P A R T 3
It took me a long time to get to part three of this series about my visit to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. I am not normally a person that is looking at the negative side of a situation.
And the longer I postponed this post, the less enthusiastic I became in sharing my experience on this forum.
But I promised to add this third part to the series, so today I decided to sit down and get it out there.
No 59. One of the modern"gondoliers", he looks more like a speedboat racing driver...
If you did not read the first instalments of this three-part series, please read them (links below) before continue reading this last part.
I mentioned previously we hired a private “limousine” taxi (a Toyota Quantum minibus with a luxurious interior outfit) as this is much easier to travel with when you have a small baby in the mix than using one of those large tour buses.
Negotiating your way through the water traffic jams takes nerves of steel and determination.
We arrived at about 9 am and were taken to a place where we were told to buy a ticket to be taken with a longboat to the floating market. I was really not impressed as this is not how I envisaged this trip. I even brought a tripod along and all the great photos I saw on the internet of these places were taken from a high vantage point.
I asked whether we will be able to get off the boat but was also told that this is not possible. The ticket seller and our driver were not helpful at all as if they all of a sudden did not understand any English. I even showed them photos on my phone of what we want to photograph but they insisted that we need to buy a ticket for the boat to see the market. The ticket costs 2000Baht (roughly R750 in my South African frame of reference!) We eventually gave in, bought the ticket and went on our boat trip as it seemed to be the only way to go about it.
The Hat Seller
One of the many small entrepreneurs selling her hats to the tourists as a souvenir.
Only during the boat trip did we start to realise that we fell for one of the oldest traps; the taxi driver stopped about 2 kilometres ahead of the actual market and obviously got some commission to get us on one of these boats.
The boat ride took about 1 hour 30 minutes through a maze of narrow water canals with small shops or stalls lined up on both sides of the canals. The boats are equipped with old Toyota engines and all of them need a serious overhaul - they are polluting the air with a mixture of gasoline and oil fumes to the extent that we sometimes had to cover our noses when one is passing us.
Huffing and Puffing
One of the motorized gondolas blowing a mixture of gasoline and oil fumes onto the tourists - not to glamorous!
The idea is that the boat stops at each of these shops and you shop from the “comfort of your boat".
The market does not come to you on boats anymore, you rather go shopping with a boat! Not very dissimilar to a taxi - just much more expensive. Most of these shops only sell souvenirs or eats or drinks.
This blatant misleading of foreigners to get them to spend money seems to be common practice in Thailand and we experienced it quite often during our trip. In many cases, it was by people who seem to be legit tour guides/operators and even officials and religious "leaders".
The foldable Hat
This hat fold up in a similar way as a hand fan.
The lady demonstrated that one could also use it as a hand fan rather than a hat
I really found it difficult to get any interesting, well composed and sharp photos from our speeding water taxi.
En route we passed an area which was obviously the actual market as there were other tourists (most likely the tourists from the large tour buses) walking along the sides of the canal photographing us! There were also some boats in the water selling their wares, mostly the same stuff we saw in the stalls along the canals.
We were not allowed to get off the boat – we paid to be taken around and that was what we will be doing…
At the end of our (frustrating and boring) journey, we insisted our driver taking us to the actual market so that we can actually walk around and take some photos.