Damnoen Saduak - Floating Markets
Trip Start Apr 13, 2008
29Trip End Jun 15, 2008
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First of all we had to get from Bangkok from which you have a choice of two methods - bus or taxi. As previously mentioned, in true backpacker style, we opted for the easier more expensive option and 1 ½ hrs later we were down in Damneon Saduak.
Taking guidance from the Lonely Planet, or bible as is more commonly known, we ventured down the night before so that we could be up and in the market before all the hoards of package tourists arrived from Bangkok later in the morning. We organised a boat through the hotel - 500B (9 quid) for 3 hours. As is always the case when traveling, if something seems too good to be true, it usually is
Woke at 6.30am and met at reception at 7. Guy took us over to the place we got ripped off having dinner at the night before. It was through them we were hiring the boat. We're showed a map and told of the "sights" we would be seeing over the next 1 ½ hrs. "I'm sorry... 1 ½ hrs... we were told it was 3 hrs". "Oh no no no just 1 ½". "Cheaper or still 500B?" "Still 500B". Right.... So that's the first sign of things not working out.
The second is when we are looking at the map and see coconut candy factory and other brain numbingly boring "points of interest" we have already been subjected to on previous trips. We advise that we don't want to go anywhere except the floating market - which we are told is HUGE.
So that said and sorted we climb aboard the boat and take off at a speed similar to that of a fish swimming backwards. Chugging down the canal we pass people washing their clothes, dishes, teeth - taking snapshots of their lives as we pass. Not long into it we pull up at a store selling the usual tourist knick knacks. We exchange hellos and say that we don't want to buy anything but our words fall on deaf ears
Not two seconds later we pull up at another store and repeat the process. I turn and ask the driver to please not stop anymore, we just want to go to the market. He smiles and takes us to another store. By this time we realise it is going to be a very long tour and a total waste of time.
My temper nearly reached boiling point, after having stopped at a few more stores, we pull up at the coconut candy factory. Having already been on a tour of one before we tell him we don't want to go and to just move on. He kind of looks blankly at us and stalls before realising he's got slim to none chance of getting us off the boat. Finally he pulls away and continues to the market
After about half an hr we finally reach the point in the market that resembles the scene depicted in postcards . Old ladies sit in wooden boats piled high with bright fruits, other sail by with people cooking noodles, or spring rolls, pancakes, sticky rice. Rapid chatter is thrown between the boats. This is good, this is what we've paid for. Clicking away with the camera we are momentarily happy. That is until we discover that's it, that one tiny place is it. It doesn't go on forever as we imagined, you can't cruise down canals and canals of similar. It is just one place that takes all of... hmmmm about 10 minutes to get through. Bummer. Glad we spent that 500B.
So now bored stiff and slightly peed off, we spend the next half an hr going at the same snails pace back through canals and past houses. If we hadn't already been to a million floating villages along the Mekong Delta we may have found it of interest, unfortunately we had and we didn't. 1hr 20 min after departing, we arrive back at our starting point. Judging from the looks on our faces, I think they deemed it wise not to ask how our trip was. How right they were.
Wondered back to the hotel where we got two motorbikes to drop us at the bus station where, we were told, would be a bus to take us to Chumphon
We board the bus and 2 hrs later arrive in Bangkok only to buy two tickets to pretty much return from whence we came and continue on to Champhon... journey time approx 7 hrs. Joy oh joy.
Our plans are to get to Champhon and get the midnight ferry across to Ko Tao arriving at 6am. We're pretty much followed by rain the entire duration of the bus trip so it comes as no surprise to us when we arrive in Champhon only to be told the midnight ferry is cancelled.
Having become well adjusted to such implications we ask the vital questions - do you have cable TV, how much is your beer, do you have rooms and when is the next boat. Our luck must have changed somewhere along the away because not only could we get on the 7am ferry the next day but they also had cheap cold beer, a spare room and much to Oliver's delight, were able to show the Man U game. Result. Things are looking up... except the weather which appeared to be getting worse.