Take me to the river
of their names. The starter is goon moo sab followed by tom yam goong. The main course is gaeng know wan gai and nuea num mon hai.
Afterwards I retire to the boat’s bar where the steward is mixing cocktails. He has his own problems. He cannot decide if he should be a monk or a kickboxer. A life of spiritual enlightenment has its appeal but in terms of a proper career there is probably more to be said for kicking people in the head for large sums of money. Rather shaken by the depravity of my past lives, I advise celibacy and submission. The captain, however, feels professional violence is the way to go. It is, he says, a profession with a future.
In the morning I find the captain sticking lighted incense into the garlands of jasmine that hang from the bow and throwing bits of breakfast into the river. The incense is for the spirit of the boat; the breakfast is for the water goddess. Anything to keep the old girl happy,’’ he mutters.
We push out on to a grey, still surface. Along the banks the houses stand on stilts above the water’s edge,
Uncrowded waterway: The restored rice barges of the Mekhala fleet provide an enjoyably old-fashioned means of travelling to, and moving around, a city once known as the Venice of the East
Well-crafted comfort: The interior of the Mekhala