Damnoen Saduak has been known to the outside world since 1967, its name literally means travel conveniently (damnoen = travel; saduak = convenient). Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is about 100 km (62 miles) southwest of Bangkok. It is the biggest floating market in Thailand. You probably will find lots of tourists mingling among the sellers of various Thai produce. The market opens daily from 7 am to 11 am, buzzing with wooden boats selling fruits, vegetables, crafts and souvenirs, and you should expect a lot of activities cater just for tourists. So, be different and do things that normal tourists wouldn’t do, that will save you from the ordinary, and at times scams and bad experiences.
Here’s the trick: if you go to a tourist area with a different identity, you will get a different experience. Of course, be prepared to part with some of your money as school fees, as you are well on your way to an educational tour and gaining a different experience at Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. These are 5 ways you may explore the area and the culture, the most important thing is to have fun!
1. Be a researcher
Researchers are known to be observant, they look out for patterns and varieties and they record the data. So, before you go as a researcher, prepare some pointers for your observations. Your research can be on the sellers, the boats and even the tourists. Of course, any other things that will help you to define your purpose is good to take notes on. You may note down the varieties of the merchandise the vendors offer, prices, sales method, quality of the merchants, etc.
There are many things to look out for, the color of the sky, the water, the peak hour of the market and even the kind of clothes the vendors wears might be of a researcher’s interest. If you can wake up early, be there at 7 am and notice the difference before the crowd attacks the market, or stay on until 10 pm to see how things are at night. Have fun watching the activities, but even then you can’t stop vendors approaching you to sell you something.
2. Be a photographer
Take photos with the people and with the food, collect postcards, pebbles, water, air, sand, shells, seafood, and anything that fits your role as a photographer. Take close up shots, sunset shots, sunrise shots, photos with vendors, without vendors; the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is ready for you to explore its beauty. Take a walk along the river bank and take as many photos as possible from different angles before the crowd breaks in.
Take snaps of the ever changing crowd and of the aggressive vendors, you may be surprised by the collections you will have after all the snapping. The good thing about this is you need not be a professional photographer. Using any device to take photographs is perfectly fun and enriching. As you search for the best angle to take your pictures, you will find the hidden treasures amidst and beyond the busy buying and selling within the hustle and bustle.
3. Be a journalist
Be a journalist and do some interviews. Get a translator (or just tip your tour guide to do the job) and go to the market, get on the boat and ask as many questions as possible about their lives, don’t forget the people along the river bank. To help you out a little, you may ask questions about the sellers’ age, family size, income per day, where do they live, etc. Your answers to the interviews can become your travel blog, scrapbook or just a travel journal for keepsake.
Do ask for permission if you want to record them on your phone, or take video clips, that will save you from trying to remember everything when you get back. Be ready with a fully charged battery for your camera or phone. Did you know what “mo hom” and “ngob” are? Talk to the female traders, “mo hom” is her traditional blue farmer’s shirt, and “ngob” is her straw hat.
4. Be a food taster
Be adventurous and sample the variety of food they offer. Boat noodles, and grilled bananas are some of the delicacies you might want to try. Other than cooked food, there are plenty of fruits and desserts to try. Durians, rambutans, mangoes, mangosteens, coconuts, and ice-creams are some of the regular offers. Vegetables are always fresh, why not consider having a salad with Thai fish sauce?
5. Be a trader
Bargain as if you were running a food business, restaurant or just a store at the market place. Bargaining is a skill to acquire at the touristy Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. From taking a boat ride, ordering food or buying the produce, all prices are just higher here compared to the other places. The Thai word for expensive is pronounced as “peng,” which sounds very much like Cantonese word “cheap” - with the exact opposite meaning though. If you do not know how bargain, learn some important words from your hotel help desk, also check the prices at other places first before you visit, then you will know how “peng” they are charging at the tourist market.
Handsomely rewarded with the extraordinary experience
Go to Damnoen Saduak with a different identity, you will discover its hidden treasure and beauty. The people, the water, the boats, the fruits and everything behind the busy and buzzing market are the precious moments you’ll capture through your photos, interviews or notes, and the vegetables you bought and the food you consumed will be always remembered. At the end of your journey, you will be rewarded with an extraordinary experience. The benefit of traveling not as a tourist is interesting when you are visiting a tourist attractions, so make full use of the ideas given, and have fun with them at Damnoen Saduak.
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