Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Charming Canals of Ratchaburi

As the vehicle passes a bridge that crosses the Chao Phraya River, I saw a picturesque scene of the city of Bangkok with the megastructure Bhumibol Bridge shawdowing from a distance. The scene gave me a relief as the other day I failed to experience a river cruise to Chao Phraya River due to seasonal flood, The city lines and skyscraper buildings slowly fade to my sight as we get nearer to the site of our intended destination of the day. At six in the morning, we drove for two hours to the province of Ratchaburi to visit one of the must-see sight and must-experience activity in Thailand – the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and cruising in its charming canals.

The charming Damnoen Saduak Floating Market at Ratchaburi.
Small paddle boat tour of the canals.
I am personally excited when we were offered a short tail boat cruise to tour the canals of Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. It is because I only see this scenes in travel magazines and travel shows that features Thailand. Now, I get to experience this personally. The boat paddles us to the small alleys of the canals where in every corner there are numerous stalls of stores selling various items and souvenirs. Some vendors are selling items on their boat that were mostly selling foods like coconut juice and local Thai noodles and delicacies.  I think it is in this vendors that sells on their paddled boat where the concept of floating market started. I just find most of the items sold in the market were pricey maybe because it is a tourist site. But you can bargain on the items you want to buy, as our tour guide advises – “tawad, tawad, tawad!” (Filipino term for haggling a bargain in markets) whom apparently knows some Filipino words from meeting a lot of Filipino tourists.
  
Front view.
Souvenir items sold in the floating market.
Practice your bargain skills in Damnoen Saduak Floating Market!
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market were very popular among the tourist. There were many foreign visitors that day on the floating market.   While being paddled to the canals of the floating market, when we pass across the other boats along the cruise, I can see how they are being charmed by the market life in the canals of Damnoen Saduak. It is also in this tour we get to have acquainted with a Brazilian couple and group of Indonesians. Damnoen Saduak is one of the district of the Ratchaburi province located in central Thailand. The central town is famous for its floating market held every day till noon.

The canals of the floating market.
One of the boat vendor.
 Ratchaburi is one of the central provinces of Thailand. Ratchaburi means, "The land of the king." It is located 80 kilometers west of Bangkok and borders Burma to the west with the Tanaosi Range as a natural borderline. The Mae Klong River flows through the center of Ratchaburi town. The province is further subdivided into 10 districts (amphoe). There are many famous tourist attractions in Ratchaburi that showcase the Thai culture, tradition, and way of life. Tourist can experience the authentic Thai culture by visiting these attractions. The most interesting place for tourists who are interested in Thai art is the temple. Aside from  Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, which  became the identity of the province and one of the top ten famous places in Thailand, one can also visit Wat Phra Si Ratana Mahathat, Murals of Wat Khongkharam and Nang Yai at Wat Khanon to explore other places of interest in the province of Ratchaburi.

Welcome to Damnoen Saduak!
Are you ready to splurge?
The charming floating market while on a small boat tour.
Kannom Krok - a traditional morning dessert in Thailand.
Commerce is very active in Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.
After a floating market exploration, we had a short break as our tour guide who fondly call herself “Miss Bangkok” treat us with Kannom Krok. It is a traditional breakfast dessert that taste like small pancakes and comes in three  flavors - pumpkin, spring onion leaves and sweet corn. After that, we had a short leisure time to explore the surrounding market near the canals of Damnoen Saduak. While the goods being sold are tempting to buy, my attention still draws to the canals dotted by small paddling boats. It is very charming to see a day of busy livelihood scene in the canals of the floating market.

How many hats on bargain?
Souvenir shot with the charming canals of Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.
Traditional mask sold at the market.
Enjoying the company of Brazilian tourists!
Then we proceeded to the long tail boat cruise. The long tail boat is also fondly called as “James Bond boat” by the locals. It is because the long tail boat was used in 1974 James Bond movie – The Man with the Golden Gun that was partly shot in Damnoen Saduak floating market and canals and almost entirely shot in Thailand. The lead James Bond actor at that movie was Roger Moore. So riding a long tail boat is like going inside an adrenaline rush action scene of a James Bond movie! Isn’t it cool? While the small paddling boat were like a slow cruise on the canals, the long tail boat is a fast and speedy cruise as it is motorized this time. But beyond the fame of the James Bond movie scene in the canals, the scenes that I saw on the long tail boat trip is different from the busy floating market as it takes a different route. The scene here is quiet and calm as I saw the floating houses of the locals and their fruit farm lining in the banks of the canals.

The long tail boat also known as James Bond boat because of the movie The Man with the Golden Gun.
Sampling the rural life in Ratchaburi province in long-tail boat tour.

It is here I get to see the authentic rural life in Ratchaburi. The simple livelihood they have and how their day goes in the province gave me a new perspective about everyday livelihood in Thailand. At the end of the long tail boat trip, we were greeted by a scenery of plantation of bamboos along the banks of the canals. We then take a break after and get acquainted with other tourists. We savor our last stay in Ratchaburi by trying a local coconut ice cream with choice of toppings served in coconut shell. It was a terrific treat suited for the hot weather of Thailand.

A perfect way to end the tour - Coconut ice cream topped with jellies and cashew nuts.
The tour to the charming canals of Ratchaburi was an exceptional experience. It was here I get to see the different side of Thailand. I experience what is life in the rural side of the country which goes beyond the sights  of rich temples and tall skyscrapers of Bangkok. It let me have an enriching perspective about Thai life, commerce and culture. I experience how charming is the floating market wherein commerce is very much alive. I also experience appreciating Thai art and craftmanship in the unique souvenir items sold in Damnoen Saduak. And lastly, whether in small paddling boat or long tail boat, I experience how it is like to be in a James Bond movie!

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The Charming Canals of Ratchaburi is part of my Thailand's Amazing Smiles series where I share my wonderful trip to the land of amazing smiles last October 25-28, 2011. For a helpful trip to Bangkok visit Bangkok for Visitors website for more information. You might also like the other parts of the series: 

7 comments:

  1. isa yan sa pangarap kong mapuntahan! that kannom krok looks really interesting din

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  2. @Christian: and they are delicious too!

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  3. Very charming indeed. Gusto ko ma-experience to!

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  4. i'll try to include this on my itin when i go to bangkok this weekend. nag-ayutthaya ka?

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  5. @Gabz: Its a must in Thailand.

    @Vin: Hindi kami nag-Ayutthaya kasi kasagsagan ng baha sa lugar na yun nung time na pumunta kami.

    @Bridal Cars: As I've said its a must experience when in Thailand.

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All comments and reactions are highly appreciated.

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