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Jesada Technik Museum in Nakhon Pathom

Literally in the middle of no-where, in Nakhon Chaisi District of Nakhon Pathom Province, there is a sprawling private transport museum for lovers of any vehicles, both on land and in the air. This large collection of vehicles can be found at Jesada Technik Museum and is the brainchild of Mr. Jesada Deshsakulrith, a Thai businessman. The museum first opened to the public in 2004 though Jesada bought his first vehicle back in 1997.

I was completely lost when I stumbled upon this red double decker bus from London and the yellow school bus from America. Beyond no doubt, I had arrived. Jesada Technik Museum is ironically not served by any public transport. You will have to find your own way there from Nakhon Chaisi (see map). It is open every day from Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Mondays. Surprisingly there is no entrance fee to the well kept museum though donations are welcome.

The inspiration for the museum came after Jesada visited automobile museums in the USA and in Europe. He decided to collect antique and hard-to-find cars for his own collection. He started with a 1958 Bubble Car bought in Switzerland. His collection has now grown to 500 pieces which includes Airplanes, Helicopters, Tanks, Buses, Sedans, Bubble Cars, Motorcycles, Tricycles and Bicycles from around the world. There would have been a Russian made submarine as well but it apparently sunk while on the way to Thailand.

It is a credit to Jesada that all of the vehicles have been kept in excellent condition as you can see from these pictures. Not only on the outside but the inside as well. The upholstery is in very good condition. Also don’t be fooled into thinking that this is a “dead” museum as many of these vehicles are in good working order and have taken part in car rallies. I have also seen one of the red double decker buses out and about too at charity events. They actually have three London buses, one of which is open-topped.

The transport museum is probably not worth visiting on its own. Best to do it in conjunction with something else in the area. Visit our Thailand Photo Map website to see what else there is to see in Nakhon Pathom Province. Nearby is the riverside Thana Market which is a great place to have lunch.

Rangsit Floating Market

One of the latest markets for people from Bangkok can be found at Rangsit Floating Market. It is just north of the city on the Rangsit-Nakhon Nayok Road. It is just a short distance from Future Park and is not too far from Dream World. I went there for the first time at the weekend. It has been open since March 2009 but I hadn’t heard of it until someone on Twitter suggested that I should go there. I am glad that I did.

It’s not really a floating market like foreign tourists would imagine it. It is true that there are a couple of boat vendors selling food. However, the majority of food is sold from normal stalls. Having said that, technically it is a floating market as the whole thing is on a series of linked flat barges moored to the banks. Anyway, it is good, open-aired, clean and has a nice atmosphere. For a weekend I was actually expecting large crowds, but it was to our advantage that, unlike other markets, we were easily able to find some seating.

I usually say that you judge a good food stall by the crowds. I think that in this case we have some delicious food being sold in a great location but suffering greatly from bad promotion to the public. I don’t think that many people outside of Rangsit really know about it. Which is a pity as the food was good. I don’t normally eat that much but I had three full meals here. Two of them were from this vendor that sold 12 different kinds of pad thai. My favourite was pad thai made with green papaya (see here). Very unusual but surprisingly good. The other was crispy noodle pad thai (see here).

It is probably not worth going all the way here for this one market. But, you could visit here on the way back from or to Dream World. Or if you are going to the shopping mall at Future Park. On this trip we also visited the Thai Royal Air Force Museum which is not that far away. However, I definitely want to go back again to try some more of the variations of pad thai. Noodles are also very famous here. In fact, they have a museum dedicated to the history of noodles. Unfortunately this is only in Thai.

The floating market is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can get there by buses 538, 559 or 188.

Map showing the location of Rangsit Floating Market:
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Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market

Another one of those riverside markets in Bangkok that isn’t visited much by foreign tourists is Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market. It is in the same district as the more famous Taling Chan Floating Market. I had never been there before and when I visited last Sunday I was expecting to find a quiet market. I guess the first sign for me that Lat Mayom is a popular place for locals to visit at the weekend were the numerous car parks. In 2007 it deservedly won the Thailand Tourism Award for Community Based Tourism.

