Floating Market In Bangkok, Thailand
As our tour begins to a floating market in Bangkok, the sun catches the water and the water returns sparkling twinkles that make me relax even deeper than I thought possible. I feel a smile broadening across my face as the warm wind blows away any lingering scrambled thoughts that once brought tears so easily to my eyes. Adventure is on the horizon.
After nearly three decades, I returned to Thailand, the country where my dad was born. Now, in my forties, my journey is bitter sweet. A land I had come to love so dearly, especially from this recent trip is one that I can no longer share with my own father.
He passed away in 2002 and left a hole in my heart…one that I tried constantly to fill over the last decade-plus but to no avail. Cancer cut short his life at just 72 years old; he was barely into retirement.
My journey to his home country is part of my healing process. Writing the story is my catharsis and a time to embrace in memory the culture, the people, and my own family (uncle, aunts, and other relatives) who remain there. You can read more of my personal journey here where I’m blogging about reconnecting with my relatives and other aspects of my trip.
In this post I share some of the highlights from my journeys to two of the floating markets in Bangkok.
Colorful images leap into sight from every angle at the floating markets. They’re bustling places but they feel tranquil to me in some odd way. Pontoon boats take visitors on a picturesque journey down the river to the Damnoen Saduak and other floating markets.
Traveling down the river Chao Praya is one of the most pleasant aspects of the floating markets.
The land and floating markets are all very crowded. For some that’s a turnoff; for others it’s part of the cultural experience…embrace it and you’ll enjoy it.
Shopping is part of tourists’ destination, but even for those who prefer to avoid tourist hotspots, the markets are worth experiencing.
The last time I was in Thailand, I remember being told about Loi Krathong, which typically takes place on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar. It’s a celebration of the river spirits and the great gift of the river. People celebrate it by floating circular objects or baskets which are usually filled with banana leaves and flowers and adorned with ornaments, candles, incense, and even coins as an offering to the river spirits. I haven’t yet seen this in Thailand, but have been to other Thai celebrations with my dad in San Diego.
The ritual is lovely as it’s a way of paying respect to the Goddess of Water and to be forgiven for polluting it. When you take the boat tours, you will see the rivers are used for many things.
Along a river path you’ll see how everyday life on the river proceeds. Thai people squat dockside and wash dishes and clothes, have breakfast, brush their teeth, take a bath, swim, and dispose of garbage.
Once you arrive dockside at the market, you’ll find aisles of food, Thai gifts and items of arts and crafts, and clothing. Tour guides allow plenty of time to browse. Unlike in some of the modern land markets with posted prices, at the floating markets bargaining is very common. While there are many tourist-type trinkets, you can also find some nice treasures at very reasonable prices. I found a backpack that I had purchased for my daughter back at home in California for nearly $80. At one of the Thai markets, the same (or equivalent style and quality) backpack cost $15.
Happy sightseeing and shopping! Watch for my next Thai trip blog post soon.
You might also like this video post on Phuket, Thailand.
Note: Video shot and edited exclusive with the iPhone6+