River tours in Bangkok, Thailand include: beautiful palm trees, colorful homes, families waving as we pass and… four-foot komodo dragons that crawl into the boat while it’s moving.
Our boat driver yelled, not even out of terror but to signal us to look. Rach and I turned around just as he had the lizard by the back and was sliding it over the boat’s side back into the water.
We both screamed and started laughing along with the driver, happy our toes hadn’t been bitten off. Small victories here in Thailand.
All three of us look forward again and cruised on, switching focus and taking in all the sights of the Amphawa Floating Market.
The Amphawa Market has been around since at least 1766, during the reign of King Prasat Thong. Amphawa was an area that thrived at this time as an agricultural haven, and still is today. The majority of customers are Thai locals, unlike the rivaling Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. This is also a great weekend market to visit, but apparently attracts more tourists than Amphawa.
After getting dropped off by our bus near the market, Rach and I walked under a canopy of umbrellas leading to the docks, vendors trying to stay cool as they set up their merchandise. We wandered along the river stopping at shops. Families live in riverside homes along the market. We watched a little boy wade into the river and cast his net out repeatedly, hoping for a fish.
Around 11 a.m., the thin canoe-like boats start arriving, pulling up to the docks. There is something for everyone: fresh seafood, vibrant fruit, huge metal bowls with flames underneath where the vegetables are tossed and cooked into the most delicious stir-fry. Locals climb down the stairs to the boats in the river and fight to bargain down prices; even through the heated chatter there is a friendliness, an acknowledgement between customer and seller about their roles.
Rachel and I try to employ some of this savvy bargaining when we ask about boat tours; we manage to get a discount, which I like to believe was our persistence and know-how (but, I’m pretty sure the woman running the tours just wanted our weird hand gestures to end).
We had a boat to ourselves and our driver was the best. Besides saving us from that lizard sea monster, he pointed out temples and uniquely crafted homes.
The culture here is so unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, and the locals are proud of that fact. They work to show you sides of their country that are not only historic, but thought-provoking as well.
I want to learn everything I can about this culture and the people who live it. I am so glad the locals we’ve met seem on board with this too.
Follow Anna’s world travels:
Surfing in Lagos, Portugal
Spain & Portugal
Running with the Bulls in Pamplona
Buddhist Meditation Retreat
26 year-old Anna Idler lives in Montgomery County, PA and is a freelance writer for Montco Happening. To learn more about her travels, check out her website Outlaw Summer.