Tag Archives: Markets

Melbourne – Australia

With the flight from Singapore to Melbourne in Australia at 10pm, I hadn’t managed to grab much sleep as the journey lasted an awkward six and a half hours, so I landed in quite a nauseated state. After a surprising body search and interview with the customs guards at passport control, I was glad to hop onto the bus and check into Flinders Backpackers Hostel in downtown Melbourne.

Having come from the economical way of life in South-East Asia, I was brought crashing back down to earth after Singapore in terms of western pricing, with Australia following closely behind. Flinders Backpackers was by far the cheapest of downtown offerings in Melbourne but still cost four to five times more than South-East Asia. I had also gone from my own private room to a cramped 8 people shared hell-hole. The Hostel was in a dank, dreary and quite haunting 10-storey building right in the centre of town. The reception sat in the middle of a huge communal area which was predominantly surrounded by spotty teenagers lounging around. After socialising with a few over the next couple of days, I was bewildered at the amount of them that had simply sought escapism to Australia, but that in-turn resulted in isolation within the depths of the hostel, scrapping for survival. The room I stayed was humid and stank of sweat. The windows hardly opened to let in fresh air. The corridor between bunk beds resembled a cramped cabin on a warship. It was a depressing place. But, I hadn’t much option either unless I wanted to chuck money down the drain at another more expensive hostel for a 1-night stay.

After a couple more hours sleep, I then escaped into town to buy a return bus ticket to Sydney to visit my friends Owen and Amy in Manly. Later, I then checked out the Flinders area and visited Federation Square, snapping the impressive skyline along the riverbank.

King-Street, Melbourne, Australia

King Street – Melbourne, Australia


Swanston-Street, Melbourne, Australia

Swanston Street – Melbourne, Australia


Flinders-Street-Station, Melbourne, Australia

Flinders Street Station – Melbourne, Australia


Sugar-Station, Melbourne, Australia

Sugar Station – Melbourne, Australia


Downtown, Skyline, Melbourne, Australia

Downtown Skyline – Melbourne, Australia


Yarra-River, Melbourne, Australia

Yarra River – Melbourne, Australia

The city had a small and much more European relaxed feeling to it than I expected. It was quite leisurely, with people going about their business in a very chilled out manner. The streets were lined in blocks, with rows of shops, restaurants and fast-food chains, the roads wide with tram lines splitting through. It had an American feel to it. Heading out from Federation Square, I walked through the sprawling Victoria Park, past the Governmental Buildings and through the beautiful Botanical Gardens. As I walked on, I past the Olympic Village and Rod Laver Stadium – home to the Australian Tennis Open. Back at Federation Square, I just sat and watched the world go by. A busker kept me company outside Flinders Station making what looked like at least £50 an hour playing some out of the box Acoustic guitar.

Rod-Laver-Stadium, Melbourne, Australia

Rod Laver Stadium – Melbourne, Australia


Federation-Square, Melbourne, Australia

Federation Square – Melbourne, Australia

In the evening, I ate at an all you can eat buffet in Chinatown – probably the most reasonable value at $12. The obvious shock was how it was five times more expensive for much worse food than Asia. I then headed toward Section 9 of The Lanes area to try and mingle with some locals at a couple of the bars. This proved difficult at first, with the vibe similar to London in terms of approaching people for a chat. Eventually, I settled in a more American style bar which allowed me to start up some conversation with the bar staff and a few of the locals whilst seeing the night away watching some local comedy.

The following day, I met a couple of Israeli guys at breakfast called Ofer and Yuval who had just started their travelling following completion of their 3-year military service. Having come from a 3-week trip in New Zealand and en-route to Asia, they were clearly in admiration for their freedom, talking about how much they had embraced their adventures so far, and how much they were still looking forward to Asia. Their endeavors in the army, although valuable in terms of life skills, seemed also costly in terms of self-expression and exploration.

After breakfast, we headed to the Queen Victoria Market area in the Italian Quarter near Fitzroy Street. It had a 19th century old English feel to the area, resembling parts the Eastern Coast of the U.S. We managed to pick up a delicious pie that reminded me of home and some amazing Gelato ice cream from one of the many parlours in the area. This followed a much needed carb fix in Spaghetti Bolognese, a substantial dinner before I jumped on my bus to Sydney in a couple of hours.

