Eat, Cruise, and Love: Floating Market

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When talking about markets, what’s more fascinating than a floating market? Nothing.  Barring its literal meaning- hovering on a canal or a river, it is captivating to witness busy vendors offering wide selection of commodities and ecstatic shoppers/tourists on canoe. Who wouldn’t get astonished to see boats laden with dry wares, fresh produce, tropical fruits, and even food cooked right before your eyes.  I could imagine the usual Palengekra gossips travelling not on the ears of earth but literally on waters. You get to experience this on waterways and it transports you to a different world. I always fancy rowing the likes of Venice lagoon, but this delusion might not happen soon.

In the Philippines(from what I’ve heard), one of the least known floating markets is located in Sitangkai, Tawi-tawi, a one kilometer marine causeway. The people are called Badjao who live most of their lives in houseboats. As their way of life, they normally barter their seafood products to farm produce using their boats.  I haven’t been there and I am so keen to visit it someday. Although unrecognized, we can also see floating markets in Talisay, Batangas wherein vendors sell basic good like coffee, vegetables, fruits and rice to families settled within the lake. On a different note,  I would also include floating restaurants in this category.  Among the most popular ones are the lovely Loboc river cruise in Bohol, Lantaw floating restaurant in Cebu and our very own Manila Bay dinner cruise. These are to be included on a different post.

Bohol, Loboc river cruise.

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Meanwhile, within the region, we have Bangkok’s Damnoen Saduak Floating Market to explore. Based from our experience, it’s not too hard to arrange a tour. Along Khaosan road, hotels and tour agencies are just around every corners offering decent package for the Floating Market tour. Famous for being tourist-friendly, Damnoen Saduak  is a perfect place for “Selfies”- makiuso ba.  It only takes about 1.5 to 2 hours from the city proper by Shuttle or taxi. It might have lost its authenticity when it became one of the famous tourist spots, the floating market remains to be a reflection of what used to be the local’s way of life where water transport played an important role in their daily lives. This vibrant market is at its finest during the early hours of the morning before big crowds of tourists arrive and the heat of the day builds up. Usually, they kick off at dawn, and most vendors will pack-up back home by 10am.

The tour guide has already arranged for us a sturdy canoe good for 8 people. Aside from the shops along the river canal, you get to appreciate Thai Homes, tropical farm trees (mango and jack fruit) and gardens too.  If you’re not into artifacts and accessories, vendors row their boats loaded with foods such as boat noodles, Pad thai, traditional-style coffee, fruits (mostly seasonal-like Mango and pineapple) and Thai desserts I can’t even pronounce. Just keep in mind that prices here are a little bit high since it is tourist destination. Again, bring your haggling skills to work.

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

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*above 2 photos  courtesy of flickr (lili5555)

Fruits on display (taken during our visit with palengkenitas- Apple, Pearl with a photo taken by Ms. Faisan)…

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fastfood on cruise…

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Other goods on offer…

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Thai Home and Garden…

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the 2 fascinated gurls…

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If you don’t want to take the beaten path, there are several other floating markets in Thailand. To name a few, floating market of Amphawa, Bang Phli, Bang Namphueng among others. The famous Vihn Long along Co Chien river is also a good option when in Vietnam.

Though, floating restaurants are built by necessity or for tourism, I am glad to know that floating markets have been restored and maintained in order to allow the new generations and tourists like myself to take us back what Palengke life they have had and to let us experience a genuine impression of a riverside shopping.

I still dream of roving  the waters of the fabulous and romantic Venice.

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