Bangkok Day 2

Trip Start Mar 18, 2011
Trip End Apr 15, 2011

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Well here we are, the last day of our long and wonderful vacation. Once again Jerry came to pick us up, however today he came at 7 am. We are going to a floating market outside of Bangkok. We were also scheduled to go to a train market. This is a market that is on the train tracks and when the trains come by they quickly pull all of their wares off of the tracks. You can see it on You Tube. But that was not to be. The ongoing Songkran holiday had so many people and another holiday market on the street that there was no place to park. We went on to the floating market. This is a market on a canal. Bangkok used to be full of these and there were canals all over the city. People's houses fronted on the canal and vendors with their wares in boats were common.most of the canals have been filled in to make room for streets and cars, motorscooters and bicycles.

We got to the market, walked through a row of market stalls and went to the canal to get a boat. Our boat did not have a motor, but there were some long tail boats like I described on Ton Le Sap Lake in Cambodia. Their huge motors made a lot of noise and exhaust. The market had stalls all along the banks of the canal as well as mostly women selling things from boats. They had a lot of touristy stuff but also had fruits and vegetables. They were also cooking in the boats. Jerry bought us fried bananas, coconut milk pancakes and coconut meat pancakes. The bananas were battered and deep fried. All of these items were tasty but a bit greasy. As we paddled through the market, if we saw something we liked, the boatman would stop the boat so we could look at what we were interested in, or the stall owner would grab the boat. The market is only open until noon as the stall owners also own coconut plantations behind the stalls and they work those in the afternoon.

We paddled down the canal out of the market and into a peaceful residential and coconut farming area. This was really nice and we wouldn't have gone down there if it hadn't been for the guide taking us there. There were irrigation ditches between the rows of coconut trees. It was shady and beautiful. Saw two kingfishers, that were the same shape as the Belted Kingfishers we have in Minnesota but they were even more vividly colored. This is probably my only disappointment on this trip. Just haven't seen many interesting birds.

We returned to the market which was extraordinarily crowded by that time. The boats could hardly move. We went through a spice stall and I finally got to try mangosteen fruit from a boat settling fruit. It was really good, I wished I could bring some home.

On our way back to the city we drove through miles of salt farms. They pump in sea water, let if evaporate and then rake it up. Each of these farms had a stall on the highway selling bags if salt and salted fish. We also saw pick up trucks full of roving teenagers with water guns and buckets, throwing water at people for the second day of the Songkran festival (This party goes on for three days and the dates vary depending on where you are in Thailand.)

After our morning in the market, we got traditional Thai massages in the afternoon. For $15 each we got two hour massages and in place that was very clean and nice. Thai massage is done with the client wearing what seems like surgical scrubs. I think they were traditionally pajamas. It is pretty tough massage. You lie on mattresses on the floor. The room Ken and I were in had three mattresses on the floor, so this isn't done privately. The masseuses are also on the floor and as Ken put it, they basically wrestle you. Well not really, they use thumbs hands and forearms to work on various pressure points. They also stretch you, crawling all over you to get the right angle for the pressure and the stretch. I found it painful but worth it. The masseuses are very knowledgeable, are very strong and even funny. It was a great experience.

We then returned to the hotel by Sky Train, which was full of wet teenagers with water guns, going from one designated water fight area to another. We spent the rest of the evening relaxing and packing for our trip home.
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