Float, float on! The floating market sucks!.
Take my hand, come with me, baby, to Love Land
Let me show you how sweet it could be
Sharing love with me, I want you to
Float, float on!
(from The Floaters – Float on)
Well, the floating market sucks!!
Don’t go on that tour! First of all you really have to find out which floating market to go to. Because the tourists liked to see real Thai people selling their goods on a boat, more and more “floating markets” popped up around Bangkok. The real one is the Damnoon Saduak and is a one-and-a-half hour from Bangkok city when driving towards Laos. Then Amphawa is the second “real one”, which is 16 kilometers from Damson Saduak, but this one is only open in the weekends. It is smaller and a bit more authentic.
I start with a smiling picture of the two of us. At this moment we were not aware that we were cheated by our guide.
This time we booked the trip at our Hotel Sofitel SO “City Guru”. We could choose for the group trip, which would leave at 06:30 in the morning, but would pick up other tourists as well. Maximum of 4 hotels they would pick up companion travellers. They would stop at the Sugar Factory for a half hour tour first.
Our friend Aat Mulder already had warned us that if you arrive too late at the floating market, it would be very crowded. Also the light to take pictures is much nicer in the early morning. But we liked our breakfast buffet at Sofitel SO that much that we decided to take a private tour. The group trip cost 1.800 bath (46 euro) and the private tour 2.200 bath (57 euro) per person. We told de City Guru that we wanted a pick up at 07:30 and wanted to go straight to the floating market, so NO stop at the Sugar Factory.
When our driver and guide picked us up it started raining. The guide asked us why we did not want to see the Sugar Factory. He never had clients who wanted to go straight to the floating market. I explained him that I wanted to take pictures with nice morning light and less tourists. So we drove straight to the boat. At the dock there was a photographer taking a picture of us. This is an important detail, I will explain later.
The beginning of the tour was great. The sun began to shine and we went through a beautiful area with lots of greenery. We were the only ones on the water, except for a monk and a Moslim women trying to sell us green mango’s.
We reached the floating market and the long tail boat moored at the first quay. The whole wharf was full with touristic shops. A few Thai women were selling goods, so I bought coconut pancakes and fried banana and Johan some fresh fruit. Our guide asked us if he had to take a picture of us on the highest point of the dock.
After 20 minutes on the quay the guide asked us if we wanted to move up north. I looked in the north direction and saw many boats we had not seen yet, so of course we were interested to go to another quay. The way up north was through a small alley with on both sides more touristic shops. Because we were the first tourist at the market, every sales man or women jumped up to sell us sandals, towels, miniatures made out of coconut and other tourist crap. And at the end we were offered our photo that was taken at the beginning.
“How could they know we were mooring this wharf?” I asked Johan “There are so many other places we could have moored the boat!”
At the end of the alley our guide said:
“I am going to call the driver and we drive back to Bangkok”
“What??” I replied shocked “Is this the whole tour? Did we drive one-and-a-half hour to visit the floating market for 20 minutes? I wanted to take some extra pictures of more diverse boats than the four boats which were at our dock!”
“Ok we can go back!” the guide said.
So we went back through the alley with touristic goods to the same quay and got an extra 15 minutes from the guide to take more pictures. But nothing changed there! Still the same four boats were at the dock.
Disappointed we walked back through the touristic alley again, got offered our photo again, which we of course refused to buy. Our guide said we had to wait another ten minutes before the driver would arrive.
“In the meantime you can do some shopping here” he said, pointing to another market place on the parking lot with … more touristic crap.
“But what about up north?” I asked him. “I saw lots of boats there!” pointing to the direction where we saw all those different boats.
“No, there is only a road” he answered “This was the floating market, sorry!”
We walked away as if we were going for some shopping, but the moment he was out of sight, we fast walked up north. And there they were! Lots of other boats.
I took a lot of pictures and after 15 minutes we went back to the parking lot.
When we returned to the driver our guide knew we had seen the rest. During the ride back he was very quiet. Near Bangkok he gave us a questionnaire where you had to fill in what you thought about the tour. I was so upset that Johan filled in the form. But Johan was way too mild with his judgement. Only when the question was asked what you thought about “the content” of the tour, he gave a very low rate.
Back at the hotel we did not tip our guide and he mumbled something like “Sorry that the tour was not what you expected”
Did you like our pictures above? Well, we tried hard not to get all the other tourists in our photo’s.
Here I show what it really looked like, the worst, crowded touristic kitch ever:
Later I was told that each tour goes to another quay. The quay where they get paid by the vendors of the touristic items. That is why our pictures were at our small alley. So each tour only sees the boats which are moored at the quay where they stop. So yes, there is a total of 200 boats. But you only see five. The floating market is booming business.
Should have read wikipedia first:
A floating market is a market where goods are sold from boats. Originating in times and places where water transport played an important role in daily life, most floating markets operating today mainly serve as tourist attractions. One of their purposes is to allow domestic visitors and international tourists to be able to experience the culture of riverside shopping.