We grabbed a cab from our hotel going to the van terminal (Ayutthaya-bound vans) when the cabbie told us that he could bring us there for the same rate they would charge us when we commute, we agreed, worst decision of the day.
We had great plans that day. We would go to Ayutthaya (by commute) and chill there for the whole day. Until our cabbie pointed out that it would be cheaper for us (there were four of us in the group) to rent a cab going there for 1,700 Baht (US$ 52). I calculated silently and realized that it would really be cheaper and less of a hassle for the group.
Until we saw an advert inside the cab about a certain floating market near Bangkok. The group wanted to go there, the cabbie agreed right away but the deal was that he would still bring us to Ayutthaya no matter what. And so we thought that was a great deal.
The plan was to visit Damnoen Saduak Floating Market that morning and then head straight to Ayutthaya afterwards (around 170 km./2.5 hours far away from each other). Everyone agreed and the ride to the floating market went on smoothly.
It took us an hour and a half southwest of Bangkok (90 km. away) to reach Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. The cabbie brought us to a tour agent near the canal and told us to transact there. Apparently, the rates were so steep that I immediately glued my fiery eyes on our cabbie.
1,500 Baht (US$ 46) each person for a boat tour around the canals for two hours, that’s an easy 6,000 Baht (US$ 184) for the four of us. I was like, Are you kidding me? We're all stunned. I was asking our cabbie before going there on the boat rates and he would just give me this Just ask them when we get there spiel a thousand times (apparently, he gets monetary commissions for every tourist he brings there).
|Our scammer/cabbie for the day|
I was really mad at that point. I knew that we could've went straight to the market and observe everything from that standpoint or just hire a boat from the market but our cabbie was acting like he didn’t know about all of these things (extensive research next time Carla, please).
I was about to confront our cabbie when my cousin pulled me and said that we should just proceed with the tour (a peace-friendly guy). Well, he’s the boss for this trip, it was his treat for all of us and I couldn’t just decide based on my fuming anger. My cousin seemed to be amused with the thought of riding a boat along the canals, I was not.
Two hours along the canals and small channels, we were given two hours.
With the heaviest heart, I hopped on the boat and my buddies were all trying to cheer me up to no avail.
We started from a narrow canal and head on to some village submerged in waters. It was literally a floating village (but not as grand as the floating village in Siem Reap, Cambodia). It was as if some heavy floods devastated the whole community which lasted for years. The water was, well, muddy and murky.
Lined souvenir shops along the banks were our first stop. Everything was overpriced compared to some items in Bangkok. We sped off right away.
Next was the Sugar House where we needed to descend the boat and check out the factory. It showed us the process of sugar-making (and some by-products) from sugar canes. We have that in the Philippines so we didn’t stay longer and hopped on again on our assigned boat, we’ve got limited time.
Next stop was the most awaited Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. The boat traffic was starting to get heavy because it was mid-noon and the market was flocked with locals and tourists.
Boats with fresh produce, grilling stations, ice creams, hotpot noodles, huge frying pans and other stuff dominated that part of the market. We, of course, tried everything we chanced upon.
First was this noodle soup which was prepared solely by a man on his boat. Imagine a huge tank of LPG and a pot of soup with the toppings very well-organized on this little boat. He got to serve everyone who requested for it, in no time. I love this guy. The noodles were just ok, by the way.
|I love this special holder for the condiments|
Next on our food trip list was Pad Thai. A lady was armed with, again, a huge tank of LPG, a large pan and the assortment of ingredients around her boat was game in making our stir-fried noodles. Everyone agreed that the Pad Thai was yummy, those Pad Thais in Khao San Road however, are way better.
|Freshly-made Pad Thai|
And then the coconut ice cream. We saw this man selling some ice creams on his boat and we knew instantly that we needed to try it. Everyone in our boat (including the driver) had coconut ice cream served in a coconut shell and it was phenomenal. We were speechless for about a minute and were all savoring the yummy ice cream.
|The best ice cream!|
It was the best ice cream for me, bar none. We had some more and savored it on the way to our next stop (we still wanna try some more stuff but then again we wanna relish the lingering taste of the coconut ice cream, it was divine).
I love how our boat food trip turned into a quirky balancing act. The passing on of the noodles and the money and the change were very challenging yet fun. Plus, the food is cheap here. I was starting to feel giddy and happy at that time that I totally forgot the cabbie and the tour agents who ripped us off.
Moving on, we headed to a Buddhist temple, still on the floating village, where you could take some time to check it out. Me and my buddy decided to just stay in our boat while my cousins went on to check out the temple.
Next stop, our last, was the Damnoen Saduak Elephant Village where you can experience riding an elephant. The said village holds some trained elephants for riding around a “forest” and a small stream for around 20 minutes. You can also feed them with bananas (which you need to buy from them).
Elephant ride costs 600 Baht (US$ 18) per person. Me and my buddy didn’t wanna try it for we really don’t get the point in riding elephants (if you only knew how these elephants were trained for this). But my cousins really wanna try it, so, ok.
|My cousins were so excited|
We waited for them on the café for 20 minutes and saw them approaching the exit amused and were laughing so hard, they seemed to have enjoyed the whole trip. They even bought a souvenir photo that was printed on a plate or something. I was having fun watching them having fun.
|I wanna see them roaming freely on their natural habitat...|
And then the end. We were brought back to where we started two hours ago. We paid the exorbitant fees and went to our cab where we saw our cabbie patiently waiting for us (we haven’t paid a cent for the ride yet).
Hi there! Let’s now go to Ayutthaya.
Ahmm. But it will be closed in an hour.
Hmm… We still have to go!
*Cabbie scratches his head and started the 2.5 hours ride to our next destination
Sometimes, you need to be smarter than your scammer, or maybe just play along with their games.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market