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YUNNAN & BANGKOK Day 9

Day 9: Centre Point Hotel Pratunam -> Coconut farm -> Chang Puak Elephant Camp -> Damnoen Saduak Floating Market -> MBK Center -> Siam Discovery, Siam Center, Siam Paragon -> Big C Super Center (Rajdamri)  

Sawadeeka ~

Rise and shine early at 5+ am to prep for our half day morning tour with Asiatravel to the Floating Market, coconut farm and elephant camp.

6am view from our balcony @ Level 18th of Centre Point hotel pratunam
6am view of Petchburi Road from our balcony @ Level 18th of Centre Point hotel Pratunam
Just a little more info about our half day tour package from Asiatravel. We chose Asiatravel as we have some points to redeem and since floating market has always been a key attraction of Thailand, we decide to visit their main floating market (Damnoensaduak Floating Market). We chose the most basic package to floating market that Asiatravel offers. Though it includes stop to Elephant camp, gems factory, coconut farm, however we would rather they include a trip to the Maeklong Railway Market which is actually near the floating market.

Screenshot of Half day floating market tour by Asiatravel
They offer pick up (Van) from your hotel to the various attractions then at the end of the tour, they will alight you back at either your hotel, or alternatively you can request to drop off at any point within their pickup/drop off point list. Do arrange with them via email early if you have a place in mind that is different from your hotel. Pick up was done at 6.45am for us however typically, it is advisable to go down to your hotel lobby 10-15mins earlier. Afterall they do not want any unnecessary delay that may cause disruption to thee itinerary later on.

As you can see from the screenshot from Asiatravel regarding the itinerary, Ours follow the itinerary above except that we did not stop by the Gems Factory. Feel free to read on to find out first hand, hows the tour like :) Btw, the tour price quoted from Asiatravel is THB 400 ( SGD $ 16). Tipping is optional. No lunch is provided in the package.

So here we go at around 6.30am, we went down to our lobby and surprisingly our guide was there waiting for us at the lobby already!

Elephant fountain at Hotel lobby
It is quite simple to know which is your guide as it was early morning, and there's not really a lot of people at the lobby. Furthermore she was holding pieces of paper in her hand, so we approached her and ask. So once she confirmed us (4 pax), we proceeded to board the van and off we go to the next pick up stop to pick up the rest of our tour members.
Our van to fetch us around for the tour
Contrary to those lower quality tours, where the driver and guide is the same person, over here they are 2 separate persons. The remaining 7 persons belongs to 1 family who stayed at Twin Towers Hotel Bangkok.

After that, off we go and embark on our journey to the coconut farm first. Do note that the journey to the coconut farm/floating market is pretty far away from Bangkok city area. We reached our first destination: Coconut Farm at around 8.20am despite leaving our hotel at around 6.40am and fetching the remaining tour members at around 7.10am.

Enough said, lets hop over to see what's there at the coconut farm!

coconut demonstration (Right in the middle is the coconut sugar cube)
There were many people at the coconut farm brought here by vans like us.
Coconut farm
tour vans
A worker or your guide will demonstrate about how the coconut is grown and how it is then made into other useful products such as sugar cubes for cooking or coconut oil.

Demonstration and explanation of coconuts
Coconut sugar cubes
We were given coconut sugar cubes to try and they were really sweet and fragrant. We were told that it is commonly used for cooking.
* PS: Yup you might have seen the big housefly in the photo. Food etc were left open so houseflies are inevitable. Stay tune for more of this house pest at the floating market haha

Next up, we see many boiling going on at they boil the coconut flesh to get coconut oil which is a long and tedious process.

cooking of coconut
some pots and oil sample
woks of oil?
adding twigs/logs to the fire stove
coconut shredder machine
our tour guide demonstrating shredding of the coconut flesh
Most of the time, it is free and easy around the coconut farm. There is also a mini shop where you can buy coconut products they made such as coconut cream, oil or even the sugar cubes earlier on.

shop selling coconut products
We bought 2 bottles of coconut oil for hair @ THB 150 (SGD $6) per bottle and coconut sugar cubes is at THB 70 per pack.
coconut sugar cubes @ THB 70 per pack (SGD $2.80)
The staff had limited English speaking knowledge, luckily our guide was there to help out with a little translation as we asked them about the products such as the storage instructions.

If coconut related products are not your cup of tea, they have a souvenir outlet there too.

