Thailand Part 3: Damnoen Saduak Floating Market (on a budget!)

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A floating market was a must do on our itinerary ( I mean hello, that has to be one of the iconic images that comes to mind when you think of Thailand) and Damnoen Saduak is the largest and best known.

Originally, I had planned for Haley and I to take a half day tour to the market before we flew out of Bangkok that evening, but when the tour operator quoted me 3500 baht on the phone ($100 USD) I thought that sounded a bit steep. Still feeling the sting of our canal tour scam on day 1 I decided to do a little research and find a cheaper option. Thank goodness for google. After stumbling upon a few backpacker blogs I learned that it was very possible to get to the market on your own for only a fraction of the price, despite what the Thai looking to make a buck may tell you. I decided I would chronicle our budget journey in hopes that it may help other travelers, enjoy!

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First of all, prepare to wake up EARLY (I never said this journey was convenient, just a lot cheaper). If you are still jetlagged like we were, this shouldn’t be a problem. You will be traveling to the market by mini bus, and the first one leaves at 6, with another leaving roughly every 30 minutes thereafter. The mini bus station is located at the Victory Monument. Our hotel was located within walking distance of the skytrain so we incurred our first expense and caught the first one at 6 AM. Skytrain Ticket : 30 Baht ($.85 USD) 

We got off at the stop for Victory Monument and asked around until we were pointed in the correct direction of the mini bus station. By the way, I use the word ‘station’ rather loosely here. Don’t expect a bus terminal, it’s really just a lot of large van’s parked all over and 100’s of people under umbrellas with cardboard signs selling tickets. All of the signs are in Thai so you’ll need to ask (and ask again and again) for the one that takes you to Damnoen Saduak. After what felt like a million questions we finally found it! Hooray! We paid 100 baht each for our tickets and hopped aboard the van. Mini Bus Ticket : 100 baht ($3 USD). 

The van pulled away around 6:30 and the ride took about an hour and a half, including a stop for gas and iced coffee. The AC worked well and I brought some reading material so the trip flew by!

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Now, the minibus will drop you off at a canal dock, this is NOT where you want to be. If your driver speaks English, ask him to drop you off AT the market, not the dock. Depending on how in league with the dock workers your driver is, they may or may not do it. Haley and I forgot to ask, and our van stopped at the dock. Whoops. Immediately our little group was swarmed by several women with calculators quoting us prices for boat rides into the market. The woman that approached Haley and I quickly typed in 2500 baht (about $70 USD). HAH, no way Thailand, not this time. I scoffed at the price and told her we were going to walk into the market. “No, no can walk” she said smugly, “Only boat. Must take boat to market”. Laurin in Thailand on Day 1 may have fallen for that nonsense, but not Laurin in Thailand Day 3. So much knowledge gained in so little time.

Now some of our group had already fallen for this ruse and happily chucked away their 70 or 80 bucks and gotten onto the boats. Poor schmucks. The only other English speakers from our bus were two German girls who seemed skeptical of the prices as well. They asked me if we were really able to walk into the market, which I assured them they could and that they were welcome to follow Haley and I as we did so. The four of us started heading away from the docks and were pursued by the dock woman who kept trying to get our attention by typing lower and lower number into her calculator. “No walk!” she kept shouting at us, “only boat! Can’t walk in!”. Nice try lady.

“Sure we can walk,” I told her, “I read it online”. And with that simple statement she immediately went from motivated saleslady to a woman scorned by google. “OH YOU THINK YOU SO SMART!” she screamed at me, “YOU READ ON COMPUTER!” “OH OH OH FINE! YOU THINK YOU KNOW EVERYTHING, NO WALK!” (string of Thai expletives). Walking in to the market: FREE

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Thailand Part 2: Chinatown Eats & Adventures in Public Transportation

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We woke up bright and early the next morning and headed to Chinatown. We had planned to begin at the Flower Market but ended up being dropped off at the plain old Market (Eh…A for Effort and L for Language Barrier). Rather than hopping in another cab we took the opportunity to explore our surroundings. And there was oh so much to explore. Produce stalls. Fruit stalls (OH the fresh fruit…how I miss it). Seafood stalls. Hot food stalls. Bags full of fried things stalls. Stalls selling clothes. Stalls selling shoes. Stalls selling toys. Heck, there was even a stall selling nothing but sew on patches. If you want it, you can find it in Chinatown.

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After feasting with our eyes we decided it was time to feast with our bellies. First, we sampled durian, a fruit I had previously only seen on the likes of Top Chef or Chopped. If you are unfamiliar with durian (and you probably are because it doesn’t make regular appearances in most supermarkets), it is famous for it’s stench. In fact, most Thai hotels have signs informing guests that durians are not allowed in the rooms due to their foul odor.

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Durians have a thick, spiky skin, kind of like a pineapple, which reveals yellow fruit at its core when sliced open. The durian tasted mild and sweet but the consistency was unlike an other fruit I’ve ever tried, very creamy, almost custardy. It tasted ok but I won’t be sad if I never try another. On to the next treat!

Our next stop was the fried food stand.

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I’m not really sure what else to call it. The stall was piled high with fried foods. You pointed at the ones you wanted which were then roughly chopped, popped into a bag and covered with a sweet sauce.

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We couldn’t decipher what any of the fried foods actually were but decided to chance it and randomly pointed to three. One seemed to be a corn fritter but the other two are still indistinguishable. Everything tasted like batter and sauce and was generally disappointing. 0 for 2.

