The morning we landed in Thailand’s bustling capital of Bangkok, we connected with a guide, Sam, that was recommended to us by a fellow traveler in Phuket. He was known for providing a thorough experience of Bangkok’s floating market. Today, these markets serve mainly as tourist attractions, but they originated in a time and within locations where water transportation was a large part of daily life. These markets became the core of communities for centuries through out the central plains of Thailand since the 1300’s. Once we arrived in Damnoen Saduak district, about two hours outside of Bangkok, it felt as if we had stumbled into a whole new world (cue Aladdin sountrack). We boarded our traditional long tail boat and wandered through an entire village built on stilts surrounding the large canals. Families of the community were carrying on their daily routines as we passed; passing time on their porch, washing clothes in the canal, children playing by the water, and cutting up the day’s delivery of produce. It was such a beautiful and incomparable experience to be a part of. As we turned a corner on our way to the market, we witnessed a floating delivery of goods between a neighbor and fellow farmer at the foot of the women’s front door. These farmers will float the canals and ring a bell in a unique pattern to let their neighbors know what goods are available for sale. Think of it as the OG of ice cream trucks.
Once we arrived at the market, Sam ordered us a round of Thai coffee and local dishes which were cooked and prepared from his favorite vendor’s floating kitchen, located on her wooden boat. After our bellies were full, we walked along the edge of the market to experience the traditional way of selling and buying goods of this community. Local farmers filled their boats with their native fruits of mangos, pineapples, dragon and star fruits, fresh coconuts and durian. Others were cooking the local dishes ranging from mango sticky rice to boat noodles and traditional Thai deserts such as coconut rice dumplings. As we made our way down the dock, we came upon owners of some of the largest snakes I have ever seen. The men gestured towards me to put the snake around my shoulders and it was an experience I was not about to turn down. As they laid their cold blooded friend around my arms, the pure weight of him made me burst into laughter. It took all of my strength just to keep my arms from falling to my side like magnets. Shawn wanted nothing to do with the new friend I had made, so after our short lived petting zoo experience we made our way back to our boat and on to our next adventure.