0036 A Very Cool Stilt City (Thai 003—new)

Surat Thani Travel Blog

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Stilt City

Day 021: 12 hours, 10.3 kms

I arrive  in Surat Thani and at first don’t see anything really special about it.  As I wander about looking for a cheap hotel, all I see are dim, dreary streets with the typical shops and corner massage salons…  I do find a neighbourhood festival going on with a live concert, which is kind of cool, but overall the city doesn’t seem all that interesting.  There are groups of backpackers crammed into little travel agencies waiting for buses, but it seems like Surat Thani is more of a jumping off point rather than a destination itself. 

Finally I settle on a decent hotel… but once I reach my room, I feel that I shouldn’t give up on the town quite so quick, so I head out once more in another direction to see if I can find something interesting.  Sure enough, I soon happen on a lively “night market” brightly lit and bustling with folks shopping for all sorts of bizarre and not some bizarre foodstuffs… I continue on a bit further and there I find a traditional Thai theatre show going on. I head inside to check it out.  There I get a fascinating first hand glimpse into Thai tradition…  as actors in colourful costumes act out a story which seems to be about good and evil spirits speaking to the main actor… 

So I finally head on home, feeling much better about Surat Thani… but the best is yet to come…

Next Morning

 Next morning I head out to the river to see if I can find a spot to take a video clip.  It’s a huge river with long, skinny boats ferrying people across.  Further down is a beautiful white shrine where folks are coming to offer their gifts…

I decide to hike across the bridge just to see what’s on the other side… At first all I find is a semi rural strip along the river with not a lot to see.

I cross a little bridge,  and suddenly, there it is… one of the coolest discoveries I’ve ever made…

It’s a village--  or should I say, a small city built entirely on stilts over the river.  The “streets”  are narrow concrete or wooden walkways that zigzag between houses, shops, little eateries, and even pool halls perched high above the water… Totally authentic, clearly undiscovered by tourists, it’s just the way that people here live.  I scurry along the gangplanks, thrilled at my discovery and determined to explore every corner of this town.  Locals seem a little surprised and curious--  especially when I end up down a dead end, but not unfriendly in any way…

I head down one “street” and see a couple of not so friendly dogs coming at me.  There’s absolutely no room to maneuver, I can only use my guitar to shield my legs and hope for the best.  But I tell myself, even if I get bitten, this discovery will still be worth it!

Some of the locals dare to drive their scooters along the precarious walkway with very sharp corners and rickety wooden bridges, but the main transportation here are the longboats that taxi people across the river to Surat Thani.  So after a thorough exploration and chilling out for a bit at a little shop, I make my way down the steps to the water and onto a boat…

First he had to stop at a “gas station” where the attendant climbs down a ladder with a jug to “fill ‘er up”…

And so I reach Surat Thani and head on my way, thrilled  with my experiences and discoveries here…

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Stilt City
Stilt City
Surat Thani
photo by: newtampo