Seabourn Club Herald November 2011, V21 N3 : Page 28
FLOATING FINDS Of all the markets in Thailand, the most fascinating and exotic are the floating markets. Bangkok sits on some very low, soggy land along the Chao Phraya River. The various Kings of Siam since the founding of the city in 1782 built a system of canals to drain land and create a network of waterways. While much of that in Bangkok is now under concrete, there are still many places nearby where water transportation is still used. Vendors in boats filled with fresh produce paddle in — often before sunrise — to set up along the canal edges and sell their wares to the locals. Some shoppers also arrive by boat. This is an experience not to be missed. Making a great day trip, Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is Steve V idl er/eStoc k Photo an early-morning drive southwest of Bangkok where the canals come alive with colors, and women wearing straw hats glide their wooden canoes through the water. You can even find gas-powered burners and deep fryers in some of them. Try some fried banana slices and kway tiao reua or “boat noodles,” a soup made with pork or beef (traditionally, water buffalo) and congealed blood (you can ask for that on the side or not at all). A silk vendor at the Chatuchak Weekend Market close to important landmarks. Between Wat Mahathat and the Chao Phraya River, just north of the Grand Palace, is one of the largest amulet markets in town. Tiny figurines of Buddha or important monks enclosed in amulets can be worn on chains around the neck. Don’t be surprised to also see the elephant-headed Hindu deity Ganesh, who brings luck to those seeking employment. A smaller but no less fascinating amulet market is next to the unique Loha Prasat, a Sri Lankan–style temple of metal spires at Wat Ratchanatdaram. Bangkok loves flowers, from the tiny blossoms strung together for offerings to Buddha to big, bright bouquets and arrangements. Vendors are everywhere around the city, but it is at Pak Khlong Talad flower market where all blooms arrive before distribution. The air is fragrant and the market bustles all day and well into the night. Going during the day ensures a more relaxed crowd. Late at night is when the shipments arrive. Nearby in the same neighborhood is a wholesale vegetable market, another sight to see as workers rush fresh food around to fill orders. 28 seabourn club HERALD Seabourn Pride visits Bangkok during 11 voyages in 2012 and 2013. Another floating market alternative is Amphawa Market, which, unlike Damnoen Saduak, doesn’t really get going until a bit later in the day. Still, it is worth getting there early, because just after sunrise, the monks in their bright orange robes will paddle through to collect alms, their meals for the day, brought by the locals down to the water’s edge. Find something to eat — maybe some rice noodles with curry or fresh fried seafood — and have a seat on the short plastic chairs set up along the walkways. This is also far outside the city and makes a popular day trip, especially if you hire a boat captain to experience it. In the evening, visitors gather to watch the fireflies come out before heading back to Bangkok.
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