Leaving Bangkok was more of a sweet rather than bitter experience. The day before I went to the Damnoen Saduak, the tour mini van spending an hour collecting people from various hotels around the huge sprawling polluted stinking city that was already beginning to swelter and in the early morning sun. The relentless streams of mopeds, taxis, cars, trucks, buses all heading into the city in frantic, beeping choking unison, a cacophony of horns. The traffic in Bangkok is like a great noxious animal that rarely sleeps and seems to draw energy from the sun itself growing more ferocious in the heat. It is frightening, the thought of what the future holds for this huge metropolis that, if it once was the city of angels as it's name is said to mean, they have all up and flown away, leaving this city to the 'jiin', or spirits that are said to haunt it.
The night before I left I got lost out on the streets with darkness setting in and unable to get a taxi. Even though I had the printed address and map of the hotel I was staying in, the taxi drivers I hailed took one look and said, no, no... and sped off. Then, like a sequence of a bad dream, I stumbled across a woman sitting at the side of the road, slumped over her young child, both apparently asleep. Around the corner, further up the road, sat a little girl who could have been no more than two years old, with night coming on, sitting there alone, begging.
One and a half hours outside the city is this market that is more of a floating tourist hell where the rampant consumerism isn't cloaked under any nice veneer. But within that there is still beauty, within the chaos and clamour there are distinct pockets of calm and clarity, the traders still resonating a warmth and a human touch that defies the conditions under which they live. I was blown away by the colour and beauty around me.
|This seems to be a Burmese custom where women paint their faces with white like this woman, it can make them look quite fearful|
|You can buy anything at the Damnoen Saduak Market|
|Care and precision in the midst of mayhem, the women traders of the Damnoen Saduak floating market are the epitome of Buddhist calm|
|Three generations of a trader family at the floating market|
|The amazing Damnoen Saduak floating market|
|Old trader in floating market|
|Damnoen Saduak floating market, outside of Bangkok|