In partnership with Local Alike
Looking for what to do in Bangkok and especially something with locals in Bangkok can be challenging. It is a giant metropolis and it can be difficult to make it past the tourist facing glitz & glamour. We wanted to meet people passionate about their city who could share their insight into what makes their country great. We wanted a Thailand travel guide who could give us the experience of a local community. The truth is, we didn’t want to rely on a tour to give us an authentic travel experience in Bangkok. Consequently, that’s what we needed.
Enter Local Alike. Enjoy our review of Local Alike and follow along on our journey.
We found Local Alike when searching for our elephant tour in Chiang Mai. We quickly realised the breadth of experiences they provided across Thailand. Community-based tourism is a pillar to Local Alike’s mission. This mission follows the overarching initiatives promoted by the tourism industry in Thailand. We were invited to join tour “A Day as a Fisherman“, enjoyed seafood, mud in toes and humbled by what we learned from the people of Santor.
How to get to Santor & what to do near Bangkok
Flying into Bangkok from the ocean side, I pressed my head into the window and gazed down to see a sea of squares (try saying that five times fast).
I notice large rectangular shapes, long skinny shapes and squares. This stretch of the country had no beach, just rice paddies with water in them. Interesting, I thought, and I wondered why they would put their paddies so close to the ocean.
It turns out, the area I flew over was the area I was visiting on this tour, and these squares I saw were not rice paddies, they were aqua farms.
We make the trek out to the coastal community of Santor by three different modes of transportation – a local train, song thaew and the ubiquitous long-tail boat.
Old and rickety, the local train is fairly punctual. The song thaew, a truck built with a canopy and bench seating, can carry up to 10 riders.
The long-tail boat is a longboat, and you would have seen it in every promotional photo of Thailand. In this area, a boat is like your car, the primary mode of transporting goods, people, even building materials.
Santor Community – Spending time with locals in Bangkok
Along the way, I learn about Uncle Sorn who has lived in this area for a long time, witnessing changes in the economic and the natural environment. Before cockle farming, he used his land for salt pans. Due to the rising cost of salt production, he transitioned to cockle farming.
We learned the environment continues to provide additional challenges. Over the past 40 years, the sea has risen 8 meters covering roads and more importantly, farming land. Where Uncle Sorn used to drive to his plot, he now had to take a boat. As we float along in the boat, we see electric poles, no longer carrying electric lines, but covered halfway up with water.
Uncle Sorn greets us when we arrive, an elderly man who, by the looks of his posture, has been a labourer for most his life. He gives us a great big grin while helping tie the boat to the dock and offering his hand to support our little jump between the two.
He warmly welcomes us and gives a quick walk through the property. We see Uncle Sorn’s plot of aquafarms that seem to stretch out all the way to the ocean.
What to expect on a Local Alike tour
I was the kind of kid that had to go outside to play, and sometimes we would return home with dirt, scrapes and some mud all over us. A treasured pastime!
So I was all for jumping into the mud patch and digging up some cockles. Unfortunately, I have no footage to document this! Rest assured I was knee-deep in mud with brackish water up to my collarbone and I had the best time!
Farming cockles requires the farmer to purchase seed, or spat. From here, the cockles can take up to 8-10 weeks to reach market size, which is about the size of a walnut or an avocado seed.
These type of cockles are blood cockles. Thailand introduced varieties of blood cockles, shrimp and oysters in the mid-1970s. An initiative by the government to assess the benefits of aquaculture, better known as seafood farming. Turns out that blood cockles weren’t a good export internationally yet domestically they were growing popularity.
If you’re like me and can’t wait to get into the mud, be sure to pack some clothes you don’t mind throwing out afterwards. Also, water shoes are recommended; stepping on the rough edges of a cockle or oyster will be painful.
What to do in Bangkok? Truly eat like a local.
We sat for lunch after a quick tour of the property. On the menu (no surprises here) an array of seafood.
First, I see cockles, of course. Along with cockles, we had fried fish, steamed shrimp with vegetables, sautéed shrimp with garlic and herbs, and seafood soup.
This soup was delectable with a light fragrant broth covering all sorts of creatures – squid, octopus, mussels, and shrimp. Every ladleful served at least three kinds of seafood, they did not skimp on the meal!
If you love seafood, this is the tour for you.
As we’ve written in our other articles, we travel to experience real, unfiltered everyday life in the places we go because we want to learn from their stories. If you’re looking for what to do in Bangkok and want to have an authentic experience with the locals, Local Alike is your answer.
We spent a day being a cockle farmer and learned about the resilience of the people. Where some would see roadblocks, they saw opportunities for change. Challenged by the elements, the Santor community continues to evolve and change ways of earning income. Now working with Local Alike they can introduce Thai locals and international travellers to experience a day in their life.
If you prefer to travel like us and experience more in Thailand, we highly recommend A Day as a Fisherman with Local Alike.
Price US 103 per person