|Floating Market, Thailand|
|Ready for launch trip to floating markets|
|Canal with boats|
Soon the market appears with many sampans jockeying for position in the crowded market for the day’s trading. The sampans are filled with exotic fruits: mangoes, papaya, rambutan (a small red prickly fruit whose succulent pulp belied its outer appearance.) I tried a “love apple” but found it loveless. Bargaining is done from boat to boat. There are also platforms built at the canal’s edge where more traditional trading is done.
|Bargaining for Batiks|
Excerpted from Up and Down and Around the World With Carrie by Carolyn T. Arnold
More about the floating markets:
Damnoen Saduak is a group of canals about fifty miles from the capital city of Bangkok. It is the biggest floating market in Thailand. Its canals were built around 1866 when Thailand was called Siam and was ruled by King Rama the Fourth. (Siam began to be called Thailand in 1939. The name means “free nation.”)
Every morning the canals are filled with long boats piled high with fruit, vegetables, rice and other crops grown on country farms. Thousands of people, including many tourists, shop at this colorful and noisy floating market. The main canal at Damnoen Saduak, which connects the Mae Klong river and the Tacheen River, is 32 km long. About 200 smaller canals branch off the main canal and within this complex are three market areas--Ton Khem, Kia Kui and Khum Phitak.
Most of Thailand’s food is grown in the rich soil on its broad central plain. Water comes to the fields from the river through thousands of small canals, a system of water highways that connects farms to towns and cities. Canals used to be common in most towns and cities as well. People used the water for washing and drinking and boats were the main form of transportation. In recent years, however, most of the canals have been filled in and made into streets. (See comment by Aunt Carolyn above.) Now taxis, cars, and bicycles go where boats once traveled. People get the water they need from faucets connected to pipes underground and buy what they need from markets along the street. Just a few canal systems and floating markets remain in the towns of Thailand.
More about Caroline T. Arnold:
Perhaps the original intrepid tourist was Carolyn T. Arnold, my husband’s aunt. A single school teacher in Des Moines, Iowa, she began traveling abroad when she was in her forties, beginning with a bicycling trip through Ireland in 1952. She went on from there to spend a year as a Fulbright Exchange Teacher in Wales, to more trips to Europe and beyond, and eventually became a tour leader, taking all her nieces and nephews (including Art) on her travels. When she retired from teaching, she wrote of her experiences in a memoir called Up and Down and Around the World with Carrie. Today, as I read of her travels, I marvel at her spirit of adventure at a time when women did not have the independence they do today. You can read of some of her other adventures in these posts on this blog: October 21, 2013; October 7, 2013; July 29, 2013.
(All photos are by Carolyn T. Arnold)