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I’m alive! Thailand Part 1 – Bangkok

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Holy hiatus! It’s been a while! In case you were worried we never made it home from Thailand…SURPRISE…we did! I have been dying to jump back on the blog and start re-capping and re-living our trip but true to form, life has been a little hectic. We got home from Thailand at the end of June and immediately began the process of moving into our new home. I mean IMMEDIATELY…got home at 2:30, started moving at 3:00. And let me tell you, moving is the worst, and moving while jet-lagged is the worst of the worst. It was a pretty exhausting few weeks, and as soon as we were done and settled I got very sick and was down for ANOTHER week. Add about a week’s worth of family and company in town once I was well and you see why the blogging fell by the wayside. BUT now I’m back and so excited to share our amazing trip with you! So let’s get right to it shall we? IMG_3089

Thailand was beyond amazing. It exceeded my expectations in every way and has quickly moved into the top spot on my list of favorite destinations. If you ever have the chance to go, TAKE IT, you won’t regret it. I have said many times since returning, each place we visited was so unique that it felt like 4 trips in 1. We got a dose of the big city in Bangkok, cooled off and slowed down in Chiang Mai, enjoyed the laid back, beach bum vibes of Koh Tao and then ended it all in resort like Koh Samui, plus a crazy Full Moon Party!

We touched down in Bangkok at 9:30 pm and taxied to our hotel in the Sukhumvit district. We checked into the Hotel Icon and were greeted with purple cocktails (their signature color) and shown to our room on the top floor right next to the rooftop bar/swimming pool.

We went to sleep as quickly as our jet-lagged bodies were able knowing we would be waking up to a full day of touring.

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Bangkok here we come!

The next morning we got up bright and early to beat the heat (not possible) and make our way to the first stop on our list, Wat Po a.k.a. Temple of the Reclining Buddha. We stumbled out of our hotel and into an un-metered taxi. Now, before you start thinking I’m a putz who did no research before traveling, think again. I knew un-metered taxis were trouble, but we negotiated the price down to 40 baht before we got in. 40 baht is roughly $1.30, and I felt pretty proud of myself for not falling for the typically taxi scam. Little did I know that cheap taxi was taking us to an expensive private boat dock rather than the much cheaper public boat I was anticipating. Thailand 1, Laurin 0.

The kind taxi driver dropped us at the dock and insisted we take a picture in front of this graffiti tiger/shark/robot before we were quickly scooped up by a tiny Thai woman with sunscreen all over her face.tiger

She hustled us onto a private motor boat for 1600 baht (45 usd) which sped off to give us a 45 minute canal tour before depositing us at the temple. Rip. Off. I consoled my bruised ego with the fact that she had started at 1800 and the realization that we HAD planned to do a canal tour at some point. The motor boat also offered a steady breeze which was such a respite from the stifling heat that it just may have been worth it.

I quickly forgot about the price once I started taking in my surroundings. We cruised through the main canals where we got water views of many of the city’s famous temples and sites, but my favorite part by far was the small waterways that ran behind homes and markets and gave us a true look into Thai life.

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I loved catching glimpses of people hanging laundry, eating breakfast and especially this sweet little boy who ran along the fence of the playground waving at us :) IMG_3002

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Time for Thailand!

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Wow, writing that title just made me so happy! Happy and maybe just a teensy bit stressed considering I still have a million things to check off of my to-do list before we leave and less than a week now to do them all! Ahh!

This morning marked my last day of work for the school year so the official countdown is on! My sister and I leave for Thailand next Monday and I couldn’t be more excited! Robert will be just a few days behind us and then the fun will really start! I am 90% excited and 10% nervous, mostly just about the logistics of Robert flying in solo and making his way to us. If you asked Robert his numbers would probably swing the opposite way, 90% nervous/10% excitement, but lets hope they shift a bit as the date grows nearer!

Since I DO have a million things to check off my aforementioned to-do list, I’ll keep today’s post short and sweet! A brief rundown of our itinerary just in case any of you reading have been to the Land of Smiles and have any must see/do/eats, in which case, please share!

Haley and I will arrive in Bangkok late Tuesday night and spend a total of three nights (two days) there! Our plans include lots of temple touring (Grand Palace, Reclining Buddha etc.) and tuk tuk riding and shopping. We also want to do a canal tour, check out the Flower Market and go to China Town! On Friday morning we plan to go to the Damnoen Sadurak floating market before we catch our late afternoon flight to Chiang Mai!

We will spend 4 nights in Chiang Mai which is where Robert will meet us. There we are scheduled to spend a day at the Thai Farm Cooking School, tour the Old City and of course the highlight of the trip… Patara Elephant Farm!!

From Chiang Mai we will fly to Koh Samui and do a bit of island hopping! Check out our digs in Koh Tao!

Monkey Flower Villas

This last leg of our trip is the least scheduled as we intend to do some relaxing on the beach, rent a longtail boat or two and just go with the flow! Robert is flying home two days ahead of Haley and I due to his work schedule, so we are toying with the idea of attending a Full Moon Party once he goes. I’m not much of a wild child but it may prove to be something we can’t miss. When in Rome!

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What I plan to do in Koh Tao….minus the thong bathing suit 

If you have any suggestions for any of our destinations, let me know! I love tips from other travelers!  As you can see from the photo above, I’ve been following Thailand instragram accounts which is a great way to see beautiful places and get ideas for your trip!

Signing off until I return in a few weeks! Robert and I will be moving in to our new house immediately upon returning (Eek!) so once I get settled you can expect lots of fun trip re-cap posts and maybe even a tour of my new kitchen🙂 Til then!❤