It is probably best to go early as it got very crowded as the morning progressed. Like other markets, it is only open at the weekends and public holidays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. I was there shortly after 9 a.m. and even though some stalls were still being set up, it was easier for me to park and then explore the market. When you arrive you will soon discover that there is more than one area. There are numerous stalls around the car park, in an orchard and also along the canal bank.

Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market was set up in November 2004 after the local community saw the success over at Taling Chan. However, this one prides itself on being more of a green market. It is famous for organic vegetables as well as freshly-cooked food and home-made desserts. You will find vendors selling food on both the land and on boats along the canal. The stalls in the orchard area sell mainly local products and souvenirs under the OTOP banner.

The highlight of any floating market for me is the opportunity to eat some delicious food. Lat Mayom certainly didn’t disappoint. There were plenty of large eating areas that were served by vendors on both the land and on boats. It is always best to come here hungry so that you can snack as much as you like. There are so many temptations here. My favourite was Kuay Tiaw Kua Gai bought from a boat vendor. This is a wide noodle cooked in a pan with chicken and egg.

A visit to a floating market wouldn’t be complete without a trip on a boat. This is the best way to explore the local communities that use these canals as their life-line. If you want to just explore the immediate area then you can go on a small flat bottom boat for only 10 Baht each. There are no seats, just a cushion. You can also join a longer tour on a bigger long-tailed boat. This is what I did. The 90 minute boat tour costs only 50 Baht per person. They will leave as soon as they have at least 15 people.

We travelled quite far on our trip. We ended up in a small community where we disembarked so that we could explore on foot. We were first taken to an old house alongside the canal where we were told some of the local history. We then walked a bit further to visit Sawangchan Homestay. Here we were able to buy some food and refreshments being sold by the local people. It is a good idea to help support them. From here we continued on until we reached the canal again for our return journey to Lat Mayom.

Map showing location of Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market:
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Klong Lat Mayom Floating Market is located on the Bang Lamad Road (off Bang Khae-Bang Bua Thong Outer Ring Highway) in Taling Chan, Thonburi, Bangkok

By Bus: Take No. 146 to Kanchanaphisek Road and alight at the offices of Samakom Chao Pak Tai (Association of People from the South).
Then take a 15-minute songthaew (Rod Fai-Wat Pu Theun route) to Bang Ramat Road.

By Car: If you’re driving, take Kanchanaphisek Road and turn onto Bang Ramat Road when you see the sign for Natibunditiyasapa (the place where Thai law students sit examinations for admission to the Bar). I also saw plenty of meter taxis here if you don’t have your own transport.

Wat Takien Floating Market in Nonthaburi

A good excursion to do at the weekend is to visit one of the many floating markets that are within easy reach of Bangkok. The one that I visited last weekend is called Wat Takien Floating Market which is in Nonthaburi Province, to the Northwest of Central Bangkok. From Samut Prakan it only took us about 40 minutes to drive there along the Kanchanapisek Outer Ring Road. But, if you are coming from Bangkok, you can get there via the Rama V Bridge.

The floating market at Wat Takien is relatively new. There used to be a much older one nearby called Bang Ku Wiang Floating Market. However, that has long since closed due to the modernization of transportation during the last century. Once the roads and highways were built, people went from getting around by boat to travelling by car which is obviously quicker and more convenient. However, there is a growing trend these days to revive some of the old markets. That is why the local community opened this market at Wat Takien.

Many of these markets open early in the morning. However, even though we arrived there after 9 a.m., many of the stalls were still being set up. So we explored the temple first. In front of the chapel there is a giant tiger’s head which has a doorway which takes you underneath the building. Inside there are a number of different shrines. Buddhists here were walking around these shrines in a clockwise direction while chanting. They were doing this to bring themselves good luck. The exit was through the head of a giant dragon.

The market is open every day from about 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. However, it is a lot more active at the weekend. Probably best to aim to be there by about 10 a.m. But don’t have breakfast before you leave home. Like most markets, the highlight for our trip was the food. You could just snack all day long. You can buy food from one of the boat vendors or from one of the stalls set up in the grounds of the temple. I had a very tasty crispy and red pork on rice. For dessert I had deep fried bananas and a coconut pudding. All prices were very good.

