to
the springs.
          The next morning I turned northwards, and after six kilo-
metres through mixed paddy-fields and jungle I came to a smaller
village called Sakaerab: here we again joined the new road which
was being cut through the jungle as far as Ban Sra-bote.

 

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          During the morning the air was cool and fresh and it was
quite pleasant to walk, but gradually it became hotter, and about 11
o'clock, when Tachang, another small village, was reached, the sun
burned very strongly on the open road. From here we took to the
old road again, this was longer, the road not being in a straight line,
but it ran through uncut jungle, so there was a certain amount of
shade, and one did not feel the heat nearly so much.
          At 1.30 p.m., after a days march of 18 kilometres, I arrived at
Ban Sra-bote.
          This is the largest and most prosperous village in the Ampoe-
district, the people own extensive paddy fields and large herds of
cattle and buffaloes.   They are mostly what is called " Tai Bling "
(ไทยเบิ้ง) a mixture of Siamese and Eastern Laos.
          I had been to Ban Sra-bote once before, that was 19 years
ago, when out hunting a gang of robbers who were operating in that
part of the country. On that occasion most of the Puyaibans and
some of the villagers joined me for the latter part of the hunt. Four
or five of them, now old men, came to pay me a visit in the Sala,
where I camped, and we spent a pleasant hour recalling some of the
incidents from that time, the last two days hot foot pursuit and the
final fight in the jungle, when the gang was broken up.
          In the Kamnan of Ban Sra-bote I found a man who did
know something about the country outside his own district, he not
only knew the names of most villages in the neighbouring districts
but also the roads to them and the approximate distances. And now
it was that I discovered that although there was a road from
Ban Sra-bote to Bua Chum, which a man could walk in two days,
it was no good to me because bullock-carts could not use it, it
ran through to hilly country, and I would have to make a detour
towards the north.
          I left Ban Sra-bote early the next morning and continued
straight north for about 6 kilometres, the whole way practically
through paddy-fields, and arrived at Mahapawt a village of about
50 houses. Here it became necessary to get a guide, none of my
men had ever been further along this way.

 

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          When a guide had been engaged and breakfast eaten, we
continued the march and now turned gradually towards the north-
east.   The road soon entered jungle, this time pure red-wood jungle
(ป่าแดง): hitherto the jungle had been mixed and there had been a
good deal of bamboo. The road led towards some small hills, and
the soil gradually became poor and very stony, at places there were
outcrop of sond rock, and for long stretches the road was simply
a mass of cobbles and fragments of rock, and it must have been very
hard on the bullocks feet, and I wondered the cart-wheels were not
broken. The loose stones and pieces of rock lying about were very
heavy and probably were mostly ironstone. In the hot weather
this kind of jungle is very dreary and uninteresting.
          We came in amongst the hills. They were small but steep,
the largest was on my left hand : it is called Kao Nang Dagon. Some
years ago a woman was caught in a jungle fire on this hill and
unable to escape she was burned to death. On the right hand there
were several smaller ones, the nearest one called Kao Hin Mat.
Further on the hills opened out and surrounded a small oval valley,
perfectly flat and with good soil. At one end of this valley was Ban
Rung-kae, where I intended to camp. On arriving at the village I
found it to consist of only a dozen small ramshackle huts, huddled
together in filthy surroundings and with no fences. The people
were a miserable and diseased looking lot, living in awful squalor.
          I looked in vain for a suitable camping ground, out in the
open there was not a single tree, not a spot of shade to be found,
and the sun was blazing hot. Just behind the village, along a dry
creek-bed, there was jungle, but it was impenetrable bamboo and
scrub-jungle. Then the Puyaiban said there was a place with shady
trees and good water a very short distance further on, and so we
proceeded. The "very short distance" turned out to be 3 kilometres,
but the camping ground was good enough, there was sufficient shade
and. in some fairly large rock-basins, in the otherwise dry creek-bed,
was plentv of water. This water was of a slightly brownish tinge
from vegetable matter, but it was clear and very cold.
          During the next couple of days I came to several such places,
where water had been held back in the dry creek-bed, this water was