Souvenir shop at coconut farm
The stay at coconut farm isn't long and we left the coconut farm at around 8.50am. Then it is a 5 mins or less drive to the Elephant camp - Chang Puak Camp!

Elephant Camp
Elephant Camp (Chang Puak Camp) @ Damnoen Saduak
Courtesy of Google maps: Pratunam > Chang Puak Camp > Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
As you can see from the Google Maps above, that is how far it is to travel from our hotel (Bangkok City) is to Damnoen Saduak area, of close to 2 hours ride.

So here we are at Chang Puak camp, and of course the main attraction here is elephant riding (30 mins). Over here we thought that there's a little over pressure by the in-charge on pressuring us to take the elephant ride.
Chang Puak Camp worker explaining to us the individual attractions and pricing
We were advertised with the Elephant riding (30mins) at THB 600 (SGD $24) per pax. As my family were scared of sitting on the elephant back / experienced before, so we did not try it. If you are more adventurous or would like to try a variety of activities, they have combo packages. For eg, they have combo package of Elephant riding + ATV motor + BB Gun @ THB 1300 (SGD $52) per pax. There was a couple from our tour group who join the elephant riding while the rest of that family went for massage. On the other hand, we went to feed the elephants bananas! :)
Long neck karen show @ THB 400 (SGD $16)
They had many elephants on stand by for tourists to ride them.
elephants for riding
and off they go on the elephant ride ~
For those who took the elephant ride, they can pay 100baht to buy a basket of bananas to feed the elephant whom they rode on or the other elephants thereafter too!

bananas for feeding
While for us, we bought from this shop here and we can only feed one baby elephant :(
banana feeding @ THB 100 (SGD $4) per basket
baby elephant ~
elephant feeding time ~
Haha don't be fooled by his/her look, the elephants here are very picky! They only take bananas that are ripe. Those not so ripe bananas (green in colour) they won't eat!

We were the only group that feed the elephant at the point of time. Haha. But seeing that he is quite picky, guess he had his fair share of food normally.

They have an owl (Real one!) for photo-taking too. 

Owl for photo taking
At the end of everything, when you are about to board the van at the carpark area, there will be representative there asking if you want to buy the photo taken earlier (when we just reached). And the thing is, they actually developed all photos and put nicely already. So if you don't buy, I am not too sure how they will deal with it either hahaha. We bought 1 family photo of us even though the photo quality isn't too good.

Photo in frame taken at Chang Puak Camp @ THB 150 (SGD $6)
Off we go to our main destination - floating market. We were driven to a boat area where we will board this long tail motor boat (inclusive in our Asiatravel package) which will bring us to Damnoen saduak floating market.

Long tail Motor Boats
Boarding area
We were split into 2 boats (1 for each family) while our guide and driver will head to the floating market via car and wait for us there.

The boat ride took an approx of 15 mins. The main feature of the boat ride is to see stilt house, and how the people live along the river bank.

here we go ~
Our boat driver
houses along the river bank
more sights
villagers and other tourists on the boat like us!
more sights
And eventually, soon we reach the floating market!

Floating market entrance!
We alighted at the floating market and gathered to meet our guide. We were encouraged to pay THB 150 (SGD $6) per pax to take the sampan boat which will tour within the floating market - scenary will be different from the long tail motor boat which we took earlier as the sampan boat is more of the market ( buy and sell deals rather than stilt houses). Alternatively, we can walk along the floating market. We were given 1 hour at the floating market for F&E time.

Time check: 10.20am

Floating market - souvenir stores
touristy souvenirs - expensive :(
Place to board the sampan boat
The sampan boat is the one without the cover while the long tail motor boat is the one with cover (See image above). Of course sampan boat was rowed by manual labour instead of motor.

Initially we didn't want to take the sampan boat as we thought one boat ride experience was sufficient, however we realised that there's not much to walk about and yet we have 1 hour. Hence we decided to give a go at this 30 mins Sampan boat ride.

Sampan boat counter
One boat ride cost THB 150 (SGD $6) per pax. Andd.... it is very shaky. so be careful of your footing haha.

