Monday, July 13, 2009

Let the eating begin.

Today was a great day! For anyone ever coming, or planning on coming to visit Bangkok, this is a must do. During my months of planning for this trip, I came across the name of a tour guide who was well-regarded on Fodors. People talked about her all the time and there have seriously been panic posts made if someone couldn't get a hold of her. Her name is Tong from I contacted Tong immediately (which was a good thing because apparently she is always booked up and I happened to be able to get a spot with her 2 months before leaving) and arranged for a trip to the floating market and her "secret spot" which is no longer a secret. This was a spectacular day that we both truly enjoyed!

We started with a panicked call from Tong who was stuck in traffic. Apparently there were some types of demonstrations today in the city. No worries, she showed up at 7:30 (versus the scheduled 7) which was fine, being that 30 minutes late is my norm :)

Immediately we loved Tong. There is something about her that draws people to her which becomes more evident as the day goes on. She is very friendly, very open and honest, and you just know you can trust her (which isn't the case with many of the tour guides and tourist-service people here). We started to head out of town, talking non-stop (both Dave and Carrie) and made our first "happy" (bathroom) stop for the day. This place was really great. Since Tong and her team do not take any commission from places they visit, they are able to take you to very private places which aren't visited much by tourists. This stop was at a factory where they hand paint bone-china, mainly for the King and Queen and other famous people, so you can imagine how intricate the designs were. The work was absolutely amazing. She told us that it takes around 3 days to complete one set.

It was a "happy stop" before we headed to the train market. Why do they call it the train market you may ask? Because a train literally goes right through the market. People set up their fruit stands right over the train tracks. Eight times a day, they get a 3 minute warning where they then move all of the fruit off the tracks, pull back the overhead hangings and watch the train go by. Luckily, the train was running 3 minutes late, so we made it in time to see. This was crazy as the train literally skims the piles of fruit. It was so much fun to see how fast the people move and how they have the action down-pat.

We had talked to Tong about how we had never tried Durian, so no time like the present. She got us a few pieces and we had the opportunity to try the smelly fruit that we had been smelling since our arrival in Cambodia (it is everywhere! You cannot get away from it). It is very creamy and Dave wasn't a fan of the texture. I thought it was interesting and the more I ate it, the more I enjoyed it. Now I can cross it off my list of things I have to do. We also tried coconut puffs with spring onions. These were similar to the coconut pancake we had in Vietnam, but the spring onion added a special touch. Back in the car and we were off.

Now, you may ask why we call this post the "Let the eating begin" post. Well, this is why. Note to foodies, if you enjoy food and you want someone to show you what to eat and where, this is the tour for you.

We headed off to the floating market outside of Bangkok. Being part of Tong's group, you do this the real way. We got into a row boat (not a motorized one) and headed out. Instantly, food was being purchased for us left and right. We started off with with rice with red pork. This was a great dish which consisted of rice, pork and a red sauce. Delicious and a great way to start the day. As we moved, all of a sudden we had fried bananas and fried bananas with coconut (although we're convinced they were friend mangoes with coconut) in our face. Next stop, BBQ chicken and pork on a stick. The chicken tasted like wings and were really good. The pork was fantastic. All the bones we accumulated were saved and later used to feed Tong's ususals (dogs along the way that wait for her everyday). Next up, iced coffee in a bag. This was really nice and refreshing and literally we drank out of a bag.

We kept on moving through the floating market passing all of the souvenirs stands (I think Dave and I are finally shopped out), picking up some mangostines and pomelo's to try. At this point, we hit a palm factory where most of the boats turn around. But not us, Tong had another treat in store. She takes you further into the canal system to see how the people in the village really live. But of
course, food is needed to keep the energy up, so we stopped at the next boat (which is missed by most tourists and is really a shame) and got two pork bowls with noodles, done in 2 different styles. One was a soup, one not, but both spicy and absolutely delicious! We kept on eating as we floated past the many beautiful thai houses and really had a nice (but wet in the rain) time out of the city. Plus, we were so full!

When we got back on shore, we walked through all of the souvenir stands and confirmed that we were shopped out, we made it to the car without one bag! We headed out with one more "happy" stop to make before we got to the next big attraction. This was at a real Thai carving workshop and was amazing! Someone drew out the picture that was to be carved in the teak wood and then people sat and carved the most intricate pieces of work. We saw HUGE commissions from people all over the world. I really am fascinated by how these people can look at this piece of wood and see a jungle scene. Just amazing.

We made our "happy" break and then off to the fishing village. So far, this day has been wonderful, but it is only the beginning...


  1. You really had an interesting day! You certainly were fortunate go hook up with Tong! It seems like you had a fun-filled day!
    Hopefully, the days to follow will be just as delightful! We will be anxious to hear!
    Cody continues to do really well! Dad I am afraid is really, really going to miss him - they have bcome great buddies and I think he is a very sweet dog that loves to play and really is quite amusing and smart!!!!

    Love mom

  2. Wow!!!
    What a great blog. My wife and I are doing the Floating market and Fishing Village with Tong in January for our 25th wedding anniversary. I sincerely hope we get to do everything that you guys did. Can you purchace the china that you talked about? also any tips or suggestions for us before we go with Tong??
    mark and Susie Colorado USA