 

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always fairly clear and very cold.
          This place where I camped is called Wang Samnak. From it
stretches a long low hill which encloses the Rung-kae vally on the
north-east and north. One of the smaller hills, to the south of the
valley, is shaped somewhat like a slightly flattened out cone, the top
is prolongated into a pike. The people in Rung-kae declare that this
pike is pure iron : if that is so, it must be a magnificent lightning
conductor.   The name of the hill is Kao Lack Kai.
          This days march was a good twenty kilometres, and very hot
it had been.
          The next morning we started at the usual time, just at
day-break, and for the first 8 kilometres, the road which now
led straight east, ran through country similar to that of
the previous day. The soil was very poor and very stony, at many
places the solid rock came to the surface. I then came to Sra Pleng,
where we stopped for breakfast. This is a marshy place with two
or three waterholes and some evergreen jungle surrounding it. Just
before we arrived there, I had seen fresh tracks of a fairsized tiger,
and I also saw a barking-deer ; at Sra Pleng there was a few green
pigeons. This was the first game I had seen so far, although on the
march from Toranee to Kok Samrong jungle-fowl were frequently
calling in the jungle. There were quite a number of tracks round
Sra Pleng, mostly of pig, and bones of pig and barking-deer were
lying about near old fireplaces where hunters had cooked their game.
          From Sra Pleng the country changed, we came first through
some ordinary mixed jungle and then out on a plain, perfectly flat,
with long grass and only a few trees. Towards the south was a
couple of small hills and to the north, running from west to east,
was a creek, at this time dry : the banks were covered with thick
jungle, beyond that was probably more open plain.
          The soil was good and the place seemed ideal for paddy-
cultivation. By making inquiries later, I learned that attempts had
indeed been made of making paddy-fields here, but the country was
so feverish that the people could not live there, and the attempt had
to be given up.

 

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          After 5 kilometres march over this good soil I came to Wang
Kem, another all year water-hole, lying in dense jungle. Here we
crossed the dry creek-bed and continued again through fairly open
and flat country, sparsely covered with jungle, till we came to Yang-
rak : here had been a small village, Ban Yangrak, but it was deserted
some time ago owing to the people suffering so much from fever.
Of the village nothing remains, and only a few fruit trees show
the site. We had now crossed into the Ampoe-district Vichien, in
the province of Petchabun, Pitsanuloke Circle. During the day
I met some travellers, they came from Vichien and were carrying
Sambhar horns, still in velvet, bones of tiger and leopard and
peacocks tails, which they were taking to the market at Ban Mee
railway station to sell to Chinese traders there.
          I had come 16 kilometres, and as the guide did not know the
road further on and could not say where water was to be found,
I thought it best to camp here. There were several water holes in the
dry creek-bed, the first and largest one was found to be the home of
crocodiles, so another one, a few hundred yards further on was selec-
ted, and here we camped under a couple of big shady trees in the edge
of the strip of dense jungle which grew along both banks of the
creek.
          The soft earth round the water-hole was simply pitted with
tracks of animals, mostly pig and deer, partridges were calling, and
just before sunset the hideous cry of peacock was heard from every
direction: we had come into country where game was plentiful.
The cartinen were afraid their bullocks might attract tigers
during the night, so a couple of big fires were kept going.
          The next day we continued through similar country, mostly
flat open jungle. We passed several water holes in the dry creek-bed,
most of them seemed to be inhabited by crododiles, at one fairly
large water-hole three of the brutes were lying on the bank, at our
approach they plunged into the water.
          After a morning's march of 10 kilometres we came to a village
called Ban Sra Kruat : this is a newly established village with less
than a score of houses, close by is a mound, evidently made by man,
on which is part of the foundation of a small temple (bote), all in

 

