Markets are a great spot to get fresh local cuisine and try new and exotic foods in your host country. Yes, you will see things that you would never eat in the states, but be adventurous. Although, I would suggest asking what stuff is before you eat it! I visited Pak Khlong Talat, the main flower market in Bangkok. The market is located on Chak Phet Street near the Memorial Bridge at the north western edge of Chinatown. There are many flowers to choose from and garlands that the locals take to the temple to worship Buddha. Marigolds are very popular but the floral arrangements are gorgeous and like all markets, the price is negotiable. ALWAYS NEGOTIATE in Bangkok!
Bangkok is sometimes called the “Venice of the east” because of the many canals and water in the area. We traveled to a nearby city, Ratchaburi (about 100 km away) to shop at the Damnoen Saduak floating market. It is not to be missed! I loved the one of a kind experience of taking a boat ride through a crowded market that is entirely in the water. The shop owners will literally pull your boat in to buy something: souvenirs, food, fresh drinks! It is an experience that cannot be missed!
On our way back, we stopped at Bangkok’s Maeklong Railway Market. The market is located on the railroad tracks and when the train comes through (8 times a day) everyone moves out of the way and then resumes selling afterwards! The railway started in 1905 and the merchants were not required to stop selling at the market so they set up their awnings every day and take them down quickly when the train comes through. In no way does this market seem efficient, but it brings tourists because of how “odd” and “un-Americanized” this market is.
After touring Bangkok, I headed to Chiang Mai in an area of jungle and farm country. Chiang Mai has some of most significantly important cultural experiences that you can find in the country! Just a quick 45 minute flight from Bangkok, its best to see more than just one part of beautiful Thailand.
I had a truly special experience one morning in Chiang Mai. Now when I say morning, I mean morning. I was at the temple by 5 a.m. and when we got there, the monks were all on their way out! If you are not aware what the life of a monk is like, this is the perfect chance to understand their dedication and service to Buddhism. The monks receive food only from the people and early in the morning the monks line up and the cars start arriving. Usually blessing each person that gives, some make this a daily ritual to give back. The food collected in the morning will be the only food the monks will receive for the day. I picked up some fruit and participated- all are welcome.
Visit a Hilltop Village
Before I ended my journey I drove up to the hill villages to see the Mong school children. They were all dressed in their traditional clothing because there were special visitors coming. I was able to be part of a group of University students that visited the area to give out bedding and clothing to the local families. We danced with the kids and they showed me around their village. There are a few times I’ve traveled where words cannot describe my experience, but hopefully my pictures will. Everyone in the land of a 100 smiles was really grinning that day.