We were in Thailand on a rather strange media tour. Pattaya is a party-tourist beach centre just across the Gulf from Bangkok. Before coming to Thailand, we had dreams of shopping at a floating market — this was the closest we came.
The “Pattaya Floating Market” is a water market wrapped in a bow. Small wood shack gift shops connect with each other over low bridges and small food boats are moored at intersections. Without getting too far into a story about the trip we found ourselves on and all of its staged introductions to Thai society, we were fairly disappointed to find ourselves in a reproduction floating market. But what often saves even the worst attempts at facade and pastiche is the fact that people will always be people. People and the marks they leave around them are interesting no matter what.
Another saving grace was also the remarkable quality of the food made on those tiny floating kitchens. Each man or woman fried, stewed, and prepared one fresh and beautiful single serving after another of fragrant delicious food. Food as cultural introduction can never be underestimated.