Bangkok, Thailand One
I arrived in Southeast Asia by flying directly from Doha to Chiang Mae, a Thailand community of about 131,000 kind, softly spoken people who are simply enchanting. I stayed at a family-owned hotel, Chor Chiang House, where the father, Kun Gon, took me everywhere I wanted to go, by scooter or van, usually refusing any payment.
I had been in Pristhina, Kosovo for five months, a much longer stay than typical because I agreed to teach English as a Second Language to native Albanian speakers working for USAID. It was a wonderful experience and my students were terrific! I had a great time and even got paid! But, honestly, I was ready to leave...it was cold, snowy...I had to buy warm clothes....you understand.
Then, suddenly, I was in the "Land of Smiles" with sun, heat, humidity, elephants, wide city streets filled with motorbikes, scooters, cars, and run open-air tuk tuks. I was immediately smitten with traditional music with loud, energetic drums, pastoral melodies play on a pii (a woodwind with a reed mouthpiece) and the khlui (a wooden Thai flute).
Chiang Mae was a new and completely different opportunity to let go and allow myself to be enveloped in sweet, loving ambiance and peace. Actually, I fell in love with this lovely community.
A week later, I took the day train...a 10 hour trip with serene views of rice paddies and countryside...to Bangkok, a bustling, crowded city with its own particular charm, as well as the incredible Grand Palace, the Maeklong Railway Market, the Taling Chan Floating Market, and much more.
Because the Chinese were present in the hundreds, I decided to pass up a tour of the Grand Palace, although I walked passed it through to hoards of tourists nearly every day.
The Maeklong Railway Market is jammed with vendors selling food, trinkets, snakes, and more, at the edge of the actual tracks. And the train actually comes through the market a few times a day! Vendors quickly pull their awnings and goods back away from the train's path to avoid disrupting their displays, and then, immediately put everything back, as if nothing had happened. It's quite the operation.
Due to the vast network of canals and waterways, Bangkok and the surrounding area, were formerly known as the Venice of the East. People relied on canals for transportation, and therefore people would tend to sell things directly from their boats, and congregate in certain areas to have floating boat markets. Fast forward to today, and although canals are still used as transportation in areas in and around Bangkok, many of the canals have been filled in to make way for roads, and boats and have turned into cars.
The Taling Chan Floating Market has survived this change. It's very hard to describe the Taling Chan Floating Market. Hopefully, these photos will help you understand the enormity of boating through the popular market.
(For even MORE pictures of Bangkok, access Bangkok, Thailand Two Gallery HERE.)