On the canoe.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Another beautifull and hot morning in Bangkok has started and me, pavel and Sergej went out with Christine to get something to eat. She has lived in Bangkok for a couple of months before, she knew where to go and could speak even some Thai. That made everything easier of course. She knew exactly where we could some delicious breakfast. Knewing all this I didn‘t even wonder that Christine knew the family which owned the simple restaurant ( I’m actually not exactly sure if I should call it like that).
They greeted each other like good old friends.
Me and Christine in the canoe.
After recharching our batteries we returned back to our hostel and got prepared for our trip. We planned to visit one of Bangkok’s nearby most famous attractions, the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. The only question was how to get there. Our youth-hostel offered several guided tours to different places in and around Bangkok, but we knew we could save a lot of money by organizing everything by ourselves. Christine suggested to take a taxi, splitting the costs between 4 people it shouldn’t be too expensive anyway. At this point we learned an importnat lesson from our American-Vietnamese friend. To agree the price for a track in advance is stupid in Thailand. The taxi drivers will tell you an incredibly high price for the ride and even if you bargain it down at the half, the price is still much higher then when the taxi driver would have used the taxameter.
That’s why Christine insisted that the taxi driver switched it on before telling him the direction. The first 2 drivers just refused, the 3rd one gave us the sign to get in. But when he heard where we plan to go he brought us to some taxi collecting place and asked us to take another taxi. He didn’t even charge us for the ride here, probably he knew the college who would drive us next would share the money with him.
The floating market.
Our next driver was a smiling round guy who had something...slimey...I don’t know how to describe it better. He didn’t like the idea either to use the taxameter while he would drive us to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. Bu he agreed and we got into his taxi. On the beginning he was still smiling and talked a bit in Thai with Christine. I couldn’t understand what they were talking abouth but his tone was slowly loosing the extreme friendly tone.
Obviously he was trying to change our mind so that we would agree the price ahead. Christine confirmed my doubts. Of course we didn’t plan to change our mind. The guy started to talk to himself, Christine told us later that he was swearing. But at that point he wasn’t ready to give up. The atmosphere in the taxi was getting worse minute by minute. He was trying to get something extra at least like our sunglasses. I tried to release the whole situation a bit by joking. I told the driver that he will get a chewing gum instead. At one point he stopped and meant that either we pay him more then the taxameter would show or he would let us out immediatly. Christine seemed to know this situation very well and was pretending to get out of the taxi. The man said something (propably he sweared again) and got back on the road. The last minutes were really quiet.
Pavel and Sergej enjoying a cool pineapple.
After reaching our destination we paid the guy the amount showen on the taxameter (around 400 baht, he wanted 1000!!!) and got out of the taxi quickly.
At that time the taxi driver changed his attitude again and offered to drive us back to Bangkok afterwards. He would even switch on the taxameter. No way, we wouldn’t take a ride with this slimy guy for anything on the wide world.
Women offering food
Arriving at our destination the bargaining and discussing asn’t over. The taxi driver brought us to one of the motor boat agencies, probably they would pay him a provission later for choosing their agency. It was April and there were no more tourists waiting here then us. The agency employers expected probably that they could get at least more money from us. That’s why the first price we heard just shocked us: 1000 baht per person. Were they kidding us? It was more then the double compared for the taxi drive and that took 45 minutes. Bargaining the price dropped suddenly to 500 baht, but we still thought that’s a bit too much.
Christine knew it’s too much. They seemed to hold on this price and at that point we decided that we might have a look on the other agencies. That broke the ice. Suddenly they were ready to take us for 300 baht each. That sounded already much more reasonable. We got in the wooden canoe and one minute later we were moving forward through the canals. Soon we arrived at the markets wwhere many other canoes were either with tourists or with different vendors were moving around. On some boats were women selling fruits, bottles with water or different food, on others you could buy clothes or souvenirs. There were market stall on the sides, so everytime you sa something you liked you just gave a sign the boat navigator and he leaded the canoe in that direction. Of course it was mainly a huge show for tourists, but it was really fun watching it. We bought some cooled pinneapple and ejoyed the ride.
Christine looking for new shoes.
Christine used the chance to buy some sandals. It was still before noon, but the canals were already getting full with boats, the traffic was just incredible at some places. But the canoe navigators were real masters in their jobs, they managed to avoid crashes even when we thought every couple of minutes that we might get into a boat accident.
Wanna buy some hat?
The time passed by quickly and the canoe brought us back to the point from where we started. But we were’nt in a mood to go back to Bangkok. Not at all. We saw before that thete were tourists walking around on the other side of the stalls. So it was possible to get there as well not using the canals. We started walking in the direction we guessed the market was supposed to be. It looked to be much further then we expected. Once we took a little road to get closer to one of the canals, we hoped to find a path there that would bring us to the market.
Well, we got to one of the canals, but the path we were looking for was on the other side and we had no chnace to get there. Before I could turn round to walk back I noticed tha Pavel seemed to slip and was falling into the canal. Oh my god, his whole body got under water and dissapeared for about 3 seconds. And there he was again. I know I should’t laugh about the bad luck of a friend, but the scene was just too ridiculous, hahaha. And I wasn’t the only one laughing. Before Sergej helped Pavel out I asked him to wait a second so I could take a picture.
A not used canal.
The bad news came when Pavel was out again. When he fell into the canal he had his money and his digital camera with him. The money would dry, we weren’t so sure about the camera.
And he was the one with the biggest memory card, damned. We didn’t know it at that time, but the camera was a lost case, it has never worked again. Pavel dried his stuff a bit, it didn’t take long in the heat. Then we started walking again and suddenly arrived at the market. We looked at some stalls and sit down then to have some lunch by a Thai cooking family. I have to admit, I just love Thai food, it’s so delicious.
For the way back we decided to take a bus this time. The bus stop was very close and we didn’t even have to wait long till the bus arrived. It took the bus around 1 ½ hours to get back to Bangkok, we used the chance to have a little nap meanwhile. We back to our hostel and took a little rest.
Late afternoon we went to Khao San road to pick up our Lao visas and asked immediatly for Cambodian visas as well.
They were slightly more expensive, but we would have them at 6pm next day. And we checked also some connectios to Vientiane in Laos in a couple of agencies. Suddenly we found one which had free places in an overnight bus the following day and the price was fine as well.
Pavel slipped and fell into the water...with his camera and his money. Sergej is helping him out.
We spent the rest of the evening in one of the most modern parts of Bangkok around Siam Center wich is a huge shopping center. All of us are fans of Japanese food so we ended up in a Japanese restaurant. We would have enough chances to try more Thai dishes later.