Saturday, March 5, 2016

Last Moments in Bangkok. Khlong Lat Mayom Market.


It was a sad start to our day as we had to say goodbye to Ayşe in the wee hours of early morning.  By the time the sun rose, she was already on the plane bound for home.

Bro and I would leave in the afternoon so we had the morning to do something in Bangkok.  I had it on my itinerary to visit a floating market and had planned to do that on our last day in the city before leaving for Mandalay but my sprained ankle put a kink in those plans.  So while the other two were able to make it to Chatuchak Market, I was stuck indoors nursing my ankle.   Grrrr....

So, when Bro asked me how we should spend our last few hours in Bangkok, I immediately chimed up with the idea of going to a local floating market.  I had done enough pre-trip research on markets in Bangkok, that I knew exactly which one I wanted to go to - Khlong Lat Mayom.

The owner of the hotel was working behind the reception desk this morning.  Very nice man.  The hotel is around a year old and he's working hard to make it a success.  He works the desk to meet his clients.  That's what all owners should do!  In any case, we asked if he could call us a taxi to take us to Khlong Lat Mayom. I was surprised when he told us he had never heard of the place and had to Google to learn about it.

He then fired up an app on his smartphone called Grab which is a Singapore based company that is the Southeast Asian equivalent of Uber.  When he showed me how it worked, it was exactly how Uber works.  The only difference is we would have to pay the driver.

So, we put our luggage into storage and waited for our car to arrive.  As quick as Uber is, so is Grab.  We barely waited five minutes before a taxi showed up and off Bro and I went.

Khlong Lat Mayom is located in a suburb of Bangkok so it was no surprise that we made our way through some residential streets before arriving at the market.  Bro arranged for the driver to come back at 12:30p and take us back to the hotel.  We got the driver's phone number before waving him off.  We had plenty of time and then some to check out the market.


As we walked away from the taxi, we spotted a few vendors set up  under a thatched roof pavilion.  They were selling produce as well plants and flowers.



I knew Khlong Lat Mayom was a small floating market so I figured we weren't in the main part of the place.  Moreover, there were too few vendors here.  I told Bro all we had to do was find the canal and we would find the market.  So we walked around but we didn't have to go  far before we spotted water.


And then we spotted people eating.  This had to be the market.


Then we saw the boats and I knew we were in the right place.  Looking around us, I realized that Bro and I were the only non-locals.  Not a single tour group or souvenir stand in sight! The was perfect and I was beginning to enter foodie heaven!


With all the food they have in Thailand, I am honestly surprised that there are no overweight people here.  I guess their hard work ethic takes off calories.


The bounty of fresh produce was astounding.  I am so envious that people here get to eat fruits that are perfectly ripe when they buy them.  I have to leave mine on the countertop to ripen.  The taste is so not the same when you don't eat a sun ripened fruit.


Above ground, market straddles a bridge.  Below ground, we had to crouch down to pass under the short gap between the bridge and the concrete walkway that runs alongside the canal.


By Thai floating market standards, Khlong Lat Mayom is not considered to be big but the fact that it is a neighborhood market gives it a local vibe that you don't find in the larger floating markets e.g., Damnoen Saduak that cater to tourists.  This place was busy but not packed with people.  You could easily walk up to a vendor and look at what they had for sale - no need to jostle to get up front.


The Fruit Obsessed One aka Bro is a mango freak and ever since he had his first taste of one, which he thinks was the famous Nam Dok Mai, in Koh Lanta, it was no surprise he had his eyes out for another one.  He noticed a woman buying some and decided to chat with her about what she was getting, if it was good or not, if the fruit was ready to eat....etc.  After she left, he bought one :-)



We just wandered about the market checking out the produce, some of which we recognized and others not.  They have a dizzying array of fruit and vegetable varieties here!

Rose apples.

Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) fruit used for making drinks.

Gac is a fruit produced by Momordica cochinchinensis.

Gac fruit on the left and purple and white eggplants.

Agati or dok kae in Thai is the flower bud of a tree, Sesbania grandiflora, that is eaten as a vegetable in Thai cuisine.

Rose apples and mangoes.

Mulberries.

Kaffir limes in the bowls on the upper right.   I don't know what the things are in the other containers.

Have absolutely no clue what this is.  Fruit?  Olive?  The purple seed is definitely something very unusual.

Sea grape, a type of seaweed (Caulerpa lentillifera).

Bro has a weakness for certain fruits.  Chikoo is one of them.  I reminded him that we would be boarding a plane later this afternoon so not to buy too many though he consumes so much fruit each day, what would be a lot for me, would be little to him.


