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Bangkok Floating Market : Damnoen Saduak
The floating Market of James Bond fame is not actually in Bangkok at all but involves a two hour journey to reach it by road. It is 110 kms to the west of Bangkok. Usually people visit this market en route to somewhere else or combine a visit to other places of interest.
Various canals known as khlongs were built to assist in the transportation of goods around Thailand as there is an abundant supply of rivers and waterways in this area. The canals were used to bring water to the farmers in order to water their crops. It was also a quicker means for rural farmers to bring their produce to the markets to sell.
The region is very fertile and a wide variety of produce are grown including cabbages, beans, coconuts, papayas, oranges, grapes, onion, melons, star fruit, mangoes pineapples and bananas.
The local people live along side the Canals some on houses built on stilts and during your visit here you can see the local people washing and bathing in the canals kids playing in the water en route to the market.
On reaching Damnoen Saduak you take a long boat ride to the market. These boats are about 20 to 30 feet long are very narrow and carry about ten persons on little slat type seats. Much too small for some western bums I might add. You are transported at speed along the canals leaving a wake behind you unfortunately the boats returning in the opposite direction also leave a wake and you can be thrown about and may get soaked in the process. Hey it's all part of the fun.
On reaching the Market area you are dropped off and may walk along to the market where there are men with low tables with various pythons on. They may approach the tourists and dump them round your neck and then charge you for having your photo taken. Passing swiftly by you reach the market proper where there are café's and stalls selling all kinds of locally produced items nick nacks, souvenirs and clothing. It is absolutely mental here and quite crowded with both locals and tourists alike.
You transfer here into smaller long boats that go along the canal that have small shops either side selling all kinds of colourful fruit and flowers, various souvenirs pots and pans and all kinds of house wares. The boats are usually steered by women using poles, with sun scorched faces wearing straw hats to try to protect them from the burning sun. Boats filled with all kinds of merchandise ply beside you trying to tempt you to buy something from them.
There are even boats cooking all kinds of delicacies which paddle past, little pots of bubbling curries, rice or noodles. There are bubbling woks, frying all kinds of meats and snacks to sell to the workers shoppers and tourists in an attempt to make a living for the families. Although it is a working market there is a sense that some of it is put on for the benefit of tourists. Saying that it is good fun and there are amazing abundance of colours and smells to attack your senses.
Shops on the other side of the canal sell stuff to people on the opposite side of the canal by means of tins attached to pulley ropes. The person calls across to the vendor what they want then a tin is dispatched across by pulley rope, the money is put in and sent back across the canal the goods and change are placed back in the tin and sent to the shopper.
The market is open from 08:00 and closes around 11:00.
Cost of air-conditioned mini bus to the market on an organised tour is around about £10 including the price of the boat trips for a half day tour.
You can go independently by bus which costs about a pound from Bangkok and the boat trip costs around 10 Baht which is roughly equivalent to 20p.
Would I recommend this trip.
Yes absolutely but I would combine it with an organised tour as you get to see so much more.
Commerce on the water is an old tradition that is still being practiced. Everything from vegetables and fruits to freshly-cooked noodle and souvenirs can be purchased at this lively market.