My family arrived late on Sunday, the 22nd, and our train to Chiang Mai didn’t leave until Monday evening, giving us almost a full day in Bangkok to do whatever. I’d recommended the Grand Palace, having enjoyed it when Laura and I visited almost 2 years ago now, but interest seemed moderate at best. When I mentioned a floating market, however, the proverbial ears perked up.
Though I’d seen them advertised in just about any taxi I’d been in in Bangkok, I realized I knew quite little about the floating markets, as became apparent as soon as we sauntered to the hotel lobby at around 10:30 am. “Oh… floating market… maybe better to go tomorrow, at 8 or 9 in the morning,” the friendly clerk, Biggy, informed us.
“Well, we leave this evening so we’d need to go today.”
“Oh… well the market closes at around 12 o’clock… sometimes 1… but, okay, I think no problem for you.”
We were a bit dubious but he organized a (fairly expensive, in retrospect) taxi to take us there and then directly to the train station and assured us entry to the market would be no more than 1000 baht per person. An hour-and-a-half later we were at the floating market, which did indeed seem to be in its final stages, with some parts already closed down. Also, they were requesting 2500 baht per person at the desk, which we were able to bargain down to 1000 eventually, but still left us a bit unsettled about the whole experience.
In the end, I will say I’m glad we did it. I got to introduce my family to some typical Thai foods (mango and sticky rice, fresh coconut, som tam, noodle soup) and it was a neat ambiance (though we didn’t end up buying anything other than food). Was it way too expensive? Yes. (With the taxi, it ended up being exactly the same as our 3-day-trek, which included food, guide, and accommodation, in Chiang Mai!) Was the water an awful shade of “cesspool greenish-brownish-grey”? Yes. (And crawling with crocodile-esque monitor lizards. Though that didn’t stop us from seeing a number of Thai men chest-deep in the canals fixing up boats or doing Lord knows what else.) But a good experience nonetheless.
In the process of talking down our ticket price we said we’d forgo going to the temple that was meant to be included at the end of the market tour. Then the driver ended up taking us there anyway.