on September 16, 2010
We knew that a whole day would be needed if taking a tour to the Floating Market.Despite of the fact that tours usually take up a whole day, if you want to get a taste of the Thai culture, you can’t leave the city without having been there. There still will be plenty of activities you can fill your late afternoon and night with.4 days were definitely not enough for me … the fact of having a limited stay made me have to prioritize and choose those places I couldn’t leave out on visiting.Internet was of great help at time of selecting the tour company that would lead us on such a fascinating experience. Our idea was to have a selected option prior to arriving to Bangkok. There were so many variations of tours to choose from and so many tour companies offering their services. The prices offered by each company were quite similar. The tour we had in mind would be one that would combine both floating market with an elephant ride… Again to our surprise so many combinations! Floating Market combined with grape vine, floating market combined with tiger temple, floating market combined with rose garden, floating market combined with the bridge on the river Kwai! And so on …Another aspect we were considering was to opt for a private tour. Private tours may be a little more expensive but your ride is usually more comfortable and waiting times can become considerably less.So after some days of emailing the several tour companies we opted to book services from TOUR EAST Bangkok (initially contacted www.toureast.com.au). No deposits are required, only a confirmation of the date you are interested in completing the tour as well as the hotel you will be staying at. If you no longer wish to use their services an email advising the change is required 24 hours prior.The tour they found most convenient for us (that would meet our above mentioned expectations) was to be the FLOATING MARKET combined with ROSE GARDEN at an approximate price of USD70 per person (we were four adults – I believe the price would have been higher if we were less).Itinerary for the day included pick up and drop off at hotel in a private air-conditioned van with English speaking guide, floating market boat ride, lunch and Rose Garden visit with an optional fee for elephant ride.At 7am the tour operator was waiting for us at the reception desk of the hotel. He led us to a very comfortable air-conditioned van and off we went! Along the highway we were amazed to see land divisions full of water ... we were told that these were the lands where most of their salt came from ... the heat will evaporate the water and what is left is salt. Many stands along the highway are found selling bags and bags of it.First stop to our surprise was to see how coconut sugar is made. Coconut trees are very common in Thailand. We were showed how the coconut is cut and placed into huge pans that are positioned over fire. The heat will evaporate the liquid out of the coconut and the remains of it are converted into sugar. We bought a little bag of coconut sugar sweets and the taste was so good! You will also have the opportunity to buy souvenirs made from coconut wood and it is a good opportunity to make a quick stop at the bathroom if necessary.Second stop was the floating market. The departing deck was packed with tourists. Each tour operator would be responsible for gathering up their group and assigning a long tailed motorized boat. After a few minutes waiting we were asked to distribute ourselves and our weight along the designated boat. Our ride had begun. Our cameras were out and ready and we were on our journey to the famous floating market.This market will provide you with a unique shopping experience! You will get the chance to make your purchases from boat to boat and you with also be able to brush up your bargaining skills. You will have an approximate 20 minute boat ride to get to the market. The boat will take you along a long narrow river surrounded by a tropical forest view, where locals also have constructed humble, precarious, wooden houses along the river sides. Many of these houses had their wooden boats hanging above surface level at the front of their decks. I believe this must be one of their only ways of transportations.The intersection of canals when you arrive to the centre of the market brings along infinite photo opportunities. It’s amazing to see how the locals manage to swerve around the high density of boats that this place can reach to have. A great diversity of products are offered all around, long tailed boats filled with colourful fresh fruit, sandals, hats, hot cooked food, wooden crafts, glasses, handbags, within others.What amazed me the most was how colourful the place was!Our drop off point was a large wooden deck with a second floor of stands, selling souvenirs. Stands all around the deck are neatly found one next to the other and wooden boats will try to find a place against the borders of the deck. On our way out we had to pass through a long alley of stands and i was surprised at how low you could bargain for. I was able to find some sweet Louis Vuitton handbags for 450BHT each.Third stop was a wooden craft factory. This was an unexpected stop as we asked the driver about this place and he drove us there to have a look. The visit was worth every second. There were craftsmen all around the place, carving wood (spectacular animal forms and other figures). You will be able to find a wide selection of wooden carved items within the storehouse (located at the back of the entrance area) open to tourists. I found that the prices were very reasonable.Final stop was the Rose Garden. This place is Incredible due to its green landscape with flowers of all kinds around the gardens that wind around a main street. The restaurants view is magnificent ... wonderful view over a round pond/lake overlooking the green.The elephant ride had an additional cost of 100 BHT per person ... 15 minutes of enjoying a royal moment! The fact that you are sitting high above this enormous and friendly creature, that will stroll around at such a slow and tranquil pace makes this moment unforgettable.They will also offer you to buy a small bunch of bananas for a very low fee and you will be able feed them all you want (unless too many tourists wanting to take a ride).If you are into wildness, then dare yourself to come back home with some sensational pictures holding an enormous snake! I believe it was 330pm when a local elephant performance took place within the grounds of this central building. Amazing how to see how elephants collaborated in pulling and pushing long tree trunks around the place. The entertainers are very agile when it comes to hoping on and off the elephants.A great way to end this tour was to view a Thai show that unifies the different aspects of the Thai culture in a 1 hour performance that will keep your eyes wide open to the beauty of each movement.The way back to the hotel was a perfect moment to rest our feet and bodies and be ready for some more activities at night.I would highly recommend this tour company and the tour itself!
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