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latérite blocks, a few more latérite blocks are scattered about on the
slopes of the mound, and that is all. The people said it was very-
old, which was quite obvious, but they could give me no information
about it.
          After breakfast we continued on our way, came over large
paddy-fields and a lot of newly broken land : it seems to be indus-
trious people who have settled at Ban Sra Kruat. We passed
another village of only half-a-dozen houses, and just after midday
we came to the river Prasak at a place where it could be forded.
          At this place the river was very narrow, and, as the water
was at its lowest, the steep, almost perpendicular banks were very
high, at least 30 feet. A cut had been made in both banks and even
then the crossing was not easy, without the cuts carts could not
have crossed at all.
          Just before we came to the crossing, about a dozen carts had
arrived on the opposite bank and were making preparations to cross,
so my carts outspanned and we interestedly watched the proceedings.
          All the carts had outspanned on the level ground, the bullocks
of the first cart were then led through the cut down to the water, a
rawhide rope was attached to the cart and snubbed round a con-
venient tree, the cart was then let down the cut, half-a-dozen men
steadying it while the rest of the men paid out on the rope. When
the cart reached the water the bullocks were put in and took the
cart across to the other bank, then the rope was attached to the
front of the cart and with a few of the men pushing the rest
pulling on the rope and the bullocks putting their weight into the
yoke, the carts were hauled up through the cut to level ground.
          It was fortunate for us that we came just when these other
carts were crossing, for we had no rope and were not prepared
for such a difficult crossing. Now we not only borrowed the rawhide
rope, but everybody gave a helping hand and we got the carts across
without any trouble.
          The crossing of all these carts had taken almost the whole of
the afternoon, so we camped in the jungle on the east bank.
          The country we came through the next day was of a nature
one does not often see in this part of Siam.   It was like a rough

 

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park, slightly undulating grass-land dotted with small coppices and
single big trees, Tracks of various kind of deer and of pig were
everywhere and one of my men saw a couple of " Lamang ". Later
on we saw several herds of cattle and buffaloes, shortly after
9 o clock we came to paddy-fields, and about a half an hour later
arrived at Ban Na-ta-krut.
          This is a well built and clean kept village of about a hundred
houses, surrounded by extensive paddy-fields, but strange to say
built over 2 kilometres from the river, and therefore with a none
too good water supply in the dry weather. The people are "Tai Büng",
and I think, with a good deal of Khmer blood mixed.
          The   country   round   Ban Na-ta-krut   is   full of   game   such   as
Wild  cattle  (วัวป่าแดง) several   kind   of   deer   and   pig.  Two days before
I arrived, one of the villagers shot a magnificent bull, I saw the head
and the skin, and the day I camped there, several of them came
in from the jungle carrying loads of flesh of wild pig. I bought
sufficient for the whole camp.
          So far the journey had been easy enough, and although parts
of the road could not be considered anything but a very indifferent
cart-road, still the carts had managed to get along all right. But
now we were faced with difficulties. It appeared that there was no
cart-road from Ban Na-ta-krut to Bua Chum, there had been one,
but for the last six years it had not been used by carts and had
therefore been overgrown with jungle and disappeared. But then
there was the river : it is true the water was very low, but by using
small boats there would be no difficulty in getting to Bua Chum by
river. So the Kamman was asked to arrange about hiring boats. To
begin with, he proved to be about the most unsatisfactory man to
deal with, he knew nothing, could give no information at all, he did
not know if there were anybody in his commune who owned boats,
in fact he was completely useless : so he was sent away, and I sat down
to eat breakfast. When that important function was over, I found
that the Kamnan had returned, and in the very short space of time
he had been away, his intelligence and knowledge had increased in
the most marvellous  manner.    He now informed me that there

 

