2 January 2003, Bangkok
We woke up at 06:00 this morning, ate our breakfast, and then caught the No. 47 bus to Khao San Road. Things went smoothly, and we arrived precisely at 07:00, but for one reason or another our mini-bus didn’t leave until 07:30. We went straight to the floating market, stopping once along the way. We were ostensibly supposed to see how palm sugar is made, and they did indeed make palm sugar there, but most of the place was set up as a market to sell crafts to tourists.
We arrived at the floating market after 09:00, taking a long-tailed boat through the canals to actually get to the market. A floating market is basically a bunch of boats lining the sides of the canals from which vendors sell their wares. You can walk along the sides of the canals and browse the boats from there, but we each paid an extra 100B to take a boat through the market. The trip lasted almost 45 minutes, but it was a bit disappointing. I guess I was expecting something more dramatic or colorful. As it was, there were more tourist boats than market boats. LP said that the market was at its best around 08:00 or 09:00, before tourist groups (like ours) arrive. I also imagine it must have something to do with the heat and the sun rising higher into the sky—the vendors’ boats that were around were all huddled in the shade.
After the boat ride, Hyunjin and I walked around the market lining the canal itself. We bought some fried bananas but had no interest in anything else. At around 11:00 our group gathered again and we headed to the crocodile farm. On the way we stopped for lunch at a floating restaurant that had decent but very un-Thai-like food. We also stopped at the Royal Thai Handicraft Center, another tourist spot. This one, though, was much more interesting than the palm sugar place, as we got to see some really amazing wood carving work being done by artisans. They had a lot of beautiful pieces for sale, but most of them were way out of our range. I would definitely like to buy a piece someday (like an end table), maybe when we have that kind of money to spend on furniture.
We arrived at the crocodile and elephant zoo (apparently not the Samut Prakan crocodile farm listed in LP, which is really where we wanted to go) at around 13:30 and saw the elephant show. It was mostly just elephants walking around at first while a taped narration was played. Later on they had the elephants do tricks and kick over-sized footballs into a net. The show wrapped up with a mock battle. It was not what I was expecting and I actually found the whole thing kind of saddening.
We also caught the tail end of the crocodile show, which basically consisted of two Thai men poking crocodiles with sticks and putting their heads into the crocodiles’ jaws. This was far less impressive than the elephant show, but also less saddening, probably because crocodiles are less sympathetic creatures than elephants.
At 14:40 half of our group pad 200B to go to the Rose Garden, which is apparently a Thai folk village. Four of us (Hyunjin and myself and two Korean girls) remained at the zoo. Mostly we just wandered around and looked at the crocodiles and elephants, and some of the other animals they had locked up. At 16:15 we left the zoo, and we arrived at Khao San Road at 17:00.
All in all, today’s tour was without a doubt the most disappointing tour of our trip. Not only did the attractions themselves not live up to our expectations, but our guide was also pitiful. All he did was take us from place to place and turn us loose on our own. It would have been nice if he had explained some things along the way. Perhaps that is the nature of the tour. At any rate, this is the only tour I would not recommend—it was highly disappointing. Still, it was an experience, and all experiences are valuable.
After arriving at Khao San Road, we waked over to Dong Dea Moon for dinner. We had wanted to try the shrimp, but unfortunately they didn’t have any shrimp today. Instead we ordered the red snapper, which was very good, with some fried rice on the side. We then took the No. 47 bus back to Siam Square and, after stopping by the guesthouse, went out to Swenson’s to split a sundae in what has become a ritual for us.
We’re now back in the guest house, and it’s only about a quarter to nine. Tomorrow we will be touring the palace area and national museum, and dinner will be at the Royal Orchid Sheraton, so we have a full day ahead of us. My entry today is rather brief, probably because today was the most disappointing day so far. We did what we wanted to do, though, so I guess that’s something. We also met some interesting people, including David and Tony, the two English teachers in Korea. Tony actually used to be a Muay Thai boxer, and he urged us to see a match. I had originally wanted to go see a match, but Hyunjin didn’t. After hearing what Tony had to say, though, she changed her mind, and we’ve decided to see if we can get to Lumphini Stadium Saturday night (we never did get to see a match, which was a bit of a disappointment). So today wasn’t all bad.