March 10, 2015
A glorious mix of blazing colour, wet shirts and a Bloody Food Battle
Where: Courtyard and waterside of Rat Charoen Tham Temple (Wat Sun) Damnoen Sub district Ratchaburi Province
How to get there from Bangkok: Click here taking in the ‘Umbrella Pull Down Market’
Sweet Grape and Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Fair (งานเทศกาลองุ่นหวานและตลาดน้ำดำเนินสะดวก)
I know the title of the fair does not conjure up, many mental images of fun, but this really is a great event and it is the most popular festival in Ratchaburi. (Ratchaburi means, “The land of the king.” often shortened to Rat’buri).
Dammoen Saduak Floating Market alone is one of Thailand’s top tourist destinations, it is one of the few places close to the capital, where you can still see rural life, as it was centuries ago. The market normally starts cranking up in the very early hours of the morning and winds down from 11:00 A.M. but during the fair the day goes on much longer.
While the event is predominately an agricultural affair celebrating local produce, the grape takes centre stage and is much loved by the local people who all seem to try their hand in producing this locally famous sweet fruit.
Entwined in the 2 days of festivities will be a huge range of cultural and fun events from glorious displays of folk art and crafts featuring locally produced, cloth weaving called “Sin Tin Chok“, to Dragon jar making (Ratchaburi is known as “the city of earth jars”).
There are also a multitude of cultural performances including song and dance by local tribal groups, including the Karen who live near the border of Myanmar, Mon, Lawa, Lao, Chinese and Khmer minorities. That’s not all there is also a hilarious “sea-boxing” competition and a number of formal and not so formal boating competitions, along with a beauty pageant.
Bloody Food Battle
During the two days there is also the eagerly awaited Battle of the Boat Noodles. Where contestants line up to cook their best Kuay Teow Reua (ต้อยก๋วยเตี๋ยวเรือ), the name translates to “boat noodles.” The dish was originally served right out of boats floating in the khlong’s (canals).
This traditional Thai dish is much loved by the people of central Thailand and especially the people of Bangkok, once known as the Venice of the East, (that title is now worn by Ayutthaya), even though it has lost most of its original canals to urbanization, it has not lost its love of this aromatic thick and intensely spicy broth, that gets much of its flavour from the addition of cows blood.
Other ingredients if you are still reading this are; stewed pork or beef, cabbage, star arise, Chinese five spice powder, garlic, cinnamon stick, coriander roots, soy sauce, rock sugar, noodles and morning glory.
The dish is completed with any or all of the following toppings: Pork or beef balls, wonton skin, fried garlic and coriander to garnish. I love this dish as it truly is a dish that contains all the ingredients of Thailand; the warmth and depth of its people, stunning aromas, thick in history and a pleasure to share with others.
Thrown into this melting pot of colour and noise will be a mass of vendors both on land and water selling all manner of local hand crafts, along with the ever present aromas from freshly cooked succulent food and a huge range of hot and cold drinks to keep you going.
This is undoubtebly the biggest festival in the province and if you combine the event with an en route visit to the bizarre and colourful ‘Umbrella Pull Down Market’ you cannot help but fall in love with the people of this richly diverse part of Thailand.
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