Queen-Victoria-Market, Melbourne, Australia

Queen Victoria Market – Melbourne, Australia


Souvenir-Signs, Melbourne, Australia

Souvenir Signs – Melbourne, Australia


Stoneman's-Butchers, Queen-Victoria-Market, Melbourne, Australia

Stoneman’s Butchers – Queen Victoria Market – Melbourne, Australia


Inside-Queen-Victoria-Market, Melbourne, Australia

Inside Queen Victoria Market – Melbourne, Australia


Butchers, Queen-Victoria-Market, Melbourne, Australia

Butchers – Queen Victoria Market – Melbourne, Australia


Charlie's-Butcher, Queen-Victoria-Market, Melbourne, Australia

Charlie’s Butcher – Queen Victoria Market – Melbourne, Australia


Beef-Butchers, Queen-Victoria-Market, Melbourne, Australia

Beef Butchers – Queen Victoria Market – Melbourne, Australia


Italian-Quarter-Stop, Melbourne, Australia

Italian Quarter Stop – Melbourne, Australia


Corner, Italian-Quarter, Melbourne, Australia

A Corner in the Italian Quarter – Melbourne, Australia


Ofer, Yuval, Italian, Gelato-Shop, Melbourne, Australia

Ofer and Yuval – Italian Gelato Shop – Melbourne, Australia


Fitzroy-Street, Melbourne, Australia

Fitzroy Street – Melbourne, Australia


Brunswick-Street, Melbourne, Australia

Brunswick Street – Melbourne, Australia


Tram-Carriage, Melbourne, Australia

Tram Carriage – Melbourne, Australia

As pleasant as the city was, Melbourne was a town that held no real surprises for me due to its obvious Western foundations. However, the fruits of the city are probably best tasted after a much more lengthy stay.

Further Reading

 
City of Melbourne Guide
http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx

Queen Victoria Market – Melbourne
http://www.qvm.com.au/

Visit Melbourne
http://www.visitmelbourne.com/

More Photography :

 
“The Photography Collection” by Antematters

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The Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak – Thailand

Thailand is famous for the numerous floating markets throughout the country, with the majority of them surrounding the provinces around Bangkok. The visit to Bangkok’s Soi 3 in Baan Silom was my first glimpse at the beautiful meandering canals that can be found just about anywhere in Thailand, but when I escaped the metropolitan life of the country’s capital, I was lucky enough to stop off for a day at the country’s most famous floating market – Damnoen Saduak.

Entrance to Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand

Entrance to Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand

Damnoen Saduak can be found about 100km southwest of Bangkok in the picturesque province of Ratchaburi. In 1866, King Rama IV of the Chakri Dynasty ordered the construction of the canals to help facilitate waterborne travels between the Ratchaburi and Samutsakhon Provinces, and work was completed two years later. The canals have helped simplify transportation to the area and have also provided local farmers with adequate irrigation for their crops. As the land around Ratchaburi is extremely fertile, the canals were a perfect setting for the growth of a variety of fruit and vegetables and gave birth to the famous floating markets we can see today.

Entrance to Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak - Thailand

Entrance to Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak – Thailand

As the reputation of Damnoen Saduak has grown over the years since tourism opened up in Thailand from the mid-70s, it has become one of the most popular destinations in the country. Upon visiting the markets, you can see why it has become such a prevalent destination; however, in order to see the more traditional side of market life in Thailand, it’s best to visit Damnoen Saduak in the early hours of the morning before the huge crowds descend at around lunchtime.

I headed out of Bangkok from the South Bus Terminal on Borommarat Chachonnani Road at around 6am to try and get to the market as it opened; the plan then to move onto Kanchanaburi further West in the afternoon. Upon arrival, I hired a canal boat for around an hour and a half for a few baht. It was a beautifully cool start to the day, the morning sunshine providing a perfect backdrop to coasting around the canals taking in the surroundings.

View from the Canoe - Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand

View from the Canoe – Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand

As I approached the main entrance to the floating market, I even had a chance to spot a local Monitor Lizard venturing out on a morning swim. The beautiful creature was about huge at around 2 metres long and was completely unfazed by our intrusion into its waters.

