Friday - our last day in Thailand! We hired an English-speaking tour guide for the day named Waudee. She is a Bangkok native who took us to the floating market outside Bangkok (one thing Thailand is known for), as well as the Grand Palace in downtown Bangkok.
Before the floating market, we stopped at a Thai sugar farm. This isn't like like normal sugar we use everyday - it's like brown sugar made from coconuts. Waudee told us how the sugar is made - from a combination of the coconut tree's flower, nectar and palm. The farmer takes a bamboo ladder and a bucket and connects it to the flower of the blossoming coconuts. After the bucket fills, he puts the liquid collected in giant pots combined with fresh coconut juice and ground leaves from the tree. He boils the pot until the liquid mixture begins to reduce.Once the mixture is reduced, the farmer pours the mixture into circular molds and lets it harden for 1/2 hour. Then the sugar is read to eat, or break apart into chunks for sale.
The farm also sold other coconut trinkets and whole coconuts to drink. Andi bought one; the lady grabbed a machete and chopped the top off in a way that showed this wasn't her first time - impressive.
Next, the floating market. We arrived at a pier on the canal and hopped onto a long boat. We drove for about 15 minutes through a local farming community - it felt almost like we were boating through a neighborhood. Andi also described it as a run-down Venice and I'd agree. It was really interesting to float past shacks built on stilts and see regular Thai villagers going about their daily work - washing dishes, hanging clothes on the line. The water was a dirty brown color, yet we saw Thai people washing their dishes in it and water pipes coming and going. They thrive on that canal - which is scary since it wasn't clean in the least bit. The market itself was amazing. Imagine a hundred boats showing up every day to sell food, clothing, bags, trinkets and more to tourists and other locals.Prices are negotiable here too. The vendors have giant calculators they type the price into. You type back your counter. And then settle on the final price.
Inside the market, there was a lady making Thai silk scarves by hand. Very cool watching her go ...Finally, the dreaded Thai bathroom I spoke about in an earlier post. Andi snapped a photo of this one at today's market. It's REALLY hard to go on one of these (if you're wondering, the bucket of water next to the toilet is to flush down your business)
After the market, we went to the Grand Palace in downtown Bangkok. This is where Thailand's first 5 kings lived before building a new palace where the King and Queen reside today. (There have been 9 kings in Thailand's history). We saw several different temples including the world-renown Green Emerald Buddha.
The Grand Palace also has armed guards watching over all the temples and buildings (not sure why since there's no royalty here any longer). They acted sort of like the London guards who stand completely still and don't smile no matter what ... this is Andi and I taking our photo with one.We're back at the hotel now, packing our bags for our 5:00AM flight. Can't believe our honeymoon is almost over! A 28 hour flight ahead before we're back in Mpls. Looking forward to being home ... and reflecting back on our memories of Thailand.
ps...the first thing I'm going to eat when I get to the San Fran airport - queso and chips!