Our sampan boat ~
on the sampan boat overlooking at thee boarding deck
Off we go to see the busy and touristy floating market (uniquely Thailand) haha ~

hats on sale 
More straw hats
another boat boarding station
our sampan boat and many others
The river is really crowded... with boats. It is already a narrow river bank, with stores on the side along the river bank, and also small businesses on boat along both sides of the river. There were a lot of touristy sampan boats too (as you can see in the photo above). Boat can travel in both directions along the river and some boat drivers just force their way through. There were a few times, when the boat were a little unbalanced (due to the traffic congestion).

One thing that we also noticed was that typically souvenir make shift stores (on boat) will use a bamboo pole to hook your boat over to their boat such that you will be able to see their items clearer and hopefully purchase from them. When they see that you have no interest and another boat is coming they will then push your boat away and drag the other boat over. In a way, it seems like they can be quite aggressive at doing business.. Just remember to think twice before buying - like whether the price and goods are worth buying.

boat seller
 Just around 5-10 minutes into our journey we came across a seller selling Ice Cream Coconut for THB 80 (SGD $3.2).

Ice Cream Coconut
THB 80 (SGD $3.2) Ice Cream Coconut
Tbh, it is actually not very worth it. It is practically just a little vanilla ice cream, really little serving of stick rice, nut and 3-4 small pieces of coconut. As you can see from the picture above, given the thick 'husk' layer of coconut, how much ice cream can be place inside ;/ Not only that, if you are hygiene conscious you might want to think twice. Because Floating market environment is a great place for houseflies to party and feast. We saw really a lot of flies everywhere especially when you get food. We were really excited to taste the food so we did not bother much with the flies. But just an example of the hygiene, below is an ice cream bread shop (sold on boat).

Hygiene condition
But thankfully, despite eating all these houseflies infested food, we did not experience any stomachache whatsoever. Phew.

selling goreng pisang
Look at the fruits and wok on that boat! They have portable gas hence they can cook on the boat and serve you.

Do note, you have to gesture to the seller or show some kind of action to let the seller know you want to buy stuff. As for the distance it is not a matter, as your boatman/woman will see it and row the boat over. Earlier on, we were told by our guide that we can bargain up to 50% at Floating market. Not too sure if she meant only souvenirs or food too. However we did not bargain as there's really language barrier. We can only tell them *show finger 1* "pad thai". Or simple phrases like 'how much' and then they tell you the price. Oh well, if you know a bit of Thai, perhaps you can bargain and get the food at local price.
tunnel
In another 10 mins time we see more food. At the earlier stretch, most were souvenirs but the second half were food. And who can resist food right? We first came across this Pad Thai / Fried Rice store and we ordered Pad Thai from him.

Seller on a boat - roasting duck
Bangkok is kind of famous for duck and the duck really look nice so we ordered a plate of Duck Pad Thai. He has a proper food store on land so cooking was done there and not on the boat. Once you ordered, he will inform his helper on land. (See Photo below).

duck and communicating our order
We did not have to wait for long for the duck pad Thai to be ready (about 5 mins). If not mistaken, it cost about THB 120-150 (SGD $4.8-$6).
Duck Pad Thai
Though it is pretty pricey given that it is at Bangkok, but really really sumptuous! the duck serving is quite generous and there's the wok hei smell. Awww feel like eating it right now. while we ordered the Pad Thai we also ordered seafood fried rice from the store beside it. 

Seafood fried rice from the store beside it (the one with blue banner)
where the seafood fried rice was cooked
The price was around THB 100-150 (SGD $4.8-$6). Actually thereafter when we walk on the land part of floating market, and came across this store, and we look at the menu it cost THB 20 lesser. Not too sure if we were being charged at a higher price or it was really a higher price given the inconvenience of delivering down the food to the boat. Haha

Ta dah ~

Seafood fried rice
This was even nicer than the pad Thai. Especially when there's generous servings of fresh prawns, omelette. And.... there's wok hei smell too! Though the price is a little high given that it's sold at floating market, but we didn't regret buying this. yum yum.

Just a glimpse at how some seller can cook on the boat (see photo below of gas cylinder on the boat).

cooking on the boat
tourists in the sampan boat
The ride was around 30 mins. Towards the end, we came across a boat man selling noodles soup and decided to buy 1 bowl.

boat man selling noodle soup
Tadah ~

char siew noodle soup
We saw typically locals buying from him so we also bought one bowl. It is quite little and plain but not bad. Couldn't remember how much it cost but it cost lesser than the pad thai and fried rice for sure.