Leisurely Water Monitor Lizard, Thailand

Leisurely Water Monitor Lizard, Thailand


Good Morning Water Monitor Lizard - Damnoen Saduak, Thailand

Good Morning Water Monitor Lizard – Damnoen Saduak, Thailand

Moving on peacefully, I then had a chance to sit back and relax whilst we quietly cruised past the stunning housing that decorated the Damnoen Saduak banks. It gave me the opportunity to witness the early morning life of the locals – from hand-washing clothes in the canal and hanging them up to dry in the early morning sunshine, to the preparation of breakfast for the family. The dwellings on first glimpse was very basic, but as you took a closer look, the buildings were purpose built to withstand the strong elements, erected on very sturdy foundations, with the framework constructed out of strong bamboo and finely crafted wood. They were built to match the neighbouring environment, structures that blended perfectly into the beautiful natural surroundings. They also reflected the non-money oriented ways of traditional Thai people. The whole way of life in the area is completely focussed on agriculture and basic comfortable needs, totally absent of the material luxuries we may be used to in the West. Looking at the sturdiness and quality of the housing, this was not down to the lack of wealth, but simply by choice. The foundations of life they had built here were extraordinary, everything tailored for an easy, fit and healthy way of life.

Housing on Banks of Damnoen Saduak - Thailand

Housing on Banks of Damnoen Saduak – Thailand


Early Morning Cleaning - Banks of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand

Early Morning Cleaning – Banks of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand


Motorised Canoe - Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand

Motorised Canoe – Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand


Canoe Storage - Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand

Canoe Storage – Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand


Canoe Maintenance - Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand

Canoe Maintenance – Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand

At around 9am, we arrived at the main market canal areas, a perfect time to appreciate the initial buzz of the market sellers setting up for the day to come. It also gave me a chance to see the contrasting morning and afternoon life before the influx of tourists. Hundreds of canoes would be parked up or paddling around selling all kinds of fruits, vegetables, rice, spices and other produce from the local area – others would offer refreshing fruit drinks and snacks.

Tranquility of the Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand

Tranquility of the Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand


Rice Seller - Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand

Rice Seller – Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand


Vegetable Seller - Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand

Vegetable Seller – Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand


Spice Seller - Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand

Spice Seller – Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand


Fruit Seller - Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand

Fruit Seller – Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand


Corner Shop - Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand

Corner Shop – Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand


Floating Market Sellers - Damnoen Saduak, Thailand

Floating Market Sellers – Damnoen Saduak, Thailand

The colours on show were fantastic, reflected in the fresh produce that was on sale. Most of the canoes would be driven by Thai women wearing bamboo hats to protect them from the sunshine. Some would have their sons in tow to help them throughout the day. Most of what I saw being offered in the morning was to sell other locals, so I was fortunate enough to quietly witness the market bartering between them.

Two Women Floating Market Sellers - Damnoen Saduak, Thailand

Two Women Floating Market Sellers – Damnoen Saduak, Thailand


Mother and Son - Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand

Mother and Son – Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand


Family Outing - Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand

Family Outing – Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand

As I moved around, I could feel the atmosphere start to wake up as the morning matured into the day. The number of canoe boats increased significantly by mid-morning, just like the high street shops back home would start to open up.

High Street of the Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand

High Street of the Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand

The vendors began coming out in their droves, fighting their way through any gaps they could find. The early morning calm would start to change as midday approached, replacing itself with a heightened clamour of chattering vendors.

Chitter Chatter - Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand

Chitter Chatter – Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak, Thailand

As I finished up on the canal boat and took to the pathways that intertwined the canals, the buzz of the market was at full throes as it started to welcome in the afternoon crowds. The canals that were previously filled with the locals were now bursting full of foreigners. The market changed from a peaceful scene into a theme park for tourists. Tours would start to intrude on the scene and the vendors would start bartering with the visitors, often holding strong on the prices they were offering. The whole market ethos transformed from the provision of basic necessities to locals to foreign economic opportunities.

View From Above Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak - Thailand

View From Above Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak – Thailand

As the heat bore down on the market at lunchtime, the stuffiness of the situation made me glad that I had a chance to experience the markets at the crack of dawn. The glimmers of tradition in the early hours instantly lost its authenticity.

Further Reading on The Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak

 
Thai Ways Magazine
http://www.thaiwaysmagazine.com/bangkok/floating_market/floating_market_damnoen_popular.html/

Bangkok Tourist Guide
http://www.bangkok.com/beyond-the-city/damnoensaduak.htm

More Photography :

 
“The Thailand Collection” by Antematters

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