Bangkok Day 3
A trip down memory lane, this time to the famous though very touristy Damnern Saduak Floating Market. Took a 10mins ride on the long-tailed boat from the pier to the floating market … a route that passed by many traditional stilt houses that are located along the river banks. Once at the market, it was a kaleidoscope of colours. Umbrellas of different rainbow shades and local canoes laden with an assortment of food, fruits, vegetables, handicrafts and souvenirs. Paid 150 thb for a local sampan to bring us through the maze of the hundreds of canoes. A unique experience, we got to cruise right next to the many vendors, experience how the vendors would maneuver their sampans between the small gaps just to sell stuff to us, and how some would use hooks to draw our boat to their stalls so that they can try persuade us into buying anything. However, seeing how this floating market has turned out to become a tourist trap, it is no surprise to us that most of the stuff sold here are souvenirs. Bargaining here is easier as compared to markets in BKK. You know, Singaporeans just seem to be in love with Bangkok … heck, we even spotted mediacorp star, Elvin Ng in the midst of the crowd!
Despite being a touristy place, the “daily riot of colours and noise” it creates is the main attraction that never fails to draw tourists from all around the world. Better still, visit another authentic floating market that has yet been tainted by tourism and im sure it’s a chaotic experience that you wouldn’t want to miss out on!
Next stop was a detour between chilling at the elephant village or watching a snake performance. Having absolutely no interest in snakes and reptiles, babe and i thus decided to hang around with the elephants. It costs 600thb for a 30mins elephant ride, which frankly to me is quite an exorbitant price. Moreover, I previously rode on an elephant in Phuket so giving this a miss is nothing to lose. However, thanks to some of the tourists who were kind enough to share with us their basket of bananas, we actually managed to hand-feed the elephants! Such a heart-warming sight to see the female elephant using her trunks to pass a bunch of bananas to her male counterpart. The spirit of sharing! Either that, or the power of love.
The next stop has attracted a lot of controversy and debates over the way the animals are being treated – Tiger Temple. The experience of being so near to a wild cat fascinated us and so, we placed all thoughts of hesitation aside as curiosity got the better of us. Having read some positive reviews of the place, we went there fully expecting to see the tigers being active and lively. Alas, that assumption was far ( far!!) from the truth. In reality, what that greeted us were tigers that look dazed and asleep most of the time. Barely moving and tied to a chain to the ground, it seemed as if these tigers were treated as commodities or basically, a means to gain more money from unknowing tourists. It was highly suspected that the tigers could either be drugged or heavily sedated for there is no way that they would allow themselves to be subjected to being under the scorching sun for long hrs each day. We didn’t get to witness any forms of obvious animal abuse ( ie. mauling or punching of tigers) but the pitiful sight of those tigers being treated as commodities was an indication that there could be other harsh discipline methods done being closed doors.
To give you a better idea, each tourist will be escorted by a personal staff to at least 6 to 8 tigers to have a photo taken. The basic procedure is that you’ll stay with a tiger for 3 secs to have a pic taken and before u can even absorb what’s going on, you’ll be yanked away to the next. We smiled for the pics but in truth, we barely even have the time to comprehend whatever that was going on. There seems to be a total lack of compassion that the staff/volunteers have towards the tigers. Granted, we had the chance to touch a tiger but we felt so embarrassed and ashamed of ourselves in participating in this form of animal abuse. It’s certainly a place that we vow never ever to visit again, and while we know how curiosity often gets us intrigued, both shermin and i agreed that sometimes, it takes one to be there before being able to make a judgement.
On a ‘painful’ note, a tiger cub bit me just above my chest! Luckily, the bite resulted only in a slight scar. Imagine if it was an adult tiger, I think my entire boob might just have been bitten off !!
The final pitstop on our excursion – Bridge on the River Kwai and the Death Railway. Located at Kanchanaburi ( 2hrs away from BKK), the death railway is infamous for the many POWs who died tragically during the construction. It was said that “every railway sleeping car cost the life of one prisoner.” For a better understanding of the history behind the death railway, do visit the JEATH War Museum ( J – Japan, E – England, A – Australia, T – Thailand, H – Holland ). Due to time constraints, we were only able to scan through the many graphic exhibitions and stories of real-life accounts written by ex-POWs. For those who are wondering, the railway is still very much in use today though it only runs till Nam Tok station. Worth a train ride, the scenary for the last leg of the journey has been said to be beautifully scenic and breath-taking. Be in awe of the views of the river kwai and hills. The hellfire pass memorial beyond Nam Tok station warrants another day visit as well.
You haven’t been to Bangkok, if you dare miss out on their nightlife. Did some research prior to leaving and found that the Saxophone Bar is one of the most raved-about “MUST VISIT” bar in BKK and so, we left our anxieties (2 gals) behind and groove away. A hit amongst both expats and locals, Saxophone bar offers an array of reasonably-priced food & alcoholic drinks and of course, a cozy ambiance where you can lay back and enjoy the jazzy live music. A must for those who love oldies and jazz music. Similar to Blu Jazz in Sg. Spent a total of 640 thb for a dish of fried seabass, curry fried rice in coconut and 2 drinks. For those who might be interested, Saxophone Bar is located opposite the open market, near the Victory Monument BTS.
On this note, we would also like to express our gratitude to the young Thai man who approached to help us when he realised that we looked lost. Without whom, we would probably be lost souls walking around in circles, in a never-ending search. lol.
Next Up! Part 3: Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Chatukchak Market & Tranny Cabaret !