It was around 11.10am and we still had some time, so we walked abit of the land part of floating market. We bought some souvenir - food (coconut sweet) to be distributed to our friends and colleagues back in SG.
coconut & almond sweet (3 packs for THB 100 - SGD $4)
This coconut sweet is not the typical kind of gula melaka sweet but rather they mix it with nuts that's why its actually quite fragrant (香). Good.

Coincidentally, We met our guide and the rest of the members whom finished their boat ride too. As everyone was done with walking around floating market, we headed back to the van and was pleasantly surprised that our tour guide actually bought us fruits. A really good complement to the hot and stuffy weather!

Fruits by our tour guide - Jambu (water apple) & Guava
The fruits were very sweet too! Sedap! We left floating market at around 11.40am. And with that we ate the fruits along the way back. We were supposed to head to Gems Factory thereafter but somehow the guide didn't mention anything about it and we were secretly glad since we weren't interested in spending unnecessary money haha. The rest of the tour group had a flight to catch in the later night though.

For the return journey, the van will drop the family off back at their hotel then drop my family at MBK (we requested earlier).

It was a 2 hour journey back. And we reached MBK at around 1.30pm. Tips given at your own discretion (optional).

MBK Centre - Photo taken at overhead bridge to Siam
We headed for its food court also known as Food Island on the fifth floor of MBK. Similar to food court at Platinum Mall, they operate via cash card. At the entrance of the food court, you have to buy a cash card with value of your choice. Any excess amount they can refund, so don't worry.

Purchase of MBK Food Island card
You can purchase it using the rabbit card or ez link card equivalent.
MBK food court cash card
We bought 2 cards and had THB 200 value in each. As it was past lunch time, there wasn't a lot of people. We ordered a few dishes for sharing. Apologies for only taking 2 photos.

Stewed pork leg with rice @ C22 - THB 60 (SGD $2.40)
Chicken Noodle in Tom Yum Soup (Claypot) @ C17 - THB 60 (SGD $2.40)
We bought 2 tom yum claypot (see above image). We thought the Tom Yum is not bad until the next day when we tried the Tom Yum from Inter Restaurant at Siam Square, we realised the latter one is the bomb. Haha

In addition, we also ordered a plate of fried oyster at THB 75 (SGD $3) and cut fruits (Papaya) at THB 40 (SGD $1.60). The fried oyster was just acceptable and similarly, the one at Inter Restaurant is way at a higher standard then the fried oyster we had at MBK Food court. The best thing is that the price difference is only marginal. More on the food at Inter Restaurant in the next blog post (Day 10).

In the end we have THB 20 (SGD $0.80) and THB 25 (SGD $1) left for each card, and of course, they gladly return us the remaining value and they took the card back.

We walked around MBK Center but feel that prices here were quite expensive and there's nothing much that appeal to us. We went to its Tokyu Departmental store too but there wasn't much sale and prices were like Singapore's Isetan. They are both Japan Departmental stores. We left MBK at around 3.15pm. MBK is situated on Siam and it is easily walkable to Siam Discovery etc. However as it was raining, everything was made more complicated. We eventually found a link way from MBK that states to Siam.

Link way
Map of Siam District
Basically, diagonally opposite is Siam Discovery, and thereafter, Siam Center, Paragon and Central World is along that stretch of road. Our plan was to conquer all the major shopping places in Siam (as seen below)
graphic illustration
Siam Discovery & Siam Centre
Due to lack of proper planning, we did not get to try those popular dessert places that is normally frequented by Singaporeans such as Greyhound cafe, After you cafe, Audrey cafe... As we forgot to bring along the address of the cafes. We only managed to ask one of the customer service staff at Siam Center about After you Cafe which she had kindly tell us it is at Siam Paragon ground floor.

After you cafe is famous for its soft shibuya toast. And despite being there at around 3.45pm, there was a super long queue :(

After you cafe @ Siam Paragon
Really long queue of tourists and mostly Singaporeans. So with that we decide to give it a miss as we were not sure how long we have to wait and there were limited seats in the cafe.

We then went to find Naraya - the popular shop that sell affordable ladies bags/pouches.
Naraya outlet @ Siam Paragon
3dfl. Room No. 3/17-19, Rama 1 Rd., Patumwan, Bangkok,10330
Tel: +662 610 9418
Fax: +662 610 9419

Open daily 10:00 - 22:00
* Details from Naraya website

Naraya looks very atas from outside and inside, however the price is really affordable. The pouches are good as gift! Previously we wanted to find out about the prices before we head to Bangkok, but we couldn't find much info on it. So here's just a brief glance of the prices to gauge its affordability level.

