Friday, December 28, 2012

Bangkok's Amazing Floating Market

 After a short drive from the Maekloong Railway Market, we found ourselves at our next destination.  Here we would take a little break, have some refreshing cold water and wait for a longboat to take us to the Bangkok Floating Market.  We were served some fresh fruit and cold water while we waited our turn to board a boat.

There is a very nice waiting area here with clean restrooms and a very nice gift shop, specializing in leather, snakeskin and alligator bags, belts, etc.  There was also a small boy with his pet Boa, which he offers to let you hold for $100 Baat.

I had never held a large snake, and since I was crossing off bucket list items, this was next on the list!

 This was one BIG snake, and heavy, but not at all aggressive.  He was quite smooth to the touch and not at all difficult to hold.  So, here I am with another item crossed off my list.  Glad I did it!  May never have this opportunity again.
 Soon our personal longboat arrived and we were off down the canal to investigate the Floating Market. Although the market is now mostly a tourist attraction, this was originally a way of life for the locals.  Damnoen Saduak is the most popular floating market in Thailand, great for photo opportunities, food, and for giving you an insight into a bygone way of life. An early morning start is worth it to avoid the heat and catch Damnoen Saduak at its liveliest. Most visitors who come to Thailand want to visit a floating market and many of them will end up here. Don’t let that put you off though, it’s an enjoyable morning out of the city and if you avoid the tourist shops you can get a real sense of the place. The market is over an hour outside Bangkok and it was nice to have a Driver and Tour Guide of our own, but bus tours are also available to this area.

 The boats each have an engine with its' prop mounted on a long metal rod, which bounces out of the water at intervals as the noise disturbs the quiet and the boat glides down the narrow canals. There are small wooden houses on stilts clinging to the banks, some with larger ponds than lawns. As our boat driver slows down to let us appreciate the winding waterways and get a brief glimpse of those who live on the river, we can only imagine how the market was before the tourist invasion, when locals did most of their shopping here.  The houses lining the banks have their gardens out back where they grow lots of local produce.  There are mangoes, bananas and so much more offered for sale.   While the market may feel overcrowded at first glance, both visitors and sellers bring noise and color to the area.

 Here is a sign on one of the first commercial buildings we see as we enter the market proper.

 Soon we are in the market area and the haggling and shopping begin!

Individuals are selling their goods from the boats lining the canals, as well as from the stalls which line the canals in this area.

There is everything you can possibly imagine for sale in this area, from clothing to all kinds of fresh vegetables and street food.  So much to take in!  I purchased some spices which were nicely packaged from one of the vendors.  They were spices which are extremely expensive in the states and sometimes difficult to come by like Saffron and Cardamon Pods.
 It is quite amazing to watch the people with gas burners cooking/frying and preparing foods for sale from their boats which are bouncing around in the canal.

 We didn't buy any fresh fruit while at the market, but we did try some yummy fried bananas.  Interesting, but not something I would do to my healthy bananas at home!
 Sodas anyone?  As you can see, a lot of these things are pitched to the tourists now, and this former way of living for the local people, has now become a cash flow of tourist dollars.

Originally the locals did all their own shopping and trading in these canals.  Many of the locals still raise their own vegetables and fruits to sell at the market, but many of the goods are souvenirs for the tourists.

 Boat Jam!  Things can get a bit backed up when a boat or two stops to make a purchase on the narrow canal between the stalls on the side.  Beep beep!
 This little lady is hawking her wares for sale...cute isn't she?
 Traveling further down the canal, things open up a bit.
 Here you can see some of the canal side stalls and how they display their wares for sale!
 As we pass further along, we begin to see the homes where the people live, and how they are perched right along the canal.  Their "yards" or gardens are out behind the homes, and their boats are stored most of the time on lifts in front of the houses.

 A view of how the people live along the canals.  There are all types of homes perched on stilts above the river.  Some are just one large room and others are quite elaborate.
This is the most typical type of home along the canal...and it is just one large room in which the family lives, sleeps and cooks.

It is a simple way of life, but the Thai people seem to be a contented lot, and these people who live along the canals share their goods with each other.  Your have bananas?  I have fish! Let's trade!

We made a few purchases at the market that day.  It was a very enjoyable visit, and I would recommend it for anyone interested in learning more about the Thai people and how they live.  Just make sure you have a knowledgeable guide so that they can share accurate information with you.

Next up ---  A Coconutty Experience, Orchid Farm and Salt Fields!

GOD BLESS - Peace, Love and Joy!

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