For me, a trip to a floating market is not satisfactory unless there is also a chance to go on a boat trip along the canals. Only by exploring this way do you get to see the daily life of local Thai people, which probably hasn’t changed much in a hundred years. Even today, most of the houses that we passed are cut off from the road and people have to use boats to get around. Even the postman and garbage collector has to use boats.Some of the houses we passed were more modern but many, like this one, looked like they have been around for years.

I don’t think that many people go on these boat trips. We saw the boats there but we had a hard time trying to find someone who would take us out. I don’t think Thai people like going out in the heat of the day. We eventually found this guy who took us out for an hour long trip for a low 200 baht. If this was Bangkok we would have probably been charged 800 baht at least. For the whole time that we were at this market, we didn’t see any other foreigners at all. So, the vendors and local people were really friendly and happy to see us there. It is not a major floating market, but it is a good escape from the other tourist traps.

Map for Wat Takien Floating Market:
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Day Trip to Farm Chokchai

If you have ever driven along the Friendship Highway on your way to Nakhon Ratchasima then you have probably noticed this giant cow. It belongs to Farm Chokchai which is in the heart of cowboy country in Northeastern Thailand. I now that sounds strange as we are not in America. Normally we think of rice fields and buffaloes roaming the countryside. Not cowboys on horseback herding cows around large estates.

Farm Chokchai was started by Chokchai Bulakul back in 1957. The farm began with beef cattle but later turned their attention to a dairy heard. Today the farm covers an area of 8,000 acres and has 5,000 head of cattle. In recent years, the farm started their award-winning agro tours where people can learn about the running of a dairy farm which also includes hands on experience of milking a cow, making ice cream, petting farm animals and watching a cowboy show.

I took Nong Grace there at the weekend for her first visit. The farm is open from Tuesday to Sunday. During the week they only have two scheduled tours at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. However, at the weekend they have six rounds starting at 9 a.m. and the last one at 3 p.m. We were advised to telephone in advance to book a tour. You then have to turn up about 30 minutes beforehand to pay for it. As it turned out, we were over an hour early and were lucky to be able to change to an earlier time. Tickets cost 250 baht for adults and 125 baht for children. During the week it is slightly cheaper. Incidentally, foreigners and Thais are charged the same price.

The tours start off with a short movie. Then you are taken outside to see the Machinery Museum where you can see the original vehicles used at the farm. Our guide only spoke Thai but there were signs in English. Our next stop was the Milking Parlor. Apparently, the Friesian cows have a high yield of milk and so they are milked three times a day. On my father’s farm, we only milked the cows twice a day. The milking procedure is fully automated with enough room for 192 cows to be milked at the same time. Our tour guide gave us a demonstration on how the machines work and also how to milk the cows by hand. If you are keen, you can change into some Wellington boosts and have a go at milking the cows.

We were next taken into the Dairy Plant. This is where they produce four milk products: milk, yoghurt, ice cream and milk toffee. Interestingly, the brand name “Farm Chokchai” was sold some years ago so they call their milk products “Umm…milk”! In the dairy plant we watched a movie which showed us how the milk is pasteurized. We were then taken on a tractor and trailer ride to tour the rest of the farm. Each tour is limited to 80 people due to the size of these trailers. This part of the tour doesn’t have any English subtitles so you just have to admire the views of cows grazing in the fields and farmhands working the land.

A short while later, we reached our first destination. A kind of Wild West Town. In a small arena, we were treated with some stunts where a horseback cowboy lassoed a cow and then showed how they would then brand it. Another cowboy showed us tricks with a lasso and then one more impressed us with his dexterity with a gun. Afterwards, we had some free time to wander around. There are souvenir shops and shooting games to play. These cost 30 baht a game. For older children, there is a chance to ride a horse for 40 baht or to take your whole family on a horse and cart ride for only 100 baht. Unfortunately for Nong Grace, there wasn’t much for a 7 year old girl to do.

