Trying to get over my paranoia of contracting a waterborne disease, I sat in front of the speedboat that took us to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and enjoyed the sensation of being splashed in the face by passing boats. After toppling out, we strolled around the markets. I was ecstatic about a picture I had just bought of a small Buddhist child. The Buddhist child, or more correctly, novice, was slowly becoming an obsession for me. I don’t know why, but I had to catch photos of the little boys draped in their signature orange robes. Maybe it was the fact that I could not imagine any child I had ever babysat being so interested in religion that he or she would give up being a child. Needless to say, I was excited about my purchase, but my heightened mood was ruined when as I walked across a bridge an old vendor grabbed me and started rubbing an oily mixture on my temples and neck. I was so shocked that a stranger was touching my face that I just stood there dumbstruck for a long moment. Then I glared at him and stalked off, ignoring his shouts of “Tiger balm—200 Baht just for you!”
The balm felt a little like Vicks vapor rub, very menthol-y. At first it felt fine, but within a few minutes my temples started burning. Then it got worse. I told my friends I thought I was having an allergic reaction—and I tried to rub it off. Then as if I had a sudden epiphany, I shrieked “topical roofie!” and started raking at my face and neck trying to get the stuff off. I was catching hesitant looks from passersby, but within a few minutes, the balm created a very pleasant cooling effect on my skin. I decided to swallow my pride, walked back over the bridge, and haggled for the largest jar the elderly assaulter had.
After pocketing my glass jar of Tiger Balm (which Del explained can be used to alleviate anything from sore muscles to the common cold), and still standing on the bridge, I glanced over the edge and practically dumped all the contents of my purse into the water trying frantically to get my camera out. The floating market looked like a slow-motion version of bumper boats, except that the produce-laden canoes never collided even though the water was hardly visible because there were so many of them. Wrist-strap in place, I leaned over the edge as far as I could and snapped the perfect picture: two small canoe-like boats, weighed down with brightly colored fruit and two wide-brimmed straw hats signifying the women who were attending to it.