For those of you who are finding that Amphawa Floating Market is becoming too crowded and touristy, then I recommend that you step back in time by staying overnight in one of the many homestays that can be found along Amphawa Canal. In the olden days, before roads and cars, these canals were the lifeline of the local villagers.
The first markets were floating markets as people came together on their boats to buy and sell. Other vendors would row up and down the canals selling direct to people in front of their houses. Monks would also leave their temples by boat and row along the canals on their early morning alms round. You don’t often get a chance to see this being practised these days so it is great that it has been revived at Amphawa.
The monks leave their temple before dawn. At the homestay where I spent the night, the owner came and knocked on my door at 6 a.m. to say that the monks would pass our pier soon. About three or four other people sat on the wide verandah waiting for the monks to come. We were lucky that our homestay was right on the water’s edge so the monks would pass right by us. The first monks came into view about ten minutes later.
The Thais at my homestay politely called out to the monk to come over so that they could make merit. Some of the monks had people rowing for them while others were alone. After the Buddhists had made merit, the monk gave them a short blessing. Even if you are not making merit yourself, it is a peaceful experience just to watch. Most people made merit with about three or four monks.
I stayed watching them for a while then went for a walk along the canal. Compared to the hustle and bustle of the previous night it was such a delight to stroll along the toll-path. It was virtually deserted. The only boats on the water belonged to the monks or vendors selling breakfast to the local people and the few tourists that stayed the night. The monks continued to row up and down the canal until about 7:15 a.m. I am really glad that I had got up early to experience this.