Take me to the river

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Front Page -

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,

Pic­tures: Asian Oa­sis

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

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