Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Video and Photos - Floating Markets and Giant Dragon Temple, Thailand 2009

One of the things I wanted to do in Thailand last year was to visit the floating market. I had no idea that there was more than one (stupid me) and hence, went to not quite MY intended location. We went by taxi from BKK and arrived at a VERY expensive boat ride through the markets. We're not quite sure which markets we went to, perhaps Don Wai, either way it was ridiculously priced at around 1000 Baht each! This was probably inclusive of our taxi driver's kick back.

This is a short clip of the beginning of our voyage, before we were parked up against creek side stalls and held captive by our captain, until it was obvious we weren't going to part with any money.

Some of the goods for sale at the floating market...same, same, but same! It's tiring enough haggling on dry land, let alone a boat.
It was a pleasant day out, but our visit to the Giant Dragon Temple was the highlight.

Earlier in the year I read this article by Richard Barrow about Wat Samphran. I never thought I (our taxi driver had planned on going there) would stumble upon it.

The top of a huge red (more like pink) cylindrical building, being strangled by a giant dragon, could be seen from the main road. We turned into the drive way and began to explore this amazingly odd place.
Looking up to the top
The temple grounds are substantial in size and jungle like, lane ways weave in and out and all over the place. It seemed to be the home for Buddhist nuns and a women's refuge. We spent some time walking around the base of the temple while Mr Kitty (our driver) spoke to one of the residents, in Thai.
The dragon's foot
We were encouraged to strike a bell for good health, prosperity, wisdom etc., throw coins into a fountain and partake in some type of fortune telling/advice map on the temple wall.
After counting clockwise and counter clockwise, starting with my birth year or date? I can't remember, I was told that I shouldn't eat so much meat, according to the spot on which I finished. I am sure there was much more information than that, but it was lost in the translation.

The thing that struck me about this place is that there appreared to be many nuns/women living there, but no visitors and few worshippers. Maybe it was a quite day?

Stray, Mr Kitty, our unofficial hostess and I walked up to the top of a near by building.
From here we could see the dragon in it's full glory. Sitting on the roof of this building was a large Buddha raised on a pedistal. We walked around it three times, as instructed, in silence.
From this vantage point we could also see a dome shaped object in amongst the trees, which was in fact, the back of a humongous turtle.
This is the mouth/entrance of the giant turtle. Yes, you can walk through the turtle, which we did, after kissing the larger than life elephant statue near by.
There were shrines a plenty scattered throughout the complex of buildings, gardens and statues.
We also went into the basement of another was dark and cool, which was a welcome relief to the stifling humidity outside. Here we drank sacred? water from a lotus fountain, gave a donation to the Buddhist nuns and were blessed in return. The bowels of this building were filled with old relics, photographs, pieces of art and objects covered with cloth.

The women we encountered along the way were extremely friendly and endearing, going out of their way to show us around. They all seemed to have their own allocated areas to look after.

Oh....the floating markets! Here's a few photos. The remarkable wood carving that can be seen all over Thailand (I can only imagine the expletives if one these guys were to slip with their chisel)...

...Stray having a go at toffee making ...

...and of our lunch venue...delicious, Tom Yum Goong.



Catherine said... Best Blogger Tips

The floating market I enjoy going to is local. It's not for tourists (unless Thai). I've been about four times and for the life I cannot remember the name (my cold/flu is back...)

Wat Samphran looks fantastic. Thank you. I've marked it as a 'must see' :-)

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

Catherine, I'm sorry to hear your cold is back. You didn't find those lemons?

Wat Samphran was definitely worth the visit. Apart from its obvious differences to most Thai temples (I think it's Chinese inspired), its setting was very tranquil and intriguing.