Over the swampy surface on a night of a waning moon, there are tiny fireflies flashing out lights rhythmically on Lamphu trees, and thus becomes the origin of the firefly tale to lull toddlers to sweet dreams.
I recalled a nostalgic memory from the time when my grandparents were still young. At a garden house by the river, some kids were dipping into the water while some were chasing one another along the ditch in a coconut plantation. At dusk, each household would light kerosene lamps that keep flickering and then sit down in a circle having dinner together. Getting full, everyone started to recline around the waterfront pavilion. The children likewise lay down listening to the myth of fireflies. It is believed that the fireflies are actually the spirit of a man carrying a lamp in search of his love named Lamphu.
The images of houses lining up along the river are possible to be seen right here. Simple and humble Thai way of life fills the banks of Amphawa every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening. The floating market is always packed with vendors and their boats fully loaded with fresh fruit and veggies, drinks, sweets and savories. Food ranges from boat noodles, mussel sprout pancake, grilled squid, traditional coffee and a lot more. Once you finish with the food, take a walk to appreciate wooden houses, which remain in their original antique condition, together with some leftover signposts. When the darkness of the night begins, get on a small boat and slowly paddle in silence. Soon after you may witness little creatures gently producing twinkling beams throughout the thick Lamphu forest. Such an atmosphere with these tiny fireflies makes Amphawa River in a waning moon especially romantic.
From the intersection at the entrance of the floating market, go straight through the traffic lights, cross the bridge and keep going for approximately 500 meters. When you find Lanka temple on your right, turn left and enter the street opposite the temple. At the entrance of that street, there is a landmark worth noticing – a wayside shelter. Walk down that street for another 500 meters, you may reach a riverside bistro located close to a bridge. Although the bistro is nameless, it provides a few strongly recommended dishes; freshly caught dwarf prawns stir fried with holy basils, crispy fried vermicelli, and fried wide rice noodles with meat or vegetable on top.
Another riverside bistro called ‘Phuen’ is situated on the same street as the Lanka temple. It is famous for grilled giant river prawns which are as big as a human arm. These river prawns are caught alive by the locals and later sold to the bistro. Apart from this, sun-dried amberjack and winged bean salad are also recommended dishes.
For your Information
Fireflies are more commonly found in the rainy season. For better visibility, pick a waning moon night when the tide is high.
Amphawa floating market is Thailand’s only evening floating market and it operates only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The market starts at around 15.00 on Fridays, and at noon on weekends.