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were quite a number of boats belonging to the village, most of them
however were away, but there were three left which I could have,
he would make all the arrangements with the owners, so that was
settled.
          Three boats was exactly what I needed. These boats are small
with but little space for men and baggage, each boat is manned by
two men who row with a sway fore and aft if the water is deep
enough, otherwise they pole.
          I thought however that I had better see the owners, and settle
the payment question with them myself, so I sent for them : there were
two of them and one owned two boats.
They were quite willing to take me to Bua Chum or further
on to Chaipadan, or even down the whole way to Kengkoi, if I so
wished. This was exactly what I did wish : so I was very pleased, the
payment question was also satisfactorily arranged, and so the men
were asked to make arrangements to start as early as they could
the next day. But now the bottom fell out, the boats were not in
working order, one had just been sunk in order to close up the seams
as it was leaking badly, and it would be of no use for some days,
another was on shore undergoing repairs which would take another
four or five days, the third one was the only one which was ready to
start at once, but one boat was no use, and I had neither time nor
any fancy for staying in Ban Na-ta-krut for several days.
          My cart-men, who were anxious to continue to Chaipadan,
because from there they could get back straight across country to
their homes in three days, instead of having to return the long
roundabout way we had come, now went into the village to see what
information they could get about the old cart-road.
          The intelligence they brought back was not very encouraging,
it might perhaps be possible to take the carts through, but it would
be slow and very troublesome work. However they were quite willing
to risk it, so I gladly accepted their offer to go on. They had a
pickaxe in one of the carts and I had a couple of heavy jungle
chopping knives, so we procured a couple of hoes and a raw hide
rope, also engaged a guide and were then ready to start next day.

 

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          The next morning we made the usual early start and for a
couple of hours we had no great difficulty in getting along. Then
we came to a dry water-course with very steep banks, called
Huey Wang Nam. Here we had to cut the banks down on both
sides, and a lot of debris had to be cleared away. It took well over
an hour's hard work to get the carts across, then after a short rest
we continued the march.
          Now there was no sign of any cart-tracks and the carts had
to cut their way through where best they could : it was slow work
and hard, it had become extremely hot. About 2 o'clock we came
out on to the bank of the river, at a place called Huey Wai, here we
camped. How the tired men enjoyed a dip in the river ! We had
come a little over 10 kilometres, a short march but a hard one, the
whole way had been through thick mixed jungle with many large
trees of various kinds.
          From this camp the country became more open and the go-
ing easier, only here and there was it necessary to do some cutting,
but of a cart-track there were no signs ; we came through some big,
open spaces with only few trees and good soil, which seemed ad-
mirably suited for cultivation.
          At 8 o'clock we came to Huey Keng Pak, a deep water-
course which forms the boundary between the provinces of Petcha-
bun and Saraburi.
          Here we stopped for breakfast, and then set about to get the
carts across. The water-course was dry, but it was deep and
the banks were steep, so it was no mean task. Through one bank
a cut had to be made and that took time, also a good deal of debris
had to be cleared away. Then the empty carts were lowered down
to the bottom with a rope and again hauled up on the other side, the
bullocks were led across and all the baggage had to be carried over
and again loaded on the carts. It took us a good two hours to
get across. After this it was much better going, only at one or two
places was it necessary to use the chopping knives, and we soon found
some sort of a cart-track. As we got along, this track improved and
eventually developed into a quite respectable çart-road.

 

