Bangkok, Thailand; Day 3

We booked our first tour using the company GetYourGuide. We’ve had them recommended to us multiple times and finally used it. It’s a global online marketplace for booking tours – they find you a quality guide for a private or group tour. They have a big selection of the popular activities in any given area. We had a great guide and everything ran smoothly (sort of). We liked the experience and will likely use them for Adventures again when the need arises.

Where did we go? We rode an hour south to two famous markets – the Mae Klong market and the Damnoen Saduak Market.

The Mae Klong market goes by some other names. The Railway Market. The Hoop Rom (umbrella closing) Market. Or more commonly, the Saing Tai or life-risking Market. This was our first stop.

By now we’ve been in a fair number of Thai markets and this at first seemed like a typical locals market. Fresh fruits, vegetables, seasonings. Lots of things we recognized from our Thai Cooking class in Chiang Mai. And also lots of fish. The market is located close to the sea so a lot of fisherman bring their catch to the market. The air was filled with flying scales as the vendors prepped the fish.

Pretty normal stuff, except for the railroad track running beneath our feet.

This market had been in existence for decades when a commuter rail line was laid right through it in 1905. Instead of giving up their stalls, the vendors by the line adapted and stayed put. Every time a train comes through they pull in their wares and close their shade umbrellas until the train goes by. In normal times, there are 6-8 trains a day and they put things away and get them back out each time. Some use carts on wheels, some use bins/baskets. Both are visible in this photo with CreeperPuppy.

The tourist attraction is getting to see these stalls disappear in the 3 minutes between the train approaching announcement and the train showing up. But sadly, we didn’t get to see it. We arrived on time, wandered the market, took some photos and then got word there was a track blockage an hour away that had delayed the train. We waited for a while, but were told it might not get fixed for hours. Since it’s Saturday and there was only one train scheduled, we had no choice but to head to our next destination. Since we didn’t get our own cool video of this adventure, we’ll share one we’d watched on YouTube when we were deciding to go. It’s too far to go again on this trip, so we’ll save it for our next trip to Thailand. We’re disappointed we didn’t get to see a train come through but just seeing this market was still a cool adventure.

Waiting (and waiting) for the train

Our second stop of the day, the Damnoen Saduak market was on our list because it is a Floating Market. In the past, daily commerce in Thailand was conducted along the rivers and canals. Bangkok’s water network was very busy with activity. The Damnoen Saduak canal is 32km long and the straightest in Thailand. It was dug by King Rama the IV and V in the late 19th century to link the river to a Chinese trade routes. The water market was typically clogged with farmers selling their wares and that is still the primary vendors on the water today. That’s what we were excited to see.

What we hoped to see

This was a very cool experience but we all agreed the pandemic has not been kind to this market and today it was nowhere near the chaos of prior days (shown in the photo above). To be fair, we got there on the late side for this morning market – since we’d waited at the Railway for the train.

Today

When we arrived, we hopped in a boat and started exploring. There are two ways to shop. One is to float up to the stalls lining the canal. Many of them are geared to tourists so it’s various kinds of souvenirs. The other is food vendors are in boats and will float beside you offering fruit, grilled meat skewers or full meals. We got some coconut ice cream which was delicious and a fun experience.

Our boat kept going forward so she had to keep her boat floating with ours while scraping fresh coconut, dipping ice cream and adding a spoonful of sweet sticky rice. Oh, and making change.

Tiffany tried to use her Thai numbers and asked for song ice cream (figuring we could all share one). As the vendor began making the second serving Tiffany was initially confused and then remembered song is two. Nueng is one. Whoops – good thing extra ice cream isn’t a problem.

We floated through the shops for a while and then had some lunch at a land based restaurant recommended by Sam our tour guide. Then we walked the sides of the canal to check out those shops, see the Lunar New Year decorations and listen to a little music.

Late afternoon took us back to Bangkok. It wasn’t everything we’d hoped for today but it was a fun Adventure.

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