The alarm goes off at an ungodly hour and I immediately regret going out the previous evening. I am not the worldâ€™s biggest fan of early mornings, but The Floating Market closes around noon, so early start it is. â€œThis better be worth it,â€ I mumble to no one in particular.
Thereâ€™s no time for breakfast, just enough time for a quick shower and then down to catch the cab that will take me 60 miles out of Bangkok to Ratchapurri and ultimately Damnoen Saduak, one of the most famous floating markets.
The cabbie is extremely friendly and introduces himself as Louis. Somehow he doesnâ€™t look like a Louis to me. My suspicions are confirmed when I get in the cab and look at his official taxi license prominently displayed on the dashboard, it reads â€œSarawong.â€ Okay, we can go with Louis.
Itâ€™s been years since Iâ€™ve been to the Floating Market but I remember it as one of the highlights of my first trip to Bangkok. For those of you that have never been to a floating market in Thailand, I highly recommend it. Not so much for the shopping, but for the experience of eating really tasty local foods in a boat. You can get all the same foods youâ€™ll find at the floating market elsewhere, but they will not be served to you by a woman sitting in a boat and you will not eat them in a boat. You will not eat them with a goat, nor swimming in a moat! Get thee to the Floating Market!
Although now a tourist attraction, The Floating Markets used to be where normal Thais went to shop for fresh food and household goods. Imagine the Venice canals filled with people on boats selling food and people on shore at the edges of the canals selling souvenirs and even a few areas where you can get off the boat and go to a sit down restaurant or store or temple. This will give you a reasonable idea of what The Floating Markets look like. It is definitely a touristy thing to do but itâ€™s one of those touristy things worth doing. This time Iâ€™m going with my buddy Kyle, whoâ€™s never been before so it will be great to see his reactions.
We get lucky as the normally 1Â½ hr taxi ride only takes 50 minutes. After hopping into a long-tail, narrow speedboat and we head down the canals to the market. The game plan is to eat as many different foods as possible while doing a little souvenir shopping.
We encounter lots of friendly Thais selling food from canoe-like rowboats and souvenirs from stalls that our boat pulls up alongside. The selection of foods at The Floating Market is fantastic. We see lots of exotic fresh fruit (mangoes, mangosteens, durians, etcâ€¦), sweets (soft coconut pancakes, crunchy coconut pancakes with soft marshmallow and crunchy coconut inside, mango and sticky rice, etcâ€¦), and staple Thai dishes (fried pork and rice, spicy Thai noodle soup, pad Thai, etcâ€¦). Since everything looks delicious and I havenâ€™t had any breakfast, I decide to eat one of everything!!!
The first food vendor, and therefore my first victim, is a soup vendor. I must tell you, watching someone make you a fresh bowl of spicy Thai noodle soup from the kitchen they have set up on their canoe is awesome. You may notice that the big pot used to cook the soup has three sections. One is for cooking the noodles, one is for the soup broth and one is for I donâ€™t know what! I will have to pay closer attention next time. I am too distracted by the way the bowls are expertly stacked on each other, maximizing the small space available. Did I mention the soup is delicious? I canâ€™t wait to go back. The fact it costs less than a few bucks doesnâ€™t hurt either!
I follow up the soup with some fresh mangosteens, fresh mangoes, not quite so fresh durian, hot-off-the-grill crunchy coconut pancakes, multi-colored pork rinds (at least I think thatâ€™s what they were. They tasted great.), coconut juice, hot coffee, fried pork with rice, mango with sticky rice, coconut cookie thing and finally more fresh mangoes. Itâ€™s amazing I donâ€™t weigh 200 lbs.. Oh wait, I do weigh 200 lbs.! That figures. All in all, I think I do fairly well on my mission of eating as many foods as possible.
I must warn you that the boat drivers take tourists here every day and, of course, know all the sellers and will try to get you to stop at tons of the little souvenir shops. Tell your driver if you donâ€™t want to stop at these things and you wonâ€™t have to stop at as many BUT they are trying to get you to buy stuff so be prepared to say â€œno thanksâ€, a lot! However, if you do decide to buy some souvenirs, which are similar to what you will find elsewhere in Thailand, donâ€™t forget to bargain. Keep in mind that getting yourself a souvenir from here might be a good reminder of your trip to the floating market.
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