Published: June 17th 2012June 17th 2012
Bright and early?? Well, early by my standards, we got a wake up call at 6:15am
so we could get all packed and breakfasted by 7:30
pickup time. We took a small car over to Khao San Road and transferred to a mini-van and picked up several other travelers bound for the floating market about an hour and a half outside of Bangkok.
The trip out was very uneventful - thankfully.
While the traffic is still a bit disconcerting and your driver may occasionally flash a brief look of terror, it all still seems a bit civilized. We drove out toward Damnoen Saduak, south east of Bangkok, and passed some pretty interesting fish farms and rice paddies along the way. It was cool to see some of the traditional dress of the fish farmers - complete with wading boots and full gear. We only had flashes of these sights as we sped past their farms and homes. It was pretty strange to see similar vegetation and some of the exact same trees as those I had gotten used to in Brazil. I need to take a peek around at a map sometime and see if the latitude distances from the
equator between the two countries are similar? Hmmm....
We got to the floating market right along with about a kazillion other tourists - all there to see the same thing - the iconic floating market. The market is part of a dying tradition in Thailand, and the Damnoen Saduak is one of the only "true" floating markets left in the area. The canals of the market are expansive, and one can still float the canals over to the Chao Phraya river and up to Bangkok, 120 kilometers away. It was truly a floating market. While the banks of the canal are lined with shops selling bags, wooden carvings, and mostly the same trinkets as those found lining the streets near our hotel, the market is also home to floating stalls. The waters of the canal are lined with boats moored along the banks - and these small wooden boats sell everything from fried banana pancakes to green jade (glass??) buddha images, to puppets, to chicken satays, to yummy fried spring rolls, to some of the most unusual fruits I've ever seen. I haven't braved the "street food" yet, but I easily talked myself into the freshly prepared spring rolls
out of one of the boats - "boat food"? Yes! It was frightening, however, to see huge vats of boiling oil perched in the middle of these small boats - particularly as the boats are piloted - expertly I will add- by the smallest of paddles. And there could be as many as five-six boats trying to squeeze through the crowded canals at the same time. It was a mix of ramming and scraping at times to get around the canal. All handled tolerantly and gently by our boat captains.
I would suppose that the market is still a tradition for the locals, but as many "traditions" - it has become a market catering for visitors to this exotic land. Should it continue? Should it become part of the history of Thailand, or should it change and adapt as it has? The economy has truly become global, and this small part of central Thailand and it's visitors from all parts of the globe is a testament to that.
There are more photos below