After my first day of my trip to Thailand I was so eager to explore more. My sensors were still overloaded with shapes, colors, smells and my body, although recovering from the extensive walk rides from yesterday was light and flexible. I was really enjoying the fruits breakfast at the hotel, especially the watermelon juices and carrot juices. Without too much planning I took the BTS skytrain again with the destination Saphan Taksin, the main pier for Chao Phraya boat cruising. After I bought my ticket I started to peruse the brochure and picked my destinations. Seemed like a visit to China Town in the morning and then visiting the Flower Market could be a good choice. Minutes after getting on board I was getting down to the pier for China Town.
China Town In Bangkok
In the morning, China Town didn’t seem overwhelming at all. People were slowly moving their chariots with food and set up their places.
The place looked overcrowded with merchandise in a very Chinese style:
Every 20-30 meters a sudden color explosion arrived out of nowhere:
The streets where rather busy, and not only with people. Suspended wires, cars, tuk-tuks, motorcycles and a low noise were making a rather intriguing setup. Building were no match to the ones in the downtown Bangkok, on the contrary:
Only a small traditional gate was trying to balance the image, but with very limited success:
One thing was although omnipresent in a huge variety: food. From fruits and vegetables:
to cooked food in all colors and shapes:
I guess I was a little biased when I took the photos, and maybe I insisted too much on the “gray” side of China Town and on the spectacular food setups. Maybe was the fact that I was already familiar with this type of markets from the “China Town” in Bucharest, maybe it was the contrast from the shining and serious buildings of the yesterday temples. The whole walk didn’t took me more than 40 minutes, after which I was again on the Chao Phraya boat. Leaving China Town was no visually nicer than being there also:
Minutes after getting on board, I was getting down to the Flower Market pier.
The “Clocodile” Incident
And here something really interesting happened. While I was walking towards the streets, I heard an old man giggling on the pier. It was like 2-3 meters from me, looking at the water and saying something in Thai. He looked at me, asked me something and then giggled again. “What?” I asked. “Oh, English!”, he said. And then continued fluently: “Have you seen the little clocodile in the water?”. I looked at the river, knowing that seeing fishes at the surface is something very common, but no crocodile was on sight. “No, I said, no crocodile”. “But look, it was there, seconds ago, just a little clocodile, playing”. “Are there crocodile in Chao Phraya?” I asked. “Of course, he answered. Vely little, half a meter, but clocodiles are on the river”.
Then, out of nowhere, he asked me: “Where are you from?”. “Romania”, I answered mechanically. “Oh, Europe” he said. After several seconds, he came up with the line every thai individual gave me after I declined my identity: “Cold, right? Is really cold in Europe now, isn’t it?”. Somehow, without any logical reason, I started to like that man. “Yeap, is pretty cold, but how can you know that?”. “Well, my sister lives in Germany, been there several times.”
We started to talk more and one thing lead to another and he finally come to the point: “Have you been with the long tail boat on Chao Phraya?”. “No, I answered, not yet”. “But what are you waiting for?” asked me and he seemed really curious. “I have a boat, a long tail boat, he continued, just for this type of cruises. Let me show it to you”. He was so genuinely serious in making me believe that the only obstacle between me and a long tail boat was only his desire to help. “Oh, no, I have to visit the Flower Market first”, I said, remembering everything that I read about people who are trying to sell you cruises on the Chao Phraya river at astronomical prices. But I was already curious and in my mind there was something about a floating market that I should visit, so I asked him: “Are you going to the floating market, too?”. “Of course, smiled with his all face, floating malket, of course”.
Had no idea where this floating market was but heard a lot of stuff about it and I was really curious. The morning walk in China Town didn’t look spectacular to me, and I thought I should give it a try. The old man cruise was about an hour, and all I knew about the floating market was that something that I want to see. I said: “Can you wait for me here and after I get back from the Flower Market we’ll talk about it. What do you say?”. Openly disappointed and almost offended he started to wave his hands an tell me: “Oh, go, just go, visit that flower market”. I let him on the pier, looking at the invisible crocodile and went to visit the Flower Market.
Bangkok Flower Market
It seemed that all the action in the Flower Market (which acts also as a fresh vegetables market) was already done in the early morning. From place to place, baskets full of fruits still waited to be picked up.
Some people tried to avoid the outside heat by hiding under the darker roofs, inside the market:
After a few sections of vegetables and baskets full of other eatable merchandise, I finally arrived in the flowers zone. And, my friends, that was a beautiful place. No need for more words here, just the pictures:
As I took these photos, at one specific moment, I realized I’m lost. Seriously. I was so busy taking photos and didn’t recorded my itinerary. All of a sudden, I was lost in Bangkok, in a huge market with nobody who could actually speak English. After circling through many sections of the market, I thought I found the main street:
At the end of it, instead of finding the pier, I found this street:
I was starting to be really frustrated by this, I don’t get lost very often. I sat down for a while, had a cold juice and then, paying much more attention to all the details I started to walk again. In about 30 minutes I found the pier, and near the pier there he was, the tiny old man with the expensive long tail boat proposal. An unexplainable joy filled my body from the top to the bottom. I was so happy that I found the pier after being lost, that I could actually pay the old man to just sit there. I went straight to him and announce him that I want to take the cruise.
The “Clocodile” Incident – Follow Up
He smiled at me like he knew all the time that I would came back to him and walked me to a little tuk-tuk in the street. “Well, it’s not here, your boat?” I asked. “No, no, you have to take this tuk-tuk and he will take you to the pier.” said the little man, and those were the last words I heard from him. I took the tuk-tuk with an unexplainable feeling of deja-vu: 5 minutes ago I was lost, and now I was heading straight to the unknown in a caricatural car with an unknown driver:
In less than 2 minutes we arrived to a desert pier where a middle age lady asked me in a fuzzy English if I want a cruise. She was the only human being on that pier. I politely answered that yes, I would very much like to take a long tail cruise. Only there was no long tail boat at the pier and the tuk-tuk left without a word. Not that I would understand something from the driver, but anyway. The middle age lady suggested that I should take a seat somewhere on the pier while she will take care of the situation. During the next 20 minutes she showed me a dozen of times those two fingers and whispered smiling: “Two minutes, in two minutes a boat will be here”.
Finally, the boat was here. I surrendered already to the circumstances and all I did during this time was to find a place without too much sun on the pier. I paid to the old lady 1000 BAHT (around 30 USD) and get on board:
After a few hundred meters on the Chao Phraya main river, the boat took a left and we entered one of the river canals. Another face of Bangkok was sitting there, on the pillars:
At a certain point, the boat stopped without a word from the man behind. A small boat approached us. Inside, another middle age woman started to talk to me, explaining that she was “floating malket”.
And that was the moment when I understood that the “cruise” was just an innocent attempt to find out how informed, cautious and intelligent tourists are. I was not informed, not cautious and certainly not intelligent, otherwise I would have chose an organized tour. Several days after this incident I visited the real floating market, which was around 180 km away from Bangkok in a place called Damnon Saeduk, and the whole tour, including transport by car from and to the hotel and half an hour boat cruising on the floating market was 600 BAHT.
I bought 2 souvenirs from the “floating market lady” and waited for the “cruise” to finish. On the way back to the pier, I wrote a note in my iPhone: “Have you seen the little clocodile on the river – now that’s a very good pick-up line, make sure you’ll use it sometimes”…
After I get back to the hotel I spent the rest of the day trying to find imperfections in the ceiling of my room, while laying on the bed, of course, with short and totally chaotic pauses in which I was compulsively twittering.