Published on December 21, 2007
Many urban dwellers seek quiet time and a change of scenery on the weekends. Recently, on a trip to a new restaurant out of town, we dropped by the charming Taling Chan Floating Market, which unlike most other floating markets that take place only in the early hours, is open all day on weekends.
On the way to the market is the Taling Chan District Office, Chak Phra Canal, or the Taling Chan train station, depending where you're coming from. The small marketplace has vendors selling fresh home-grown produce, fruits, flowers and ready-to-eat food and a long food raft with low-rise tables and arrays of boat food stalls selling grilled seafood and arrays of Thai snacks.
Although the market is open all day, the best time to go there is early in the morning. We were there at around 10am and found parking spaces still available. We began our easy morning stroll along the narrow road in front of the district office that was turned into a marketplace. Thai fruits such as mangoes (both tart and sweet), local bananas, lotus seeds in pods, baked yam, peanuts and the rare krajab (sinhara nuts) as well as some krajeab (roselle) flowers are popular items. An old lady peeling fresh mangoes offered free tastes to passers-by.
"Sellers at this market are people from the nearby communities," says Manot Sangsakda, a local who is selling grilled seafood from his boat. "The fruits here might not be as beautiful and flawless as in most supermarkets, but I am sure that you will get better tastes and value when you come here."
Further down the lane is a small food raft, which has a few low-rise tables. Thai families are relaxing at the tables and ordering different dishes from the available boats tied nearby. There are grilled river prawns, sea crabs, snake-head fish, and some other river fish baked in salt crusts. We order a plate of six grilled river prawns (Bt100) and a plate of grilled pork satay (Bt50), eager to sample not just the food but the atmosphere when we find a free table. It was lunchtime so many families ordered much more than we did. Other foods available include deep-fried tofu, pad thai and even Thai-style spicy salads. The food was good, but you should bring your own Kleenex.
If you do not want to sit with your legs folded, there are also tables available on the pier and you can still order the food up from the boats.
Taling Chan is now experiencing the encroaching of the city, but the locals are doing their best to preserve the traditional ambience. The double-decker highway can now easily bring tourists to the area, but once here it is good to slow down and enjoy the easygoing lifestyle of the old days.
Short boat trips further to the nearby canal-side communities are also available at Bt70 (Bt40 for children). The ticket fee includes a soda, a hand fan and an umbrella - all useful items when the weather is steaming hot during the day.
On our way back, we ate the fabulous kanom buang (Thai taco-like desserts, Bt20) and enjoyed buying mangoes, bananas, lotus seeds and papayas - and a pack of fresh roselle which I hope to later make an herbal drink with.
Taling Chan Floating Market
(Baromratchonnanee Soi 61)
Saturday and Sunday, 8am to 4pm
Sirin P Wongpanit
For more reviews, visit www.ohsirin.blogspot.com.