A little while later, were back on the trailer to continue our tour. A short distance away we paused by the side of the track to see a demonstration of how a sheep dog can successfully heard sheep into a pen and then up into a truck. We then moved on to our last and final stop. This was the petting zoo and animal show. This is a great place for the younger family members. They have smaller ponies here for the younger kids to try their hand at riding. In the petting zoo you can buy food to feed the animals. Here they have some camels as well as some deer and rabbits. You can also give some milk to the baby calves.

Nong Grace obviously loved the final stop as she could finally ride a pony and also feed the baby animals. She also enjoyed the animal show. In fact she enjoyed the whole day out even though it took us over two hours to drive here from Bangkok. My only complaint is that they put all of the activities for younger kids at one place. This meant that Nong Grace was rushed to ride the pony and feed the animals once she had finished watching the show. They should have had the pony ride at the first stop where she didn’t have so much to do.

I am not sure if foreign tourists would find Farm Chokchai of interest as it isn’t what you see as “traditional Thai”. However, the highlight of any stop here is the Chokchai Steakhouse which had the best steaks I have had in a long time. Whenever I drive to Khorat for a holiday, I always stop here on the way home. I think the tour itself is of more interest to Thai families and expats living in Bangkok. However, if you are on your way to Khorat then it might be worth a small stopover. They even have a boutique camp where you can stay the night in “tents”. If you do this then there are more activities that you can take part in including ice cream making.

Visit farmchokchai.com for more information, We have more ideas for excursions from Bangkok over at Bangkok-Daytrips.com

Map showing the location for Farm Chokchai:
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Bang Noi Floating Market

A short distance north of Amphawa there is another riverside market that has been trying to revive its old community. This is Bang Noi Floating Market that straddles a canal of the same name near the Mae Klong River. There has been a market here for more than one hundred years and at one time hundreds of market vendors and locals used to gather here to buy and sell. They used to meet on the 3rd, 8th and 13th days of the waxing and waning moons of the lunar calendar. However, once they started building roads in this area, the number of people visiting this market dwindled until it nearly died out completely.

After the success of the late afternoon market at Amphawa, the local government here decided to do something to revive Bang Noi Floating Market. They pumped a lot of money into the community to pay for renovations and infrastructure like walkways and bridges. It was formerly re-opened a couple of years ago and has already been hailed a success. Although it doesn’t get as busy as Amphawa, it still has a lot of charm and things of interest. The small numbers allow you to walk comfortably up and down the canalside walkways and visit the shops without interruptions. I like Amphawa but it is getting too crowded these days.

Bang Noi Floating Market is open during the day and starts to wind down in the late afternoon at about the same time as Amphawa starts to get busy. So, if you are looking for somewhere to eat lunch while waiting for Amphawa to open then you might want to consider Bang Noi. It is open every Saturday and Sunday from about 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. I arrived a bit late as I had lunch at Bang Nok Kwaek Riverside Market. By the time I got here at 5 p.m. some of the shops had already started to close. But I could see that there was a good variety of shops that sold souvenirs and handicraft. There was also a lot of delicious food on show.

At one of the piers I noticed that they had a boat service. I spoke with one of the locals and they said that it was a free boat tour up the canal. It was getting late but they agreed to take me. There were two rowers and I sat in the middle. I felt a bit embarrassed as they had to work so hard rowing against the current. I guess it was nearly low tide as a lot of water was flowing down Bang Noi Canal and out into Mae Klong River. From there it flows south past Amphawa Canal, through Samut Songkhram City and out into the Gulf of Thailand. Other canals that feed into Mae Klong River include Damnoen Saduak and Bang Nok Kwaek.

I didn’t really have any idea where we were going, but we ended up at this temple called Wat Sai. As we got out of the boat, one of the monks started talking over the loudspeaker about the history of the temple. Apparently Wat Sai is believed to be over 500 years old. Many of the buildings are built in traditional Thai style with teak wood being used a lot. As I approached the temple I heard the monk suddenly exclaim that “a farang has come to look around the temple”. Nothing like your presence being announced to everyone. Though I seemed to be the only visitor and I could only see half a dozen monks who were sweeping the grounds.

