Who even knew there was a 5 am! Although, in real time, it was actually only 11pm back home. But at any rate, it was a bit strange.
The whole day has been a bit strange really, in the grand scheme of things. It has been very heavily featured around water, which is fitting for a Pisces, I suppose.
I was up at 5am to go to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market near Samut Songkram, about 1.5 hours away from the city centre. I had to go across town to another hotel to meet Ammie and Jamie for the pick up of the tour. It was a bit disheartening to see a fairly rickety looking mini-van, but thankfully it was air-conditioned. The journey gave Jamie and I plenty of time to catch up on a year’s worth of gossip and we were soon at the market. We got out the van and more or less straight onto a long tail motor boat for a jaunt round the khlongs (canals), where we saw some traditional thai houses by the canal.
Once we got back to the little jetty area, we got on a different oar-powered longtail boat for a slower, more detailed tour of the khlongs with the actual market on. Most of the “stalls” are not actually floating, but on the canal banks, however, there are plenty of boats still going up and down selling mostly fruit and vegetables. It is definitely catering for the tourist market, with most of the stalls being souvenirs and handicrafts, most of which are available at a fraction of the price in Bangkok itself. However, it’s definitely worth a visit, it’s so much fun to go whizzing down the canal with a nice breeze in your face!
Of course, it being so early, we had to have some sort of breakfast. Jamie bought some coconut pancakes from a woman who was actually cooking them in her boat! They were delicious, as was the pork and noodle soup that we had when we got back on dry land, also cooked by a little old lady in her boat. I had read that it was not wise to eat anything from the market due to the vendors using water from the canal in the cooking (which is the colour of mud), but you really do have to try these things as you never know if you’ll be back! I am glad I did and so far my delicate stomach has not complained!
I also enjoyed some coconut milk fresh from the coconut whilst on our second boat ride. I don’t actually like what I thought was coconut – but these are not the brown hairy ones that we know back home. These are young, green and non-hairy coconuts, basically with the top cut off with a machete and a straw stuck in – very sweet milky water and very refreshing in the 34 degree humid heat!
Ammie very kindly had organised the tour for us, and I had thought that once we were done with the market, we’d be heading back to the city, but in actual fact we ended up going to a few different places first. Next after the market, was the elephant trekking place. The elephants didn’t look best pleased to be there and it was very expensive to ride them (well, for Thailand it was expensive) so we relaxed with a drink whilst some of our group went off through the woods on the elephants.
Next, we stopped off at the Cobra Show. We had seen loads of posters advertising what was supposed to be “the most exciting show on earth”, so we coughed up our £2.80 and went on in. The main show was based around some crazy guys, some cobras in sacks and a mongoose. You have to wonder about the wisdom of putting 3 poisonous snakes in your mouth, but these guys seem to do it several times a day.
Jamie managed to semi-overcome his fear of snakes, but touching a cobra – it felt a bit like a garden hose – not scaly at all and very soft and warm. We also saw a crocodile, some big birds and some tortoises. The entire place looked and felt like it was due to be shut down by the RSPCA any second, but it was really something to see the snakes so close up. We were examining some water snakes, which were all hanging in the water, looking like they were dead, discussing whether they could jump out of the water when a leaf floated down and landed on my hand and we all leapt out of our skins!
Then it was time to head back to our van, and on to a wood-carving centre. Some of the works were really amazing, but we only had 10 minutes to spend there. I would have liked to have spent some more time watching the paper-making demonstration, but we had to get back to town.
Once back, we were all pretty knackered, so we decided to go to MBK to Fuji, a Japanese restaurant which I had been told about. We had to take our shoes off to sit at the table and ate like kings on several different dishes for less than £3 each. We all headed back to our respective homes and I came back to the hotel and decided to investigate the pool. It’s a lovely bit pool with a bridge over the middles, surrounded by palm trees, so I really enjoyed having a good dunk in it! It’s very shallow, but I’ll definitely be dipping the old dogs back in there before I head home.
Now, I am sitting in my room, taking the photos off my camera ready for Flickr uploading tomorrow (the internet connection is way too expensive in the hotel!) and debating whether to go to the Suan Lum Night Bazaar by myself this evening. I am so knackered I might give it a miss, and head for bed though. I have been here over 24 hours and have not yet shopped! Crikey …