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          The country was fairly open and perfectly flat with good soil,
but there was no sign of any cultivation anywhere. I was later
informed that the reason this land is not cultivated is that every
year in the rainy season, when the river is in flood, it is inundated to
a depth of 10 to 12 sok. If a canal was made from this point, or
better from a point higher up the river, to take the surplus water
over to the Lopburi river, it seems that a large tract of land could be
put under cultivation. But perhaps there are natural obstacles
which forbid the making of such a canal.
          It had become very hot : everyday the march had been hot,
but to-day was the worst. At times the heat was almost unbearable,
halts of a few minutes duration had to be made whenever a bit
of shade was to be found, but the jungle was deciduous and there
was not much shade. Just after midday Huey Ta-klaw was reached,
this is a small water-course, dry at this time of year but surrounded
by bamboo-jungle. So here was shade and half an hour's halt was
made, then on again under a blazing burning sun.
          We had water with us, but on a march like this, it is better
not to drink anything before it becomes absolutely necessary, having
once taken a drink of water one feels a much stronger craving for
it afterwards : my men knew this too, so abstained as long as they
possibly could. My dog seemed to be most affected by the heat,
when we left Huey Ta-klaw I put him on one of the carts, but he
would not stay there, so. I had to let him trot along with me. It
was easy to see that he was feeling very distressed, and I think that
if it had not been for the relief he got, when I occasionally poured a
little water over his head, he would not have been able to follow.
          We plodded wearily on, the country became more open still.
Away towards the west we could see the belt of thick jungle and
big forest trees in which ran the Prasak river. The soil now was
stony and gravelly. We came past some big marshy places, over-
grown with long grass, and we saw several herds of cattle, but Bua
Chum seemed as far away as ever.
          At last we came to paddy-fields and thought that now we
had reached our goal, but we had not, this was only a patch of
outlying fields.   However we drew nearer to the river, and at long

 

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last saw a house in the outskirts of the jungle, the most welcome
sight we had seen that day.
          And so we came to Bua Chum, and were soon sitting in the
sala at the Wat, drinking water. I think I had almost a bucket full,
the water seemed to soak through my whole body, bringing a sense
of well being.
          It was 4 o'clock, we had only come about 16 kilometres,
though it seemed twice as much, it had been the hardest day's march
of the whole tour, the heat had been terrific.
          I may here mention that since I left Kok Samrong, the days
had been very hot while the nights were very cold, so cold that the
men had fires going the whole night, close to which they slept, and
I found that two blankets were not always enough. Very unhealthy
weather, most of us were suffering from colds, and if I had not given
the men quinine at regular intervals, I think we should have had
fever too.
          Bua Chum is an old place but there is very little left to show
its age. The present village consists of about 140 houses. The
temple is simply an unsightly, very roughly built wooden shanty,
placed on the foundation of a much older buidling. Inside are a
number of small Buddhas of various sizes and description, all of them
more or less damaged. There is however a pair of carved doors
which may perhaps be of interest archaeologically, they are very
well carved and in good preservation : the carving represents two
human figures, they have Chinese features, but their dress and in
particular their trousers and shoes seems to show Indian origin, one
is holding a Malay kriss and the other a spear.
          In the jungle on the river-bank, close to the village, is
another similar hideous wooden Bote, built on an old site. This
Bote contains some modern made statues of Buddha and also two
square blocks of sandstone, with beautifully sculptured figures at
the corners and on three sides. I could not find out what they had
been used for, but they were perhaps footpieces for statues which
had been placed close to a wall, as they were roughsurfaced on the
fourth side.

 

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          Some distance from Bua Chum, towards the east are the sites
of other old towns, Muang Nong-yai-daw and Muang Poendin-tong.
The villagers declared that there was nothing to see there, and as it
was to much out of my way, I did not go to these places. But to
my great regret I now discovered that at Ban Na-ta-krut I had
missed the best of all. Only between 2 and 3 kilometres east of the
village are  the   ruins  of  an  ancient  city  called   Muang   Apai-
salee (เมืองอภัยสาลี). The people of Bua Chum who pretended to
know about the place, said there were ruins of buildings and walls
and that broken statuary was lying about in the jungle. The
account they gave me seemed exaggerated, but was corroborated by
the guide and another man who had come with me from Ban
Na-ta-krut.
          It was not blessings I, in my thoughts, sent the people of
Bun Na-ta-krut, not one of them had mentioned a word about this
to myself or any of my men, when I was in their village. However,
it could not be helped, to go back was out of the question, so after
having spent the next day in Bua Chum, I continued my south-ward
journey on Friday the 13th of February.
          From Bua Chum to Chaipadan the road is quite good. About
5 kilometres from Bua Chum I came to the village of Ta-chang. It is
a new village, only five years old, with 15 houses only, but more
land is being broken to make paddy-fields, and in a few years time
there will probably be quite a big village. It is always a pleasure
to see waste land come under cultivation.
          At this place two other roads join the Bua Chum road, one
comes from Korat and the other from Chayapum : there is a
very considerable traffic on these two roads, mainly with cattle
and buffaloes which come from the eastern provinces to be sold
in central Siam. It is estimated that about 20,000 head come
this way every year. They continue on the left bank of the
river down to Tah Sam Long about 18 kilometer south of Bua
Chum ; here they cross the river and then follow several roads to-
wards the south and southwest until they are are sold at Saraburi,
Lopburi or Tarua, many of the buffaloes going still further, even
down to Klong Rangsit.

