Sunday, July 7, 2019

Travelling Hopefully - Marketing Edition

I have a confession to make.  I thought the floating market was in Bangkok although to be fair five millimeters of rain and every market in Bangkok would be floating.  The particular floating market presented for our edification today was about a hundred kilometres from Bangkok southwest towards the border with Myanmar.  I discovered this when I looked up after about an hours journey in a minibus to realise I was still on a journey in a minibus.  According to our cheerfully disinterested guide the area had been settled by Chinese fleeing Communism.  Apparently they turned up with little more than the shovels on their backs and started digging canals immediately.

Their actions were prophetic because now, mere decades later I arrived to check out their floating market.  Mission accomplished!  We were turfed out of the minibus and bundled into boats to take us to the market.  This wasn’t strictly necessary, the market had a perfectly good car park, indeed our minibus greeted us on arrival, but it was a picturesque way to arrive.  We scrambled out of the motor boats and crossed the car park to queue for paddle powered boats to take us around the market.  As we did so a busload of Chinese tourists arrived.  Our guide referred to them as the Chinese army and hustled us into the queue ahead of them.

Having swapped one water conveyance for another we were gently propelled around the canals while shop owners took advantage of this semi captive market to try and sell us stuff.  Some of the more proactive had boathooks to make escape a little harder.  I presume the vendors know their market but pretty much every shop sold the same sort of thing virtually none of which I had any interest in.  I did manage to pick up a Thai football shirt or at least a football shirt with Thailand written on it.  Mind you it was written in English so I’m not investigating the authenticity too closely.

Still it was pleasantly cool on the water, there was a large water dragon just out of camera shot and it was fun watching the boatmen skilfully manoeuvre four boats into a space designed for three at most.  Keep your hands inside the vehicle at all times.

After the water market began to pall those of us who hadn’t made a dash for freedom were herded back into the minibus and taken to the train market.  This is a small apparently local market set up in a narrow space between some shops.  Also set up in this narrow space is a railway line.  From time to time a train rolls by prompting the locals to move their wares about two inches further away from the tracks while a mass of foreigners get in their way looking for photo opportunities.  There is an element of showmanship to the whole thing but the train is big and heavy and, although it travels slowly it shows no inclination to stop.  You probably don’t want to be an inch out of place.

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