A friend and I checked out the Ladmayom Floating Market (or Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market ตลาดนําา้ คลองลัดมะยม) on a nice overcast Sunday. While labeled as a Floating Market, there were only a few boats in the water serving food or selling produce. Still, it was an awesome place to visit, offering a nice break from the city. We watched as the tall buildings faded away to long stretches of greenery and smaller houses. As traffic got busy again, we arrived at the popular market.
At about 11am, the area we started in was not busy and offered wide aisles lined with all kinds of knickknacks from jewelry, clocks and kids toys to various clothing items from shirts to swimware. It reminded me of a ‘flea market’ we have back in the States.
More interesting to me was an area setup for children to decorate square pieces of cloth. They painted with a resist medium then followed with a color, achieving a batik-like effect. I was tempted to make one myself but with the average age of the artists more than two-thirds less than mine, I settled for tasting some new dishes. What I found was delicious pancakes and tiny pork spring rolls.
The vendor selling the pancakes was setup with a small griddle in front of her and a cooling rack that extended out further. She was able to explain that they were made from coconuts but I didn’t press to ask why they were different colors. For a mere 20 baht ($.67), she gave me six of them, half white and others more red in color. The red ones were tastier, but all very good. Traveling deeper into the market, my goal of spring rolls was met with a booth selling tiny ones and fried dumplings with pork. She kindly let me try a bite of each, so while not the most complex flavor, I wanted to express my gratitude with a purchase. For the mere 30 baht ($1), she gave me a ton. The greatest value was her smile though. It completely lit up her face and made you smile too, worth far more than the mere dollar exchanged.
All through the market, we seemed to receive many smiles and vendors eager to engage us. My friend (from Europe) and I were definitely more of a rarity there. We probably saw about five other white farangs (foreigner) during our day. This added a challenge to some purchases as they were rusty on English and my Thai is excessively poor, but they would look to another person and eventually understanding was reached.
Within that mild confusion, we boarded a long tail boat ride to an unknown destination, although I believe the word ‘pier’ was involved. For me, at 50 baht, it was enough to get on a boat to see more of the area. My friend, a bit more discerning, struggled with the boat agent to figure out where it might be going. And so, it was a surprise to me, when the boat stopped after about 15 minutes later and everyone get off. Would they take us back? What would happen next? They encouraged us out of the boat though and arms reached down to help us. These arms belonged to a family that adopted us for the rest of the trip.
We went to an older style Thai home and everyone sat in a main room while the tour guide spoke about the house…I’m assuming. We did not understand a single word. Once he was done, a woman explained we could look around the house and the guide pointed to an article in English. I was lead to believe that we were in the Wat Jampa community in the Talin Chan district of Old Bangkok, or they had an article on that area, for some reason. 😀
The home was unfurnished except for a room that showcased masks that appeared to be from the Ramakien, on the second floor. On the balcony, our adopted family wanted pictures with us. I took a picture with the mother and my friend with the daughter. I found it pretty amusing but didn’t think to get a picture myself. The mother and I were twins in our beautiful orange shirts though. We peeked again at the gift shop (of course there was one!) and with the rest of the group out of sight, we left to track them down.
We were motioned to follow the path and where I wondered if this wasn’t where we would be abandoned, did courageously turn the corner and found some of the rest of the group. A small bridge took us to another house and garden area with some ladies selling food. Glass doors allowed us to peek into their homes but I didn’t enter. All said, we looked at perhaps five homes, the last being my absolutely favorite.
The garden outside had a nice rocking chair, beautiful tree, and fun robot statues. While I admired the gardens, a man encouraged me to look inside. I was the first to that wooden house so soaked in the dark wood and quiet. The house had three stories and was beautifully decorated in a fusion of Thai and American Southwest style (among others). A wooden bust of an American Indian adorned the wall, with tribal masks below and various skulls of animals to either side. Everywhere you looked had interesting statues and yet the open house plan allowed it to not seem cluttered, just warm and inviting. The man was a guitar player and many guitars also hung on the wall. I did my best to communicate how beautiful I thought the house was to him and his son. I would love to live there! My enthusiasm was noted and leaving, a woman gave me a card (in Thai) about the house, directing me to a website she said too quickly for me to jot down. A friend has translated the card and explained people could stay there, with the family. The name is Ban Sawang Jan (Shining Moon Home). I’m still not certain if it was for that specific house or another, but it is a wonderful little community and I imagine very peaceful to stay there.
With the rest of the group out-of-sight again, our newly adopted family motioned for us to get going. As we walked down the narrow path, they spoke a little English with us and we winded our way back to the boat (hooray!). One purchase of sugary delicious peanuts and we were back on the boat – in our exact seats, which amused me. The man of the family shared their coconut dessert, purchased there. To reciprocate, I shared my bread, to feed the fish, with the daughter, who’d taken to throwing peanuts into the water.
As we were in our same seats, we were able to hear the boat driver’s explanations again about the area…again ASSUMING that’s what he was saying, as it was all in Thai. I started to make up my own explanations for my friend, explaining the area had been used in the latest Superman movie but for some reason she found this unlikely, nor did she believe me when I showed her the house that was inhabited by monkeys only. Some people have no trust!
Once back at our pier, we wandered the incredible food stalls, probably over 50, to find something to eat. This area was very lively and each table seemed to have a huge salted fish along with numerous other dishes around it being enjoyed by couples or families. My friend and I agreed it would be too much for us and went on a search for another option. Vendors had various dumpling-type “knick-knack’ food, skews of meat or mushrooms, seafood or other unexplainable items. Her being a vegetarian helped to limit our options and in the end, we settled on ‘glass noodles’ with prawns and Som Tum salad. The salad while looking familiar had sweeter papaya and dried fish, giving it a different flavor. The glass noodles were not note-worthy. All of the other options with have to wait for a trip with my meat-eating friends, and hopefully one who speaks Thai, to learn what all of those fascinating this were.
The market is awesome, even if pretty stable for it’s ‘floating’ title. I would definitely go back!
To get there take the BTS Skytrain to Wang Wian Yai station (the current last stop), from there seek a taxi willing to take you there, it was the third one for us. The ride was about 20 minutes with a slight delay to ask a scooter driver which way to go. You should leave the interstate and head down a smaller road. Once the traffic backs up and you see ‘Mafia Farms’, you are there!