 

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          From Ta-chang the road more or less followed the river, the
jungle was fairly open and towards the east could be seen the high-
lands in Korat Circle.
          I met several herds of cattle and buffaloes on their way
south, and also one or two parties of men who had sold their cattle
and were now on their way back to their homes, but as a rule these
people use the railway to Korat on their return-journey.
          We crossed the river at Tah Sam Long without much trouble,
and camped on the right bank.
          The next day I did a non-stop march of 12 kilometres through
open country with a couple of small villages close to the river, in to
Chaipadan, arriving there just after 9 a. m; the carts came at
mid-day.
          Chaipadan lies on the west bank of the Prasak river, where
the river forms a sharp bend. It is only a smallish place, but it is
the headquarters of the district of the same name.
          The people are not prosperous, they seldom get a very
plentiful paddy crop, but even if rice at times is scarce they
need not starve. The surrounding country is full of game,
there is even elephant, tiger and bison. Three or four years ago a
full-grown tiger was shot on the village street, and on a former
occasion, when I stayed in Chaipadan three days, a party
of hunters had gone a short distance up river, the day before I ar-
rived, to hunt on the east-bank. They were so close that we some-
times heard the shots, and the evening before I left they returned:
they had shot eight Sambhar.
          Now, on the present occasion, I thought that I would like to
get some venison, so I engaged two hunters to try and get me
some. They asked me what I would like, and I said whatever they
could get, but that I would like best of all either barking-deer or
wild pig : so the next day they went out, and returned in the after-
noon with a barking deer. The following day they did the same,
so I had plenty venison ; what was not eaten fresh the men dried
over fire, and they had enough not only to last them the rest of the
journey but also a basket-full to take home with them. This how-
ever disappeared during the train journey from Kengkoi to Ayudhya.

 

                                                           (164)

 

          From Chaipadan I was to continue the journey by boat, so
the cart-men and carriers were paid off. They were very pleased
that they had been able to come the whole way to Chaipadan, now
they could get back to their homes in three days. They even thought
they could do it in two with their empty carts and by travelling
part of the night.
          They gave their bullocks a rest the next day, which they
hardly seemed to need; they were fine beasts and in good condition
in spite of the hard trip they had. Then in the evening the cart-men
and carriers came to say good-bye to me, they were starting shortly
after midnight, when the half-moon had risen. More willing and
cheerful transport I have never had.
          Now came the business of getting boats for the journey from
Chaipadan to Kengkoi. It had to be small boats the so called "rua pin
ma", for the. river was very low and there were several rapids. None
of these are dangerous, the difficulty lies more in their shallowness.
          The day I arrived there were no boats in Chaipadan in a
state fit to be used, but the next day two came up with merchandise
for one of the three Chinese shops which comprise the bazaar in
Chaipadan. One of them was a roomy very shallow-draft boat
which could easily hold all my baggage and take the men too, the
other one was an ordinary small rua pin ma just sufficient for myself,
a servant and provender for the day. So these two boats were
engaged for the journey, which was estimated to take five days, but
actually only took three-and-a-half, and a start was made in the
early morning on Tuesday the 17th of February.
          Travelling in a " rua pin ma " is about the most uncom-
fortable way I know of. The boats are covered with a barrel-roof
made of attap or bamboo plaiting, this is not sufficient protection
against the sun, so it is necessary to wear a topee, by sitting on the
bottom-boards there is just enough head-room to do this. Of course
one can vary the position and lie down now and again, but in any
case one is sore all over by the end of a days journey.
This particular boat was leaking badly, so every couple of
hours or so, when the water had reached the bottom-boards, it was
necessary to stop, the boat was bailed and the owner, an old grey

