I didn’t sleep very well the first night because I’m not used to sleeping with an air conditioner, so I was sneezing for a bit. That, and Angel’s cousin snores.
We had a surprise when we went down for breakfast. It’s vegetarian! For me, I’m not used to breakfast as I usually bring a Tupperware of fruits to work and eat whenever I feel hungry. For Angel and cousin, they are used to their sausages and bacon. There wasn’t even eggs – totally vegetarian. I can’t remember what I had, but it wasn’t bad. And I ended up eating quite some ‘cos it was a buffet. 😳
On this day, we were going to explore the *ahem* cultural side of Bangkok. We planned to visit the Grand Palace, but apparently we set out too early for it as it was not opened yet, according to the taxi driver. So we considered the Floating Market, but the estimated fare according to the meter would be about 800 baht… and that’s just one way! It’s not looking to be a very fun day at the moment…
Then the taxi driver proposed to us: for 1000 baht, he will take us around wherever we want to go until 5pm. That’s like RM100 to go around town. Floating Market already costs RM80 one way if we followed the meter! And since there’s three of us, it’d only cost us about RM30+. And the taxis are really quite comfortable, even better than Malaysian taxis. Taxis in Thailand are Toyota Corollas. So it didn’t take us very long to accept that deal.
Our first destination? Floating Market, of course. It was a looooong drive there, about 80 kilometres outside of Bangkok. Thankfully, we have a pretty friendly guy for a taxi driver. His English is of course rather broken, but he was funny nonetheless. We kept laughing during the course of the day with our taxi driver, with his funny Thai accent and interesting grammar, to put it mildly. An example would be like this:
Our sweet taxi driver proposing the whole-day deal: You wan I take yoo alaau, holiday?
Translation: You want me to take you around, the whole day?
This famous forward mail is really spot on when it comes to local Thais (who are not fluent in English) speaking English.
So after a very very long taxi ride, we arrive at the Floating Market dock. There are many types of floating market and the one Khun Shop (Khun is Mister in Thai, if I’m not mistaken) brought us to is called Damnoen Saduak. The dock/jetty is just a makeshift hut and the toilets were *shudder*. But it was an awesome experience!
We went solely for the experience and we were not disappointed. Sure, the water is muddy, with plastic bottles and small branches floating in it, the place looks dirty and old, but it was a wonderful experience in spite of that. And of course, we tried not to shop to save for Chatuchak and failed miserably… Angel bought one set of those beautiful pictures while I bought just one piece, and Angel’s cousin bought many handmade flip-flops. They also bought some coconut pancakes which were made fresh on the boat of the vendor, and gosh it was delicious! I don’t like coconut, by the way.
Our boatman was friendly and loved to take pictures, even when nobody wanted him to, haha. In every shot of Angel (for she was the one sitting right in front of the boatman, while I sat right in front and Angel’s cousin in the middle) the boatman was behind her, flashing the peace sign. 😀
We had a small lunch on the boat, eating some soupy noodles with strips of pork or beef in it. It cost us 30 baht, which was rather pricy as there was so little of it. But it was hot and freshly cooked, and we were hungry so it was pretty tasty. I asked the boatman what is the dish called, and he said, “Kuey teow!” I laughed, because kuey teow are flat noodles and is a common dish in my country. I was expecting some sort of exotic Thai name for it. I guess we’re not all that much different! 🙂
It was terribly hot when we went around the floating market. Even as the boat sped along when there was little traffic on the river, the wind that blew across my face was hot. Thank goodness that the boat we sat in had a covered top. Some boats were without covers so those tourists had to use umbrellas to cover themselves.
We took about two hours to complete the floating market. After that, we went back to the taxi. Khun Shop waited for us during the whole floating market trip. We weren’t sure where next to go, so he suggested we go for an elephant ride! I was very enthusiastic about that.
When we reached there, though, it was around 1 o’clock and the sun was ruthless. It was so hot my flip-flops felt like it was burning my feet wherever I walked. The fee to have an elephant ride was 600 baht… per person. And it was only for about half an hour. Our money was dwindling fast by then and we haven’t even got to Chatuchak. So in the end, we didn’t go for the elephant ride. Not just because it was too expensive but because the sun was much too hot!
Back in the comfort of the air-conditioned taxi, Khun Shop took us to a nearby temple to visit. I don’t even know what’s the name… and it’s unfinished.
The sun was still really awful when we were here. After a quick visit here, we went to Wat Pho, a temple nearby the Grand Palace. We decided not to go to the Grand Palace for some reason I can’t remember. Anyway, Angel and I were wearing flip-flops and we couldn’t go in wearing that. Oh right, I think we didn’t go cos the entrance fee was 450 baht… RM45 just to enter it! Crazy… and you can’t even wear flip-flops to do that.
Wat Pho was another hot, sweltering visit. We were quite tired by then and ready to get back to the hotel. But before that, we promised Khun Shop that we would go to a gems store – the biggest in Asia, apparently – so that he could get some commission for bring customers. For every person he brings there he gets 100 baht. We did not have to buy anything if we didn’t want to so we didn’t mind going. After all, he did give us a very good deal for driving us around for the day.
Throughout our drive, we learnt quite a few things about Khun Shop. (Pity we didn’t take a picture of him.) He drives his father’s taxi by day, while his dad drives it by night. On a good day he can get 1500 baht driving the taxi around. I suppose it isn’t a good time now that he was willing to make that deal with us. Nearing the end of our day with him, I saw that the meter was running up to about 1800+ baht. 😮 He’s a Thaksin supporter and doesn’t believe in the present government. He would be entering some protest the next week, or so I understood from his broken English. He has a family but they don’t live in the city. He has two girls, around teenage age. It was interesting getting to know a local like that.
Oh dear, I’m really long-winded about this day, aren’t I? Anyway, we went to the gems store and I bought something I totally shouldn’t have – a pair of silver earrings that cost RM150 (USD$50?)!! I know, I’m crazy… I did like the earrings so much and it was totally me, colourful and flowery and all. Oh well, when you’re on vacation you’re meant to do crazy things, right? Right??
We got back to the hotel around dinnertime and were too pooped to go anywhere far for dinner. Angel and I bought a packet of fried rice, some soupy pork noodles and sausages from the many roadside stalls near the hotel. The food was freshly cooked and hot, so it was pretty safe to consume. We made sure we didn’t buy anything that wasn’t hot. And it was sooo delicious!
After that, we walked about Pratunam area, places where we did not cover yesterday. I saw some clothes I’d have loved to buy but I deliberately brought just a few baht out with me so I couldn’t get anything. I’m saving for the big one – Chatuchak Weekend Market tomorrow!!