After our first day in Bangkok mainly spent wandering around Khao San Road and hiding from the biblical rain which showed us what monsoon season was made of, we decided to get out and do some exploring. We wandered to a small market place where we took a tuk tuk to the Royal Palace. Outside the palace, which was sadly not open for the day we had a look at some stalls and to combat the heat went to buy a couple of small fans. Someone who was in the shop wanted to chat and see what we planned on seeing for the day, we told him we wanted to see some floating markets and have a bit of an explore around Bangkok. He advised that we take a boat tour around the canals, telling us that we would be able to see a small floating market and a few points of interest. He also let us know that we should argue the price down a little bit – and that anything over 900thb each would be steep. With that in mind we hopped in a tuk tuk to get to the boat.
Once we arrived we were approached by the operator of one of the boat tours who wanted to sell us tickets for his tour for 1300 each. We told him we hadn’t enough money for that and only really wanted to pay 1000 for both of us. After a short conversation a price was agreed and we parted with 1600 for a two hour canal boat tour. It still seemed a little steep compared to other things that were available to do in Bangkok, but we are both fans of canals and boats and were desperate to see something of Bangkok other than Khao San Rd so went ahead.
We walked down the rickety gangway onto a small narrow canal boat which contained one driver and two other tourists, who like us seemed a bit unsure of the format of the tour!The boat began to move and with a huge splash of water over the tarpaulin lining the sides we were off. We sped quickly through the first of the canals we were due to explore, it was interesting to see the way that shanty town like structures were coming off quite modern buildings giving us a very clear view of the social divides in the city. The interpretation of the word tour appeared to be very lose in the way it was applied to this particular experience. We would speed through particular parts of the trip and then slow briefly for any points of interest – which we were generally left to work out for ourselves. There only really seems to actually be two things we slowed enough for to get a good look, and these were some enormous monitor lizards on the banks of one canal, then the small floating market we were looking forward to seeing. The ‘floating market’ was a little different to what we had expected – there were about five or six small boats waiting for the tours to pass them, they would then paddle up and try to sell some general tourist souvenirs such as model elephants, and a hilarious fan hat that had to be seen!
After the market our driver sped back to a point near where the tour had begun. We left the boat feeling, not like we had been ripped off, but not like we had got anything close to what we had expected. There was definitely a huge difference between taking a boat trip somewhere in Europe and in Bangkok. Overall it was a fascinating day! Worth it just to see such a large part of Bangkok in one go and to see how vastly different parts of the city can be.