We got our first true taste of Thailand in Bangkok. We knew we only had a short amount of time here and wanted to make the most of it, so we went straight from the airport to Taling Chan where we visited a floating market. This cab ride was most interesting because our awful American pronunciation of "Taling Chan" did not register with this cab driver. He made several cell phone calls (while driving through the terrifyingly chaotic streets of Bangkok) to friends who had a better understanding of English, and finally we made a connection!
We were mesmerized when we arrived and wandered around (suitcases and all) through the Taling Chan Floating Market. Here we met a Thai woman working at a stand who spoke impeccable English. She kindly offered to keep our bags safe with her while we explored unhindered. Of all the scary stories we'd heard of Bangkok, thefts, and scams, she certainly proved there were exceptions to that stereotype.
Floating markets are numerous throughout Thailand, and it's amazing to see the traditional way of selling vegetables, fruits, and all kinds of other goods. Fresh, as well as cooked food is prepared right in their boats and they sell to passers by. It was beautiful.
Daily fresh food is a must in Thailand, as refrigeration is rare in many places.
It was 100 degrees, Farenheit. The cooking raised the temperature by 10 at least!
The catfish were jumping!
This is where I experienced my first meal in Thailand. And thus began my love of wandering from stand to stand, experimenting with new and strange foods on a stick! And Chang beer! Of course, for the first meal I played it safe with pork, a spring roll, and what I can only describe as a spicy hush puppy. Most markets are extremely cheap. This meal probably cost the equivalent of $1.50 and it was delish!
The Taling Chan Floating Market also had a regular street market, which was just as charming.
80 baht (Thailand money), is about $3.50 USD.
Don't you want to try something?!
The next morning before our flight, we went to one more market near our hotel. This was HUGE and indoors. It was interesting, but after a while, the mix of the smells started to get to me. There were no tourists in this area, so I feel like this is a more accurate representation of a typical Thailand market.
These are called Rose Apples. We tried one and it tasted a lot like a pear. This is 50 baht for 1 kilo of fruit. So, about a dollar a pound. She let us just buy 1 for 5 baht.
This guy was nice enough to strike a pose for the "farang" with a camera. That's Thai for "gringa." :)
These poor little guys were probably someone's lunch.
The stands went on forever. We spent over an hour here and didn't even get to half of them. There were also clothes and household goods sold here, but we mainly explored the food.
The food tastings weren't as successful at this market. We tried something that looked like a hot dog in a bun...it was not a hot dog...and it was not a bun! We finally were able to be satisfied with a toast stand. That's right. Toast, butter, and sugar. Hard to go wrong there! The nice thing was, everything is so cheap, you can try many things and not be out much money if you don't like it.
Markets are a huge part of Thailand daily life and culture. They don't buy in bulk at Wal Mart and keep it in the freezer for later, so it's important to have fresh food daily. Even the 7/11 stores have a market feel to them.
Our first impression of the markets in Thailand really set the scene for the rest of our trip. It helped us begin to understand the people and way of life. I loved walking through them, trying new things, and watching the people who made their living selling goods.