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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Floating Market

Published March 16, 2008

Floating Market
You may have seen pictures of Thailand..... of one of those floating markets where natives in their little canoes gather on river canals and exchange fruits and vegetables. It had always looked very exoctic to me and had thought of seeing it someday. And on a recent trip it alomst happened.....sort of.

I was actually loitering around a temple called Wat Arun (also known as "the temple of the dawn") earlier in the day and as I was leaving to get back to hotel one tour guide out of no where got a hold of me and asked if I was interested in a boat ride through the canals and see the floating markets, as if he read my mind. But then it was midday already and I heard that such floating markets are "morning affairs" and declined at frist. But since he was persistent, thought 'what the heck!!" and decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and got on this rugged looking long wooden boat with some antique lloking engine and with a long shaft for a prop. And to my surprise this highly "popular tour" would embark upon its journey with me as a sole customer on the boat. I turned back to look and saw this almost half drunk driver who asked me to sit perfectly on the middle so as not to rock the boat and hold on to a handle bar since the water could be choppy. A long time boater myself didn't think much of his warnings and signaled him to just hit the gas.

We cruised through narrow river passways brushing through bushes and trees and inches from houses and other boats whizzing by along the canal. Even without the "floating market" the tour was looking like run for the money just for the sheer thrill of not getting hit. Needless to say the boating skill of the driver left something to be desired as we cruised for half an hour or so. Driver finally slowed down and informed me that we were arriving to the floating market around the turn. I took out my camera and waited for this "climatic turn". We come to a narrow canal passage to calm waters but still haven't seen all the flatting canoes with farmers with their colorfully array of fruits and vegetables busily exchanging with others farmers. Then I hear quick whistle from the driver breaking the calmness wondering what that was for. Next thing I see is this one tiny canoe slowly appear from the bushes. In it is a guy with "I love BKK T-shirt" and a straw hat with a cigarette pressed between his lips and using both hands to muscle the row. As this canoe was slowly approaching I am like "where are the rest of the canoers"?. To my dismay the driver now says 'it is midday and most of them probably have gone home" conforming to my doubts earlier. See I knew it!!! Oh these dishonest tour guides!!! And this lonely canoer with no fruits or vegetables but with what liked like a small sack in front and an 'ice chest" on the canoe butts up against our boat.

Floating Guy – Welcome to floating market. Now you buy something from me OK….(reaches in his sack) You need Ipod covers?

Me – You got "I pod covers"??? Here??? – I thought the floating market was for colorful fruits and vegetable. Like in photos.

(Not sure if he understood what I said but being persistent he says)

- How about these?? (dangles few colorful key chains with "I love BKK" similar to T shirt he wearing)

- No! not needed thank you.

- Ok you take some bread then (Brings out a loaf of bread from his sack)

- "Me no hungry thank you". (i answaered in typical Thai syle)

- Not for u…..For fish

- The bread is to feed the fish in the river??? And why do I want to do that.

- You probably full (rubs the stomach with his hand), fish hungry. Take some

- No thank you.

- How about some beer then. (Reaches in his ice chest and takes out can of beer)

- No thanks

- No not for you – for the boat driver

- Have you lost your mind?? I am not going to pass the alcohol to the guy who is been driving
inches from other boats cursing at warp speed, have been splashing water all over and asked me to still perfectly in the middle earlier so the boat would not tip over. I am not going zeopardize this already "shaky' situation. (and now I know how why he looks half dunk already).

- Ok ok sorry…how about Pepsi

- For me or him??

- By two - for both

- No

– Water?

– No, I have a bottle of water already

– U no have…let me see

- (rolling up my eyes took out unopened bottle of water from my back pack) See!!!!

– (Touches the bottle) You water warm…my cold…exchange 5 Bhatt

Impressed by the persistency of this guys’s sales effort I nodded. He snatched and my bottle of water and handed his triumphantly. I handed him 10 Bhatt and asked him to keep the change. He sailed off with a big grin on his face. I tuned back and signaled the driver to head back.

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