 

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beard, and his middle-aged spinster daughter, who was his crew, got
busy caulking the leaking seems with clay, of which a good supply
was carried for that particular purpose.
          However, we got along quite all right and did a very good
day's journey, passed the landing place belonging to Kok-sa-lung, a
big village built on an ancient site two kilometres from the river,
passed the big village Lan Makok Wan, lying on banks, and the
smaller Ban Bük on the east bank only, and just before 6 o'clock we
we came to a sand-bank called King Kon Huet : here we camped.
The river had been shallow most of the way, but we came through
no rapids that day and had no difficulties.
          The next day there was plenty of rapids, but most of them
were very small, hardly deserving the name, and none of them pre-
sented any difficulties, we also passed several villages, some of them
situated on both banks. At sunset we camped on a narrow sand-
bank, Hat Khun Wichan: there was barely room to put up the tent.
          From this camp on the country changed in character, hitherto
it had been flat and covered with dense jungle and big trees, and
here is also the forest (ป่าลาน) where the palm-trees grows, from the
leaves of which pali-books are made; the collection of these leaves,
which takes place every year in the dry weather, is a Government
monopoly. But now lime-stone began to crop up, the river banks
in many places were full of jutting out rocks, and small lime-stone
hills were dotted about; the jungle was mostly bamboo.
          We came past several villages and camped as usual at sunset,
this time on a fine big sand-bank called Hat Ta Sao.
          The next morning, half-an-hour after the start, we came
to Kao Tam Phra. This a perpendicular rock-wall at a hair
pin bend of the river, it is, I suppose, a couple of hundred
feet high. About 50 feet up there is a round opening in the rock,
the entrance to the cave. From the waters edge there is a
rather difficult climb to where the actual rock-wall begins, and from
here the cave is reached by a bamboo ladder. I climbed up to the
cave, it is only a small round chamber, containing a few fragments
of Buddha figures.

 

                                                          (166)

 

          From here on, and practically the whole way to Kengkoi,
the river scenery was very pretty, the river is fairly broad and the
high, jungle-clad banks show many pretty and fantastic lime-stone
formations.
          Early in the after-noon we came through the Kengkoi rapid,
which is the biggest of the lot, and, as its name shows, often diffi-
cult to get through. However it gave us no trouble, and we tied
up to the landing place behind the market and the railway station
just in time to hear the departure of the last south-going train. So
I had to put up my tent once more.
          The next morning I left Kengkoi by the first train and re-
turned to Ayudhya.   That was Saturday the 21st of February.
         Coming down the Prasak river, I did not meet with much
traffic, of course only small boats can be used at this time of the
year, and what traffic there is is mostly from village to village. But
in the rains there is quite an important traffic on the river with big
cargo-boats which come down from Lomsak and Petchabun, with
country-products, such as hides, lac, etc., and return from Bangkok
fully laden with merchandise.
          From Lomsak to Petchabun these large boats take two days,
from Petchabun to Bangkok about fifteen days. The return-journey
is of course much slower, generally 35 to 40 days to Petchabun and
another 4 or 5 on to Lomsak. These boats generally do two trips in
a season, a few manage to do three.
          In conclusion I may say that the journey is interesting, but
it is by no means a pleasure trip, and February is not the most
suitable time to undertake it, the month of December would be
better.
                                                           Ayudhya, 9th September 1925.

 

 

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