He took advantage of the outdoor sink to wash the chikoo.  Notice he has his bottle of water under his arm. No worries about using the tap water to wash our fruit - we've long grown used to it.


In addition to all the fresh fruit, there was plenty of prepared food to be had. Surprisingly, with the exception of many a few vendors who were cooking up the same stuff, everyone else was making different foods so there was a good variety of prepared foods to choose from. You could see that some people were buying the food to take home.



Okay, macarons are not a native sweet but I'm sure these were filled with exotic fruit flavors that a Thai or me would enjoy!

I think these were flavored and colored cotton candy.  Such interesting colors.  Wonder what the flavors are?

The market also had a huge eatery filled with vendors serving up different types of food.  The smells of the grilled meats was more than intoxicating.  I told Bro we definitely had to have our lunch here.


By 10a, people were already seated and eating lunch.  Yes, 10am.  Like most Asians, Thais are serious eaters.


Fresh scallops to be grilled. 

Chicken on the grill.

No need to waste.  Grilled chicken heads.   Not sure how you eat these.

Salt baked fish.  These were extremely popular both for eating at the table and for taking home.

Oh yes.  Grilled prawns. 

Seriously tasty and if I hadn't already had them last night, I would have bought some today.

So often, you try a dish because you see someone else eating it.  Such was the case when we came upon this woman making khanom buang aka Thai crepes.  There were two women, standing before her, waiting for her to cook up their order.  We were curious so we asked them what it was all about.  There was a bit of a language barrier but basically we learned we could get the crepes either sweet or savory. The sweet one had
 

That orange-y stuff, which I thought was shredded carrot, is actually something known as golden egg yolk thread or foi thong in Thai.  It's basically formed by drizzling scrambled eggs yolks into boiling sugar syrup.



We couldn't resist trying one so Bro ordered a sweet crepe for us to share.  I have no idea what all the ingredients are except for the shredded coconut but it was delicious.  Could've had another :-)


While Bro was waiting on our crepe to be cooked up, the vendor across the aisle caught my attention.  He was whipping up a very interesting salad  - filled with all sorts of ingredients from the basket below plus some from behind the counter.  It looked really tasty so once Bro had a quick look as well, I decided to order up a serving.


I watched the guy make up a salad.  Bits of this and that went into the dressing and then some shaved green papaya and small handfuls of the items from the basket.  It was all topped off with puffed brown rice.


Oh my God!!  This thing was beyond scrumptious.  It was slight sweet, slightly salty, slight tangy, slightly spicy.  There were soft bits, crunchy bits, chew bits.  It was so light and refreshing to eat.  Each bite made my mouth dance and sing.  I'm so glad I have the pictures and video because I am definitely going to make my version of this salad when I get home.


There was so much food being cooked up, it was incredible considering the size of this place. There must be enough clientele otherwise, the vendors would not be making money.

I loved this guys grill setup.  He's got a white enamel container, sans bottom, to funnel the heat up to the surface - his way of controlling the flame.


There were quite a few vendors selling these sorts of things.  I think they are glutinous rice patties filled with different sweet and savory ingredients.


You can easily snack your way through the market!



In another part of the complex was what I would describe as a small retail area - shops selling clothing, jewelry, knick knacks, books, etc. 




We did a quick walk through but it wasn't nearly as interesting, for us, as the food section so we made our way back across the street.

Walking around the market, we also found out that they offer boat tours that take you, on the canal, around the neighborhood.  That would have been a fun and interesting thing to do but unfortunately, timing wise, it didn't work out for us so no boat ride today.

By now, it was lunch time.  Bro was hungry.  He decided to get an order of fried noodles.




We watched the guy cook up Bro's fried noodle order on a wok.  He was fast!  I have to say, it was a generous portion for the money!


It was lunchtime and the dining area had really filled up but we managed to find a spot for two.  


After lunch, we bought a couple bottles of mulberry juice to quench our thirst and then  made our way to wait for the taxi.


By 12:30p, there was no taxi in sight.  We waited a few more minutes before I called him.  Turned out, he had been waiting the whole time for us, parked in a nearby lot.  We were as happy to see him as he was to see us.  I'm sure there were moments where he thought we had bailed on him.

In any case, he took us back to the hotel and we had him wait a few minutes while we got our luggage.  It was then a short ride to the airport.  We paid his fare and then gave him a generous tip.  He was not only a very safe driver but I appreciated how reliable he had been.

At the airport, Bro finally cut into his mango.  His last taste of Thailand and you can see how happy he is.


We really, truly enjoyed our all too short stay in Thailand but we know for certain that we'll be back one day as we want to see more of the country.  So, it's not a goodbye but a see you later for Thailand!  In the meantime, I happily leave a few kilos heavier :-)