Naraya bags / pouches
Just to give you an idea of the price of Naraya goods (From top to bottom of picture above):
1. Naraya shoulder bag THB 265 (SGD $10.6)
2. Tissue Case THB 50 (SGD $2)
3. Sanitary Napkin Case THB 65 (SGDD $2.6)
4. Cosmetic bag THB 80 (SGD $3.2)
5. Cosmetic bag (slightly bigger) THB 90 (SGD $3.6)

Generally prices varies according to the type, material of the pouches/bag and not much of the design (eg. floral or polka dots...)

Receipt of handbag and 1 pouch @ Naraya
 We also noticed their mobile store - Banana mobile around the Naraya shop outlet.
Banana mobile
These malls we thought were like Singapore's kind of mall (atas kind) which isn't really our cup of tea. So we left thereafter and head straight for Big C !

We took the overhead bridge passing by Siam BTS.

Siam BTS
Central World Plaza
And then we finally see Big C! It had the iconic C logo with green background on its building and a digital temperature/time teller on the building.

spot Big C!
It was around 5.20pm when we reached Big C. Similarly, please use overhead bridge when possible to cross Bangkok roads. It was really difficult to cross their roads as traffic was always heavy.

There are multiple levels at Big C Rajdamri - it contains the multi level supermart and some normal stores. We saw many tour buses there too!

Shopping time ! Aka shop for food

Different varieties of Pocky
Pocky choco banana is kind of uniquely bangkok as we don't see it in Singapore or elsewhere. They have promotion ongoing for it, if you buy 1 carton of it, they give you a free Pocky tote bag etc.

Crackersss
Our final damage
Don't worry if you bought too much stuff from Big C, because once you check out, they have a packing area with boxes for your to pack your loots in, for convenience in lugging to the airport for check in/hand carry.

We were done with shopping at around 7pm and decided to head for dinner within the mall. Previously we saw online that Yum Saap Platinum Mall is a good alternative food place if food court is full. Chancing upon its branch at Big C, we decided to give it a try.
Yum Saap @ Big C Rajadrmi
Interior of Yum Saap
We saw quite a lot of people in the restaurant and they seem mostly Thai people too. We secretly thought that it must be that the food is fabulous that's why the locals are eating here. However perhaps the real reason might be that the food isn't that costly :/
Shrimp fried rice + Chicken and gourd soup @ THB 99 (SGD $3.96)
Rice with Thai Anchovy Paste + Chicken and gourd soup @ THB 99 (SGD $3.96)
Noodles with Tom yum seafood @ THB 89 (SGD $3.56)
The Tom Yum Seafood noodles was disappointed. All the ingredients were bland and there wasn't a lot of noodles too. Rice were nice though.
Fried Mama noodle with pork & sweet Ivy THB 95 (SGD $3.8)
FYI, Mama noodle is their instant noodle's brand. Haha. The fried mama noodle looks pathetic but as usual instant noodles will always win with its flavourful taste.

We also ordered a bottle of mineral water for THB 18 (SGD $0.72).

In total, the bill came up to THB 428 (SGD $17.12). Not too sure why the receipt below states Yum Saap Asiatique haha.
Receipt (Yum Saap @ Big C Rajdamri)
To be honest, food at Yum Saap are affordable (food court price) however do not expect Quality food but rather you should expect food court standard. So if you are looking for a good meal, this might disappoint you.

We finished eating at around 7.45pm and when we decide to head back to our hotel (by walking), it was pouring. Really heavily. We wanted to wait for the rain to stop but it never seem to stop. In the end we gave up and decided to brave the storm and head back to our hotel. Roads in Bangkok are not as good and developed as Singapore's. There were multiple times when water was almost at our ankle height despite it being just a sudden downpour (that has not persist for long). We wanted to head to pratunam night market but given that it rained so heavily and had no sign of ceasing, we decided to call it off and just snuggle in our hotel.

Side-note:
Ronald Mcdonald @ MBK Bangkok
An interesting sight: It is only in Thailand where you can see the iconic Ronald Mcdonald showing the 'Sawadeeka' hand gesture.

2 comments:

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Thien Nguyen said...

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