One of the monks offered to give me a tour of the temple. He took me into one of the teak buildings where they had a kind of museum of ancient artefacts. These varied from Buddhist scriptures written by hand on palm leaves to old Thai typewriters. In the basement of another building he showed me around a museum that contained a large variety of different kinds of boats. I asked him how many visitors he had shown around today and he said that I was only the second. Back outside my two oarsmen were waiting to row me back to the market. I felt a bit awkward having this all for free so I gave them a good tip once we got back. I will definitely come here again but next time I will come in the morning and eat lunch here.

The following is a map showing the location of the market and other attractions nearby.
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Bang Nok Kwaek 100 Year Market

After the success of Amphawa Floating Market in Samut Songkhram, other communities in the area decided to try their hand at a weekend market. One such example is Bang Nok Kwaek Market which is alongside the Mae Klong River north of Amphawa [MAP]. The buildings and market here are actually over one hundred years old, but after the roads were built and less people travelled by boat, the market was practically abandoned.

Then a few years back, the local community decided to revive the old market. Although it doesn’t have the hustle and bustle of its younger cousin at Amphawa, it certainly makes up for it with its old time charm and friendly shopkeepers. If you want to experience an old Thai riverside market without the crowds of tourists then its worth spending an hour or so at Bang Nok Kwaek Market. Incidentally, the name comes from the Black-crowned Night Heron which is common along the river banks here.

I arrived at Bang Nok Kwaek in time for lunch. There was a decent variety of food worth trying out. There were crab noodles, khao haeng (rice soup without the soup) and pad thai kung maenam. It is the last one which I opted for and what you can see in this picture. I am sure many of you have had pad thai with fresh shrimp before, but this version has a large river shrimp. It tasted very good and cost 40 baht. My other snack was krathong tong which was equally delicious.

A visit to a riverside market wouldn’t be complete without a boat ride. That was why I was happy to spot this boat moored at one of the piers. I quickly finished my iced coffee and headed for the pier. Another surprise was a sign in Thai on the pier that said that the boat trips were free. I asked the boatmen about this later as we cruised along the Mae Klong river. He told me that the intention was to help promote the market but also the house of a local man who sells plants and herbal drinks. It was this house which was our destination. It was only a 30 minute trip but certainly worth doing.

You can reach Bang Nok Kwaek from Amphawa by travelling north on Highway 6006. You can also catch local transport from Samut Songkhram or from Amphawa. Just before the market on your left is the large white cathedral called The Church of the Virgin Mary. Here you go over a bridge and the market is then on your left. Interestingly, this canal is the Western end of Damnoen Saduak Canal which has a famous floating market at the other end. The market and river tours only operate at the weekends from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The following is a map showing the location of the market and other attractions nearby.
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Monks Doing Alms Round by Boat

For those of you who are finding that Amphawa Floating Market is becoming too crowded and touristy, then I recommend that you step back in time by staying overnight in one of the many homestays that can be found along Amphawa Canal. In the olden days, before roads and cars, these canals were the lifeline of the local villagers.

The first markets were floating markets as people came together on their boats to buy and sell. Other vendors would row up and down the canals selling direct to people in front of their houses. Monks would also leave their temples by boat and row along the canals on their early morning alms round. You don’t often get a chance to see this being practised these days so it is great that it has been revived at Amphawa.

The monks leave their temple before dawn. At the homestay where I spent the night, the owner came and knocked on my door at 6 a.m. to say that the monks would pass our pier soon. About three or four other people sat on the wide verandah waiting for the monks to come. We were lucky that our homestay was right on the water’s edge so the monks would pass right by us. The first monks came into view about ten minutes later.

The Thais at my homestay politely called out to the monk to come over so that they could make merit. Some of the monks had people rowing for them while others were alone. After the Buddhists had made merit, the monk gave them a short blessing. Even if you are not making merit yourself, it is a peaceful experience just to watch. Most people made merit with about three or four monks.

I stayed watching them for a while then went for a walk along the canal. Compared to the hustle and bustle of the previous night it was such a delight to stroll along the toll-path. It was virtually deserted. The only boats on the water belonged to the monks or vendors selling breakfast to the local people and the few tourists that stayed the night. The monks continued to row up and down the canal until about 7:15 a.m. I am really glad that I had got up early to experience this.

