So if you stay at a guesthouse in Bangkok, there’s a chance the guesthouse has a few organized tours you can pay a bit of extra cash to go on. The one I’m going to encourage you to avoid is a trip to any floating market. Sure, on the postcards it looks like a sleepy little market where the locals hop on their boats to sell vegetables to one another. And to be fair, on the outskirts of the markets, the quiet canals and residences are lovely.
Then, after a few minutes, you round a corner and your little canoe almost gets run over by one of the motorized long boats that, frankly, has no reason to be zipping around a market. And that’s when the illusion of a sleepy little farmer’s market starts to fall away.
Tourists almost seem to outnumber the ‘locals’ and traffic jams with the boats happen frequently, essentially log-jamming the canals with canoes and motorized boats. And suddenly it dawns on you that you’ve stumbled into a tourist trap. And the fact that you can’t get out of the boat until the woman paddling is good and ready for you drives home the trap part. So while you’re trapped on the boat, you’re steered around to each stall that sells the exact same thing as the stall next to it. Which sells the exact same stuff as every other tourist stall in Bangkok. A few boat merchants sell snacks and vegetables, but the vast majority of stalls are a trip of deja vu. “Didn’t I just see a (Choose one: dress/vase/necklace/tiny wooden elephant) just like that…?”
The Thai merchants have a funny habit of calling foreigners stingy. I wonder if they realize we just don’t need six of the same salt and pepper shakers in our house.
Eventually you’ll be let off the
tiny prison vessel canoe and allowed to walk around the land-lubber part of the market, which is what they had in mind when the phrase, “Same crap, different day,” was invented. Frankly, I’d suggest giving any floating market a miss–unless you know for sure it’s one that is legitimately a market used for commerce and not trapping tourists.
And, as a disclaimer, all of my other Thailand stories are upbeat. I just chose to start with the least enjoyable aspect because it’s snowing outside and I need to forget how pleasantly warm I was in Thailand just two days ago… See the rest of my market pictures here.