We awoke at the ungodly hour of 5:30am to prep for our trip to the Floating Markets. Supposedly, these markets are only open in the mornings up to roughly 11:30am. We got on a minibus with a Vietnamese/Philipino family from Houston, TX. Our guide told us that she'd be taking us to some extra sites during the day, along with the floating markets and whatever the family from Houston had paid for in the afternoon. The ride out of Bangkok to the Floating markets was roughly 1.5 hours, which was a great opportunity to sleep... We awoke at our first "extra site", the coconut "farm" where locals make coconut oil, trinkets out of coconut tree bark, coconut chips, cookies, etc. This was random, and clearly a tourist trap. The locals were selling the same stuff we had seen in Patpong the night prior, only near coconuts. Neither Howard nor I were in the mood to shop, so we just walked back to the bus...

Our next stop was the floating market. First we took a speed boat to the market, which was pretty neat. The boat is the one found in an old James Bond movie (supposedly) and actually hits a reasonably fast speed (which caused a major splash of the very murky water below us):



When we got to the docks of the floating market, we switched to a canoe-like boat with four seats and a single paddler for us. This was an "extra" for our tour, and thus cost us $150 baht each ($5USD). The boat ride was interesting, taking us through a very crowded river, filled with boats of trinket, fruit, soup/food, and other vendors. Clearly, this market is entirely tourist-driven today... During our trip, we did get some amazing produce, including rambutan, mango, pineapple and other exotic fruits... The photos are pretty cool, despite the non-authentic/touristy nature of this locale:







After the floating market, we travelled to a handful of additional destinations, including the Elephant ride / Monkey zoo place, the snake farm (w/ snake show), the intricate wood cutting "factory" and finally the precious gems/jewelry "factory". All were like the coconut place in the morning, with a marginal connection to a particular theme, with vendors selling common Thai wares found on the streets of Bangkok (and surely elsewhere in Thailand) easily. What a sham... Howard did partake in the Elephant ride, while the remainder of us (me and the Houstoners) sat on the sidelines:


Turns out the father is an engineer at Shell Oil, and decided to take the family on a one week vacation to Bangkok (wife and 4 boys) to vacation and show their kids what life was kind of like for them when they grew up in the Philipines and Vietnam. They shared stories of the fruit they used to eat, and how it compared to what was available in Thailand (very similar). The boys had not been to Southeast Asia in their lives, so this was a very special experience for them.

Here's some photos from the Snake farm and Wood carving places:


By the time we got to the precious gems place, Howard and I could not stop laughing at how ridiculous this whole process had been. Our first image of this place was following entry. Tons of buses had been in the parking lot, meaning many other tourists were here against their will as well... As we entered the facility, we saw a young American guy with his wife slouched over a chair, desparate to get out of there. Funniest thing I had seen all day...

We finally were brought back to our hotel late afternoon. We trekked back to the Chabad House and grabbed an early linner. The food was again quite good. Afterwards, we came back to the hotel, rested up for the evening, then ventured out again. This time, we went to the Japanese-oriented block 2 blocks over from Patpong. Similar kind of place (i.e. still skuzzy) but interesting. We grabbed a quick dinner and walked around for a while. We then decided to call it a night, after such a long day...

Finally back on track with this blog... Tomorrow we go to Phuket for the weekend...