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Fifty Years of My Life (1939 - 1990)
A Memoir by Jeff R. Noordermeer

Traveling by River In Thailand

It's another sunny day and we got up very early. It's our fifth day in Thailand. I made arrangements with a taxi driver who spoke very good English to take us around for the day. The taxi driver told me he would charge me 40 baht, that's about $20 dollars, which is not very bad to have your own chauffeur. I told the taxi driver that I first wanted to take a boat trip to the floating market. He took us to the river and arranged to rent a boat for the two of us for $30. The owner of the boat spoke a little English. It takes about 1 1/2 hours down the river to get to the floating market, and I suggest to whoever visits Bangkok to take this trip to the floating market.

Thailand river cruise 

Just going down the river is a very pleasant scene watching all the boat-houses and barges the people live on. Everything was so different for me than what I was used to seeing in the Western world. The closer we came to the floating market the more picturesque the sceneries became. We were far away from the city of Bangkok and in the countryside. All along the river were houses built on wooden stilts. Most houses were built out of bamboo and very primitive. Somehow this river is part of the people's daily life — they bathe in it and wash their clothes in it. It's a cheap transportation to move their produce to the market. Without this river a lot of people wouldn't be so well off financially. I saw one lady taking a bath on the back porch of her house. There were two large pots filled with water. I was told that the reason they have two pots filled with water was because one pot would sit with the river water for a few days and will purify. It's the kind of clay these pots are made from that purifies the water. With a small bucket they will dip the water out of the large pots and rinse themselves.

I saw many spirit houses in the villages. With the large palm trees around the houses there is something relaxing and peaceful about those little village sceneries. When we arrived with our boat at the floating market, villagers were sitting in their small boats loaded with all kind of produce to sell to most of the tourists who came here from all over the world. Most of the tourists were Japanese. There were so many motor boats in the floating market that it created a traffic jam. I felt sorry for the village people who lived there, with all those motor boats running it really fouls up the air. You could smell the smog all around. Even the river water was messed up with all kinds of motor oil.

Tourism is the only productive economy in that part of Thailand, and to please the tourists with a lot of their comforts the local people have to give up a lot of their primitive ways of living. I really enjoyed seeing the floating market as it was very colorful and interesting. By being invaded by so many tourists daily, this area must have gone through some fast cultural changes. It's sometimes sad that this has to happen to the local people who lived there all their lives. But some changes are good and some changes are bad. What I saw there is that it works both ways.

On our way back to Bangkok again we stopped at a snake farm. There were all kinds of poisonous snakes. One young man was in one of the snake pits and demonstrated how snakes will attack you. This young man had a lot of courage getting in the pit with all those poisonous snakes.

All along the river we saw beautiful constructed temples. One temple looked so different, painted with many colors that I asked the boat owner to stop so that we could visit this interesting building. There were so many interesting sites all along the river. Even being on the river the sun was very hot and it made me drink many bottles of Thai beer. The boat owner said he didn't know how to speak English very well, but he understood very well whenever I asked if he wanted another beer. He always answered yes and drank his beer all the way.

CONTINUED: Nude Dancers in Bangkok
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© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora

- Foreword
- Old Rotterdam
- World War II
- After the War
- Coming to America
- Washington, D.C.
- Southeast Asia
- Philosophy of Life

- Book Index