Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Tuesday, April 3 - Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and Bangkok

After a really long day on Monday, we decided to sleep in and leave for breakfast at 7:30a. The breakfast was held at a nice hotel next to where we were staying. The had a great selection of continental and Asian breakfast food. I’ve found that one of the things I miss the most when traveling to Asia is the food from home. Although I have to say that Thai food is good and I enjoy eating it, just not for breakfast. At the lobby next to the restaurant was an tourist information desk. They were able to arrange for a driver to take us to the various sites we were interested in seeing.
We began by driving 90 minutes Southwest to the Damnoen Saduak floating market. We loaded up on a long tail motor boat and rode around several canals lined with homes, shops and food vendors. Once we arrived to the center of the market, we were met by a ton of motor boats traveling our same direction, and by stationary row boats run by local food and product vendors. There were people selling souvenirs, coconut ice cream, mango and sticky rice, pork on sticks, exotic fruits and other traditional foods. It was an explosion of sights and sounds all around us. After leaving the market we travel along the more residential side of the canals and got a peek into the people’s way of life. On our ride back into town, we drove through several small communities. There were lots of ground covered in water. We thought they were rice patties, but they are in fact salt flats where the locals wait for the water to evaporate to harvest the salt. We were dropped off near the Royal Palace. The dress code is strictly enforced, no tank tops, shorts, low cut or exposed skin except for neck, face, and and mid-calf. Todd was wearing shorts so we had to go across the street to buy him some traditional Thai pants.

The royal palace was filled with people. We walked to see the emerald Buddha. Photos are not allowed inside the chapel. It was much smaller than I expected, only a couple of feet in height. The sculpture is actually jade and not emerald. There are three Buddha statues right outside the building where people, for a fee, can pour water from a cup onto its head. There were several other beautifully decorated buildings in the plaza, but none were opened to the public.

On one of the sides was a large scale replica of Ayutthaya buildings before they became ruins. Next we visited the Wat Pho, where the reclining Buddha is. The statue is very long and there are columns in front of it every few feet, that make it hard to take photos. All during our stay we could hear coins clinking, but couldn't see where until we walked along the back side of the Buddha. Lining the wall are small metal bowls where people place coins as they walk. They have money exchange vendors who will break up a bill into change so people can place a coin in each bowl as they walk along.
We quickly visited the Wat Arun. A tall chedi decorated with broken pieces of china. The tower was steep to climb and descend and there were no hand rails to hold onto.

We caught the five minute ferry boat ride back across the river and were met by our driver who took us back to the train station. He recommended a restaurant to us that was excellent. Every dish we ate was good. After grabbing our luggage form the hotel we traveled back to our train platform. The train we took this second time was old and run down. What I originally expected to be on. We were spoiled by our train ride into Bangkok. That train was new and clean. The bathroom on this train left much to be desired.