Day 5, April 29, 2013, Sunday - Damnoensaduak Floating Market and Grand Sport
We started our fifth day in Bangkok by visiting the famous Damnoensaduak Floating Market. It is about 100km south of Bangkok. The market is being commercialise as tourist attraction now. It bound to be a lot of hypes and not worth the trip. Nevertheless, I decided to go to learn about their history, life and culture. It was a very good experience for us.
Initially I was thinking to go there the backpackers way but considering the time we had I decided to book a van. I had booked a van the day before and it cost me around 2,000 Baht. I did this with the help of the front desk staff and we decided the pick up time at our hotel at around 8.30am.
The van was on time and we departed immediately. We manoeuvred out of early Sunday morning Bangkok traffic. As we drove out I was not surprise to see worker cycling in the city street to work. The drive was quite pleasant going through Thai’s country side. As we approach the hour mark of the journey to Damnoensaduak I saw a lot of white watery farm as big as any paddy fields. I asked our driver and he told us it was salt farms. Only then, after checking my map, I knew that we were actually driving by the sea. The ingenuity and entrepreneurship of the Thais amazed me.
Damnoensaduak Floating Market
The driver took us to one of the many boat operators that will take tourists around the canal and to end at the market. If you have time, on the budget and adventurous the better option is to take a bus to the floating market directly as you can experience the boat ride there cheaper. Understanding their operation and the choice of the operator by our driver I knew they were going for my wallet. So I played dumb and uninterested. I started the negotiation and in the end we settled for a price that I could not remember now ha ha ha.
The first part of the boat ride was going through somebody's backyard along the man made canals. As part of the tourist attractions they built a lot of stalls along the canal. If you found something that you really want, bargain hard as most of the items are available through out Bangkok as well. The boat driver took us through the maze and the sight was either more stalls or someone's kitchen and backyard. The boat driver would slow down at every stalls at the bank just in case we were interested to look and buy things. He actually stopped at one that was slightly bigger than the rest. It was a shop cum tourist area where they showed how a few local pastries were made. We were not looking for anything and they was nothing interest us to buy as souvenir. Eventually we got on the boat and moved on. The only place that we stopped that really had my attention was an art shop/gallery run by the artist himself. He was assisted by his beautiful sister. The artist was Supachai and after a few rounds the place I decided on a piece. The average price of his painting is 2,500 TB. I was very glad to find out I could pay using my plastic.
The driver continued to take us toward the main market area and by this time the canal was already quite busy with other boats coming and going. We eventually turned into the main entrance of the Damnoensaduak Floating Market. As we moved along we could see a lot of activities but since it was almost mid-day not as busy as in the early morning. Really live business activities were conducted around us on boats. The boys and Sam decided to buy fruits. Frankly there was nothing much when we were there. It is becoming to be more hypes than anything else. Well I could be wrong as maybe we were there at the wrong time. The boat turned a corner at the end of the market and we sped back to where we started. I am glad we got that one in the bag. Nothing really amazing about the place that I want to go back again. It is a place once you have had the experience and that’s it. No deep beautiful feeling that attaches me to the place.
The journey back to Bangkok was fast and quiet ha ha ha.
Due to quite and early morning departure most were really tired by the time we were on the van going back to the hotel. So silence mode was on.
Once we arrived back at the hotel we decided just to buy something to eat and had our lunch in the room. In fact I was not that hungry I let my family rest a bit before deciding on another assault on Bangkok.
Thus, after lunch we went for another walk-about around Bangkok and this time we went to the National Stadium area with the intention of exploring the sport tourist area. We took the BTS to National Stadium station and started to walk towards the stadium area. Our expectation was not that high so we just kept on walking. To our great surprise, we found the elusive Grand Sport store next to the stadium area. In fact the whole two-row building there was actually housed sport stores of local brands. The biggest were FBT and Grand Sport. Grand Sport is the brand that was famous among us in the 70’s and anytime we were in Thailand it was a must buy. Being a nostalgic fool like me it was one of the reasons why I want to be in Bangkok again. There were couple of things on sale and we bought a few. We explored FBT and other stores as well. After a while and since the day is getting dark we walked back towards the MBK. Since we had explored MBK before we just walked outside and took the BTS to Siam Centre. There were two new shopping malls we just walked to passed the time to see something different if any.
We finished the day with a sumptuous and the most delicious Tom Yum dinner at Farida Fartornee Restaurant. I knew of the place before hand and apart from being recommended by a friend I did some research on it. I decided it is worth the hassle. After the floating market and the long walk I thought I want to have it easy for my family and have a simple dinner. But then we would have a chance anymore as we were leaving soon so I made a brave effort to identify the best route to go there. From Siam Centre we took the BTS to Ratchathewi station and from there, with the help the map I downloaded, we walked to the restaurant. We ordered what’s recommended and we had the best tom yum that we had ever had.
Famished and elated we walked out of the restaurant towards the BTS station. Disembarking at Si Lom station we walked the night market along the street before we headed to our hotel.
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