KaoHong Market And Museum
The Tha Chine River is the setting for this market, established by a Chinese merchant over a century ago, with a five storey surveillance tower of historical significance. The market comprises of mainly two storey wooden structures, and is also a heritage museum.
Kaohong Market and Museum
The Kao Hong market was once a bustling riverine market of the Suphan Buri River or the Ta Chin River area. But when waterborne communication and transportation ceased to principally be part of the major trade route, the market consequently began to be slowly dying out, leaving behind but remnants of the prosperous past – the large wooden shophouses standing along the river banks. The present day market is far from being as busy as before. Some old residents, nevertheless, are still there and are trying to revive the trades so that hopefully the market could become a tourist destination similar to the nearby Sam Chuk market. Part of the efforts was to set up a nine-shophouse (Kao Hong) museum to attract tourists who might be interested to learn about the famous market of the old days. The museum derived its name from the residence of Khoon Kamhaeng, a nobleman who had across from the market a very large Thai-style house, the size of nine shophouses altogether. The story about this particular house is that every time the owner was thinking about reducing or increasing its size, there happened always to have a fire incident. So the house has retained its nine-shophouse size until today. To have a look at it is easy – one simply has to look across to the other side of the market. In some later time a Chinese tradesman named Mr. Hong or Boonrod Liangpanich who after marrying Khun Pae, Khoon Kamhaeng’s daughter, built a house or rather a floating shophouse for doing business, right in front of the Kao Hong house. Soon after that came a time when robbers were plenty in the area. The floating shop was plundered and Khun Pae killed. So Mr. Hong conceived the idea of moving up ashore. He himself drew up the market plan. The market thus became what it is today. Mr. Hong married again. His second wife was Mrs. Somchine. At present the Liangpanich descendants still own the market and continue to collect rent. An evidence piece left of the owners’ efforts to protect themselves against the robbers and thieves is the robber watch tower erected to safeguard the market. The Kao Hong market actually comprises 3 markets: the upper market, the middle market, and the lower market. The museum is situated in the lower market area, the original marketplace. It occupies only one shophouse. The Kao Hong Market Development Committee has rented and turned it into a museum of the Kao Hong community members. The rent is only three hundred baht a month. The display in the front area shows old photographs of the local people here. The fading colors bring back old memories. The photos of the fairs and festivals organized by the community people were given to the museum by the families. They were all put in the same frame. The wall decorations, or the paintings, were done by the Fine Arts College of Suphan Buri, they had come here to observe and perpetual the activities and the things that made news about the market before it was developed and changed into a tourist place.
The magnificent things in the museum are the livelihood tools and instruments used by the locals. They serve to narrate the stories of the market’s past glory. Starting from the left hand side, there are baskets, bags, market baskets. Some display objects are very rare things such as a small sugarcane squeezer made of wood, a stacked up coconut grater set consisting of three different sizes of large, medium, and cute little ones. Then there are the utensils for making lod chong (a Thai iced dessert) and kui noo (a dessert made of flour and grated coconut), wooden pencils, bamboo containers, market baskets, and different-sized jars. In the middle there is a living room furniture set. Showcases of ancient currencies and coins are also there. More are old-fashioned radio sets, television sets with bodies made of wood, and tables in different styles and types. To the right are old day’s household utensils such as fans, charcoal irons, flasks, elephant bells (gifts from some Kao Hong market shop owners whose ancestors used to keep elephants to do some work), abacus, wooden molds for making white bean curd, and a blacksmith’s inflator. The second floor of the shophouses had to be turned into bedrooms, having in them old-fashioned four-poled beds and light, Thai-style window curtains realistically spread over – like a real house where there actually were some people living in. A visit to Khao Hong market is worthwhile if one walks all around the three markets: upper, middle, and lower. One would be impressed with the sheer size of this huge, wooden market, and the fact that the local folks are still doing their business selling many kinds of Thai desserts uniquely available here only. A view of this market from the top is also possible from the “robber watch” tower. From there one gets a clear, wide-angled view of the whole market on the other side. Very impressive too is the local wisdom used in making watch holes big enough as well for gun points to be stuck into them, making it possible to aim and shoot at the robbers. Khun Siripan Tansakda, President of the Kao Hong Market Development Committee, added that other than the museum displays, visitors can enjoy seeing more things in some local people’s houses or personal museums. There are lots of all old things in greater numbers than in some actual museums. Khun Siripan also would love to welcome more visitors on Saturdays and Sundays too so that the Kao Hong market will be more lively.
KaoHong is close enough to Bangkok, to allow for a day trip.
Visit the museum, circulate through the stalls and sample the local delicacies.
All year round.
Take highway 3351 out of Bangkok, and approximately 6km before Suphan Buri, KaoHong market is signposted, taking you across a bridge over the Tha Chine River.