Date: 29th November 2010
My final day in Thailand… and I still made most of the time I had before flying out.
I booked myself for a floating market tour via the lady who owns Thai House Inn and she got it for me for ฿600 (Rs. 890/$20/€14).
After an hour long drive, the van reached a canal where there were other tour groups gathered near some boats.
Once we reached the market, we got out of our boats and were informed by our guide that we had nearly an hour here. But, if we wanted to boat ride around the market, we would have to pay ฿50 (Rs. 75/$1.6/€1.16) and it was not included in the tour package. Obviously, none of us wanted to simply walk around the ‘floating’ market, so I paid up.
And this is what it sounds like 🙂
I walked back to the designated meeting point for our tour group. It was time to leave, so we all got back to our respective vans.
I was under the impression the floating market tour was over and that we would be on our long drive back. But no, instead, the van took us to a nearby Elephant Village.
Now, I had been to an elephant camp in Chiang Mai back in 2009 so I knew what to expect and more importantly, why they bring tourists here as ‘part of the package’.
After waiting for nearly half an hour for the few from my tour group who wanted to go for the elephant ride, we finally got moving again. Next up, the Cobra Show.
Even though I had seen videos from the ‘most exciting show in the world,’ I did not want to wait outside in the heat again. So I paid the ฿30 or ฿50 it was for the ticket and went in.
They start off with the announcer welcoming everyone and explaining in fairly understandable English that the purpose of the facility is to ‘educate’ visitors that snakes are not all that dangerous as people make them out to be.
The also bring around snakes to you in case you want to take photos with one around your neck. And since I hate snakes…
The ‘exciting’ parts kick in when they demonstrate how the trained staff catch snakes. Which has to be seen in action:
The guy also caught three cobras, one by one, which was quite impressive.
The excitement continues when they bring out a snake’s worst enemy in the animal kingdom, the mongoose — and then make the two fight.
Here’s a video of the mongoose fight some more:
Thirty minutes of, erm, animal cruelty, the show was over. The staff went around seeking donations from the visitors, and I tipped ฿100 to the guy who caught the snakes with his bare hands, because that’s quite some skill.
Outside, there have a mini-zoo with a few reptilian creatures.
I asked our guide if the ‘tour’ was over, but he said there was one final stop. Ugh.
This was some handicrafts showroom where they specialize in wooden sculptures.
Needless to say, none of these wooden sculptures carved out of teak wood come cheap. Most of them were in the thousands of dollars (yes, dollars, not Thai baht)!
After another half-an-hour spent here, we headed back into our vans. I was finally done with the ‘floating market’ tour. As touristy as the above sights may seem, I still feel a visit to the floating market is a ‘must-do’ in Thailand. Damnoen Suduak is the most popular floating market, thus the hordes of tourists. There are a few other floating markets across Thailand.
The journey back into the city took a lot longer for me as I was going to be the last one dropped. I eventually got down at MBK to have lunch… at KFC.
With my final meal in Thailand complete…
Anyway… I headed back to Thai House Inn to pack up and check out. I sat down for a bit before stepping out again, but this time, without my camera bag for a change. I wanted to give my shoulders a rest after the nearly two weeks I strained them. I walked further down from Nana BTS to see whether there were better sub-฿1000 accommodation available so that next time if I do choose to stay in the Sukhumvit area, I don’t have to stay to at Thai House Inn.
Hopefully, next time I’m in Bangkok, if I don’t have much shopping to do, I’ll stay in Khao San road.
At around 5:30pm, I took the BTS to Phaya Thai station. They had only recently opened the new skytrain link directly to Suvarnabhumi airport, saving passengers both time and money.
The journey took just 30 minutes. Clearly a better option for those with less luggage. I was early enough for my 9:20pm Thai Airways flight to Bangalore.
Walking up to the departures section, I was quite stunned to see just about every Indian passenger heading back to Mumbai with a massive LCD/plasma TV in tow. It’s as though everybody knew how much to pay off the Mumbai customs officials upon arrival.
Quite ridiculous really, especially seeing many of them pleading with the check-in personnel not to impose excess baggage charges… because some of them were (unsurprisingly) way over the allowed limit!
I checked out the Duty Free, bought two bottles of liquor that my friends requested (prices and selection are fairly good here) and then went to the VAT refund counter to get my cash refund. Submitted my form and got 7% of the total value of my purchases back in cash. I mentioned this last year and I’ll mention it again: for the VAT refund, one needs to shop at stores that participate in the VAT refund scheme for tourists. Upon purchase, you will get a VAT refund form from the store and it’s only upon showing that same form at the airport will you be eligible for a refund. You can’t simply show a bunch of store receipts and expect a cash refund (‘cos I’ve seen people do that).
Sitting at my gate, I had plenty of time for a flashback. Another trip to Thailand that didn’t feel ‘complete’. Had I successfully covered the big lantern release in Mae Jo, Chiang Mai, I would have scratched North Thailand off my list and only focused on South Thailand for my next visit.
I wasn’t even in the best of health the first week, which sucked. Still… all I can say is that I did the best I could and I hope my readers enjoyed this series.
So until Thailand 201_, it’s back to India for now! 🙂
Previous posts in this series:
*Metal Gear Solid referance