Friday, 8 July 2005

An almost sea-worthy longtail boat and a non-existent floating market.

First of all may I make my excuses for my ignorance yesterday. I was duly informed that the blasts in London coincided with the start of the G8 meeting rather than the announcement of the Olympic Games bid. I've lost track of days and I thought the G8 gathering had already commenced. Still think I'm going to plan a holiday around the Olympics though.....It's a disaster waiting to happen. I'm just grateful that the sick fanatics who targeted London yesterday didn't target Live8 last week where many more people would have died at their hands.

In amidst the chaos yesterday, I failed to mention my morning escapades. I made it to a Buddhist Centre yesterday where they sell thousands upon thousands of amulets. These are small iconic lucky charms that all Buddhists carry about their person to ward off evil spirits and bring them good fortune. Some have very specific meanings; to keep them safe whilst they drive frenetically on their tuk tuks for example. There were also thousands of statues of Buddha images to be bought. Unfortunately most of them covered with gold which although beautiful, is not really my taste.

I then went for a wander to the Golden Mount nearby. Its description in the Rough Guide as a 'grubby mount' doesn't really do it justice. It is a huge monastery with a temple built upon a mount (which certainly didn't appear grubby) overlooking the whole of Bangkok. It is certainly worth the few hundred steps up there for the view. It is pretty amazing when you can see ramshackle huts under the backdrop of a shimmering golden temple which is then on a backdrop of massive skyscrapers. You can get all the diversity of Bangkok into one photo.

The afternoon, which was supposed to be taken up with work, was a blur of tears, frantic text messages, phone calls, internet cafes, a hug from a stranger, a couple of coffees and finally a beer when I'd accounted for everyone. In that time I failed to organise a trip to the floating market.

I take full blame for the rip off I got embroiled in today. It wasn't that bad really. Basically, because I hadn't booked a trip to a flower market out of Bangkok, I was stuck with the rather less impressive market here. Unfortunately, I also got up late today.... I was seriously wacked after yesterdays traumatic events and didn't get to bed until basically I missed the market. The lady who sold me the ticket neglected to mention this however. Thankfully I bartered and got the trip from 600 Baht to 400 Baht. To be honest the trip was actually quite good. I was on my own in the longtail boat, so now other tourists to bother me and the trip along the canals was pretty stunning. Tiny ramshackle huts on rotting stilts tilt precariously close to the water. Alongside them, mansions with beautifully sculpted Thai roofs. Locals sit at the front of their houses preparing food, chopping wood or just sit around chatting. I saw a couple of men armpit high in the filthy canal water attempting to saw a plastic water pipe and looking like they were going to be there for sometime.

The actual 'floating market' was however, somewhat of a disappointment. A single lady in a canoe approached the boat and attempted to sell me some tacky souvenirs and drinks. On the way back I asked the boat driver where the floating market was. Apparently that was it. He then showed me a couple of people in their boats next to their houses selling a few bits of fruit. It was certainly nothing close to the pictures and postcards I've seen. I was quite relieved when I got back to the pier to find out that a German guy had paid the full 600 baht for the tour without even attempting to barter and didn't seem to be too bothered about having been ripped off. I wasn't the only one getting ripped off but at least I got ripped off for a good price! At the end of the day it was a fiver- not exactly enough to kick up a fuss about. Next time I visit Bangkok I'll know to book a trip the day before.

I'm off to Laos tomorrow morning. That's all from Thailand.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Em,
    The floating market that I visited entailed a 40 min coach journey out to the outskirts of Bangkok, a longtail boat journey and then a slowboat. It was packed with people selling everything from their boats, an amazing experience. There must obviously be more than one, pity I can't remember the name. You should have reached Laos by now. Enjoy!!