Cathedral in Samut Songkhram

One of the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals in Thailand is The Nativity of Our Lady Cathedral next to Bang Nok Kwaeng Riverside Market in Samut Songkhram. The cathedral has been a dominant feature of the river banks of the Maeklong River for over one hundred years. The walls are made of highly-heated clay brick coated with sugar cane molasses mixed into the lime. The colour of the exterior walls comes from a mixture containing charcoal powder.

In the year 1835, Bishop Courvesy was installed by the Holy Father in Rome as the first Bishop of Siam. He invited Friar Albrand from Singapore to help with the pastoral work at Rosary Church in Talad Noi in Bangkok. On his missionary journey, Friar Albrand passed through the Maeklong River valley. On reaching a village on the banks of Simuen Canal, he found eight Chinese Catholic families who had moved there from Rosary Church and had settled on this fertile land.

By the year 1847 there were about 200 Catholics and they built a wooden church with a thatched roof near the Raung Yao irrigation canal. In 1850, Friar Marin acquired a piece of good land near the Damnoen Saduak Canal which linked the Tajeen and Maeklong rivers. In 1890, Friar Paulo Salmon, whose statue you can see in the picture above, started the construction of the cathedral. It took six long years before they were finally able to celebrate the grand opening on 11th February 1896.

The stained glass windows were made by the Hector Co. from France. They depict stories from the Bible and of the Virgin Mary. During World War II, some parts of the church and the stained glass were damaged. The cathedral was renovated in 1994 just in time for its centenary celebrations. Today there are about 2,000 Catholics registered in the district though some of these have now moved away to work elsewhere.

You can reach the cathedral by heading north from Amphawa. Pass the Rama II Park and head towards Bang Nok Kwaeng [MAP]. The cathedral is open Wednesday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you find it locked then inquire at the nearby information center. Mass is celebrated Monday to Friday at 6:15 a.m., first Friday and Saturday of the month at 7:30 p.m. and on Sundays at 6:30 a.m. and 9 a.m.

Tha Kha Floating Market

The most popular floating market in Thailand for tourists is undoubtedly at Damnoen Saduak. However, if you want to avoid the bus loads of tourists on a very well worn trail then I suggest that you head out to Tha Kha Floating Market (ตลาดน้ำท่าคา). This market is a short distance away in Samut Songkhram Province [MAP]. I was using a homestay at Amphawa Floating Market as my base and it only took me about 15 minutes to drive here. It is a bit in the middle of no-where if you don’t have your own transport. But, I am told you can catch a songtaew here from the market in Samut Songkhram City.

The Tha Kha Floating Market is far more genuine than Damnoen Saduak. Just think the same but twenty years ago. It is the kind of place where the boat vendors were also selling to each other in addition to the small number of Thai tourists that turn up. For the entire time that I was there I only saw three foreign tourists and each of them had personal Thai guides. I seemed to be the only foreigner there without a guide. One thing that I don’t like about Damnoen Saduak are the rows of souvenir shops all selling the same tacky items. At Tha Kha it was mainly fruit and vegetables but also some OTOP products made by local people.

Like at Damnoen Saduak, you can also go on a boat tour of the local canals. If I remember right, at Damnoen Saduak this costs something like 400 baht if not more. However, here it costs only 20 baht each! Which is ridiculously cheap. When I first went to Damnoen Saduak most boats had people rowing, though these days they all seem to have noisy motors. At Tha Kha they will paddle you along the narrow canals in peace and quiet so that you can better appreciate your environment. I was taken to three locations. Two old houses that are more than 100 years old and also a sugar palm factory.

The market starts running at about 8 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. The earlier you go the better. As it is a traditional market, you will find that the main days are on the 2nd, 7th and 12th days of the waxing and waning moon. You will need a special lunar calendar to work this out. As they are trying to develop this market as a tourist destination, it is also now open at the weekends. While I was there they were constructing some wooden buildings on the opposite bank. I presume to add places for people to eat or maybe more shops. I suggest that you go here sooner rather than later before it becomes too commercialized.

The following is a map showing the location of the market and other attractions nearby.


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