Whatever Floats Your Boat

“Our love was lost;

But now we’ve found it.”

– Love Lost, The Temper Trap

On the theme of “Afloat” for this week’s Photo Challenge, I immediately thought of Hat Yai’s Floating Market I visited last December during one of my trips to Hat Yai and Songkhla as part of my fieldwork. I’d never heard of the market before so I had no idea what to expect; when I got there, I was over the moon when I discovered that this place was in fact a food haven, for there was an entire row of boats with men and women (who are Thai but ethnically Malay and therefore Muslims) selling some of the best food I’d come across during my visit to Southern Thailand.

I had a sample of the ais batu kacang (ABC — a sort of sweet delicacy made of crushed ice showered with syrups of all colors and some red beans, jellies, and ice cream) and chicken and beef kebab — literally one of the best I’d ever tasted, I swear to you. My only regret was having a big hearty lunch before going to the Floating Market; I had no idea this was meant to be a visit filled with many gastronomic delights, many of which were unfortunately dulled down by my satiated appetite.

From the bridge.

From the bridge.

From above.

From above.

The food sellers are only open for business in the afternoons though, so, if you intend to visit, like I said, best have an early lunch and leave space — lots of it — for dinner here. Speaking of space though, you might have to shove some elbows or avoid wearing heels if you want to run to book one of the limited tables around the area before they are swarmed by the other tourists and not accidentally fall into the river. Eating spaces are severely limited, so at least be prepared to eat while you stand, something which I always find awkward doing. Since my mother and I were too nice to shove our way to claim our space on that seat occupied by the other visitors’ bags, we did end up eating while we stood awkwardly on the sidewalk. However, my mother remarked that all this new infrastructure — small chalets with tables and seats and benches on the pavement along the riverbank — are all pretty new development, since they weren’t there before when she visited some time in the first half of 2014.

Don't expect the vendor to stand up and rock the boat just to hand over your food or change; a basket and a stick will do the trick.

Don’t expect the vendor to stand up and rock the boat just to hand over your food or change; a basket and a stick will do the trick.

I must say, I was tremendously pleased to find that my taste buds absolutely agree with the spicy-and-sour-sweetness of Thai cuisine, and Southern Thailand offers plenty of opportunities for me to experiment with Thai food as it is convenient to get halal food since this region is predominantly Muslim. All that Tom Yam and deep-fried massive prawns from Phattalung I had (on more than one occasion, I must guiltily admit) and fresh, succulent, juicy sweet mangoes with glutinous rice and coconut milk certainly made fieldwork all the more bearable. I was already spending my days getting traumatized by interviewing middle-aged Malay men about polygamy and their sex life — something which they always brought to the table, I assure you, and never initiated by yours truly — so I think it’s fair game that I rewarded myself every now and then.

Let’s just hope this next phase of research will be as productive and gastronomically fulfilling.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Afloat.”


129 thoughts on “Whatever Floats Your Boat

  1. Pingback: Afloat | My Atheist Blog

  2. Reblogged this on escapealvacio and commented:
    Lo que te conviene

    “Nuestro amor se perdió; pero ahora lo hemos encontrado.” – Amor perdido, La Trampa del Genio en el tema de “estar aflote” para este reto de fotografías para esta semana. De inmediato, pensé en el mercado flotante de Hay Yai que visité el diciembre pasado, durante uno de mis viajes a Hay Yai y Songkhla como parte de mi trabajo de campo.

    By: @feelosophical

    Liked by 3 people

  3. My taste buds are a tingle as I imagine sampling the various Thai delicacies at the floating market. The vibrant colors in the photographs also lend an attractiveness to the whole experience. My husband lived in Thailand for five years and is very hard to please in regards to finding authentic Thai in our area of suburban CT. Though we have found one restaurant that he claims makes the best Mango Sticky Rice he has ever tried. I can only imagine this delightful treat as sampled at the floating market! Thank you for your post which excites both mind and palette. I think I will visit Thai restaurant this evening which incidentally has a large photograph of the floating market on its center wall though in black and white and from at least two decades ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for this interesting comment, Kathy! Did you end up going to the Thai restaurant that evening? I also find it hard to find authentic Thai food anywhere else — Thailand is definitely the place to go! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I did not go. I am afraid that I will lose fondness for the restaurant if we frequent too often! I often fall into the habit of finding a new dish I love (one I discovered was a ground pork lettuce wrap (delicious!) and then preparing and serving continuously to my family. So, I try to keep the Thai restaurant at bay 🙂 Yes, perhaps a trip to Thailand is in order…


      • Ah, I know what you mean! One should never have too much of the good things in life or they’ll lose their special touch 😉 I’m positive Thailand won’t be a disappointment (especially in the gastronomic department…), so do visit!


  4. This sounds amazing. I love traveling and trying new foods. I have always wanted to go to Thailand, because it’s so different from where I’m from. I’ve only been to two continents – America and Europe – so there is a lot of the world I haven’t seen. This post makes me want to visit Thailand even more! I’ve heard it’s a beautiful country.


  5. Pingback: The Principles of Design: Visual Hierarchy | The Daily Post

  6. Hi! Nice pictures! I’m ready to gooooo! Stop by and say hi:)

    Hi! I am just waking up in this life! I want to connect with you! I want to learn about you! I want to create cool and exciting things with you! I want tons of money! I want to travel! I want lots of toys! I want to be a good and nice person! I want to be a good Buddhist and stop wanting to stop wanting things! I want to help the Earth be pure again! I want to live in excitement every single moment! I want the BOOM BOOM CLASH LIFE. I want to be a model! I want to be an actor! I want to have a million views on my wordpress site! I want to meet superheros! I want to ride a zipline from the top of Mt. Everest! Sooooo! Come say hi! Check out my site! YAAAAY:):):)


  7. I have lived in Bangkok but never tried the “ais batu kacang” or visited the floating market. I think I will give it a try next time I am there. Looks very nice.


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