Spirit City: Damnoen Saduak and Elephant Village

First time visitors to Thailand must include a trip to the floating market and an elephant ride on their itinerary. I’ve always been intrigued with the thought of a floating market so I was excited to visit the Damnoen Saduak, Thailand’s most famous floating market. It has made appearances in several films including James Bond’s The Man With The Golden Gun, Bangkok Dangerous, and an episode in America’s Next Top Model Cycle 6.

Unfortunately, because of the publicity, the market has become a tourist trap, with vendors selling souvenir items and packed food instead of authentic market chow like fruits and vegetables. I knew beforehand that it was going to be like this, but after all, this was where it all happened. I didn’t have any regrets and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. A little warning, though. Don’t buy anything here because the prices are jacked up.

On our way to the market, I was amazed at the community that built itself along the river. Houses lined the banks, with terraces and porches just above the water. It was a romantic (if not mosquito-ridden) way to live even though the water was murky green. I noticed the resemblance to many rivers in the Philippines, except ours isn’t publicized as much. Right then and there I promised to travel around my country besides the world.

On the same day, we visited the Elephant Village and rode elephants. It was an experience but I sort of felt bad for the creatures, who were hit by sticks to be maneuvered. They also looked sad; later on, my newfound friend Chelsea would tell me how the elephants were tortured just to learn tricks for shows. Our day trip included an elephant and crocodile show, and my heart just went out to the poor souls. Animal performances have this way of making me feel uncomfortable.

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