All across Asia you will find that the most interesting places to go are the markets. Some of the markets are on the side of the scummiest roads, outside huge department blocks, in the middle of fields or on the water.
The journey started at 7 AM. Tourists checked in at the office they had booked their places on the minibus with and waited for the rest of the group to arrive. The price of the trip is 220 Baht per person (approximately $7 USD) and is reasonable considering how much it would have cost to travel by taxi. Everyone loaded into the minibus and the tour guide realized that he needed to fill one more seat so around Khao San Road a few times more went the bus, while the driver shouted in both English and Thai where the bus was headed and how much the trip was, and eventually a man decided to take the offer.
On the road passengers tried not to look out the window because it was shocking how many times the driver either created or became a part of a close call. People in Thailand don’t have the same sort of road sense as the West and are not properly trained in urban driving – every car, bus, motor bike or tuk tuk for itself.
Along the way the minibus stopped at a tourist destination on the side of the road leading back into a lush green area. The local farmers were providing tourist with a demonstration on how they cultivate sugar from the coconuts shown abundantly in the trees. The tourists were encouraged to try a piece of the solidified sugar, better than the sugar cane you put in your coffee, and give a small donation to the locals. Travelers were asked to please take a look around the indoor market next door and buy something.
It is kind of weird to be put on the spot and with the expectation of buying one of the things that is markedly overpriced. It’s a well known fact, by anyone who has gone to a foreign country and been taken to a market as a set stop on a tour, that the locals try to rip off the foreigners as much as possible. True in this case as most of the people getting back into their minibuses were empty handed.
Driving down the road another twenty minutes led us to the turn off to the Floating Market. Out of the bus and into a long tailed speed boat whizzed the people through the canals and wider waterways to the center of the Market. People were everywhere! Any manner of tourist item you could imagine presented itself in abundance to be bought by whomever wanted it.
The are two ways to get around the Market – by paddle boat, which can be rented at 150 Baht (approximately $5 USD) and lasts about half an hour to forty five minutes or by foot on the upper regions which are located on cement flooring. The experience of the Floating Market can’t be matched anywhere in Bangkok so it’s worth paying that little bit extra to be paddled around while looking and buying souvenirs. On the water is also a great place to take pictures of the complex systems of boats and demonstrates clearly the wide assortment of goods to be had. Be careful when buying from vendors as prices rise as fast as the boat glides. On land it is possible to purchase almost the same things as you can on the water.
Everything from fruit and veg to postcards and statues are sold side by side. There are even shops set up to sell you clothes and small restaurants, offering a child sized stool for your eating pleasure, which provide you with hot and cold Thai food, soup and drinks. The Floating Market is a definite must for those traveling through Bangkok.