Published on: 10th Jan 2018
I actually did not plan to visit it because of its distance and the limitedtime we had in Bangkok; Visiting this place will take one day out of our already busy schedule, but Xiaoyi’s daughter mentioned that they will be going there and that we are welcome to come along. I knew Xiaoyi wants to spend as much time as possible with them (and especially the grandchild) so we went along.
They hired one of those “limousine” taxis (a Toyota Quantum minibus with a luxurious interior outfit) to pick us up at 7 am for this day outing. In photography terms, this would already raise a huge red flag; leaving an hour after sunrise means arriving 3 hours after sunrise. This is not an outing with photography in mind.
We arrived at about 9 am and were taken to a place where we were told to buy a ticket to be taken with a long boat to the floating market. I was really not impressed as this is not how I envisaged this trip. I even brought a tripod along and all the great photos I saw on the internet of these places weretaken from a high vantage point. Being on a boat will make this impossible. I asked whether we will be able to get off the boat but was also told that this is not possible. The ticket seller and our driver were not helpful at all as if they all of a sudden do not understand any English. I showed them photos on my phone of what we want to photograph but they insisted that we need to buy a ticket for the boat to see the market. The ticket costs 2000Baht (roughly R750 in my South African frame of reference!) We eventually gave in, bought the ticket and went on our boat trip as it seemed to be the only way to go about it.
Only during the boat trip did we start to realise that we fell for one of the oldest traps; the driver stopped about 2 kilometres before arriving at the actual market and obviously got some commission to get us on one of these boats.
The boat ride took about 1 hour 30 minutes through a maze of narrow water canals with small shops or stalls lined up on both sides of the canals. The boats are equipped with old Toyota engines and all of them need a serious overhaul -they are polluting the air with a mixture of petrol and oil fumes to the extent that we sometimes had to cover our noses when one is passing us. The idea is that the boat stops at each of these shops and you shop from the “comfort of your boat". It is actually the opposite of the real floating market. The market does not come to you on boats anymore, you rather go shopping with a boat! Not very dissimilar to a taxi - just much more expensive. Most of these shops only sell souvenirs or eats or drinks.
This blatant misleading of foreigners to get them to spend money seems to be common practice in Thailand and we experienced it quite often during our trip. In many cases, it was by people who seem to be legit tour guides/operators and even officials and religious "leaders".
I really found it difficult to get any interesting, well composed and sharp photos from our speeding water taxi.
En route we passed an area which was obviously the actual market as there were other tourists walking along the sides of the canal photographing us! There were also some boats in the water selling their wares, mostly the same stuff we saw in the stalls along the canals.
We were not allowed to get off the boat – we paid to be taken around and that was what we will be doing…
At the end of our (frustrating and boring) journey, we insisted our driver taking us to the actual market so that we can actually walk around and take some photos.
Even this was not really a good photo opportunity anymore as these “water taxis” took over the area and create huge traffic jams in the canals. The charm of the ladies selling their fresh produce from their boats is long gone and you will only see it printed on a t-shirt nowadays.
It is actually very sad.
I wandered off and found an area (behind the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Museum) which seems to be part of the original canal system where the locals still live next to the water going about their daily activities - without any of these water taxis in sight.
This area was more what I expected to see and eventually, I managed to get a photo or two which I liked.
Tip. If you plan to go there with photography in mind, then I suggest to arrive at sunrise or just before sunrise – long before the tourists will arrive. This will be the time that the locals get themselves ready for the tourists and will most likely create much better photo opportunities.
(If you have read up to here and did not click on a photo yet, do so to see them in larger format and also to browse through the rest of this gallery)