Sunday, June 1, 2008

Chatuchak/Mo Chit Weekend Market, Bangkok, Thailand

Today I once again took a weekend "stroll" to one of the largest markets in Thailand, the Chatuchak Weekend Market. Fortunately it is only a few minutes from my home here in Bangkok and by using the BTS, I need to go only a single station before I exit.

Bangkok Post article on the plants at Chatuchak Market.

My normal routine is to leave around 8AM and exit the next to last station (Saphan Khwai) on this BTS line. I think most go directly to the market and exit at Mo Chit but I prefer to take in the many individuals who have brought their small assortment of items from home and are now selling them between Saphan Khwai and Mo Chit. Even if you are in no hurry and manage a glance at each person's "carpet" of wares, it won't take more than 15 minutes to end up at one of the many entrances to Chatuchak and its' 6000 stalls.

My goals are simple when I do this as I collect two things here in Asia at the moment that I know can sometimes be found from individuals. One is Chinese snuff bottles and the other is used phone cards. As weird as that might sound, both are collectables in both Europe and North America and are quite interesting, enjoyable and can on occasion be worth considerably more than you paid. This morning I am once again lucky and find one person selling six bottles. I select three and start talking about price. We manage to get his asking price down from 220 each to 500 baht for the three I want. He wanted 550 but when I started to walk away, it went to 500. Nice bottles.

A few of the many vendors lining the street between the Saphan Khwai and Mo Chit BTS (Skytrain) stations. The vast majority are involved in selling and trading Buddhist amulets.

Once I got to the market with my new possessions, I immediately head for a weekend "cafe" where I swear you can drink the best coffee in Thailand. They also make a mean honey or banana pancake as well. Two cups of coffee and a pancake later, I pay my 45 Baht and head down the many aisles packed with goods from all over Thailand.

My favorite weekend cafe at the market.

Always smiling, happy people here!

The market itself is talked about in so many guidebooks that I can do little here to describe it better but I can tell you about my favorite places to visit.

I guess my favorite, being a teacher and loving to read, is the used book stalls at the far end near the antique dealers. I guess I like used and old things as both the vendors who have my Chinese Snuff Bottles and those that carry used books are literally next to the other. Fine with me as this place is huge!!

In the stalls that have used books, one really needs to spend a lot of time to go through the many "jewels" that can be found here. One thing I am also looking for is used English books from Reward, New Interchange, etc. and I have always been able to find them here at considerably less than their new price in Siam Square bookshops.

You can also find every magazine here, textbook and novel. Many in Thai of course, but almost as many in English. With the cost of books and magazines so incredibly high here in Asia, this is the best deal going that I have found for books. Of course all prices are negotiable as always.

One of the markets many used book vendors.

I than start strolling down the many long aisles. As the morning gets older, the sun higher and the crowds larger, these aisles become almost impassible and the buildings quite hot. I prefer to come early and move fast!

There really is everything from everywhere. The fish and animals always make me stop and look. Some guide books complain of their captivity, I guess if they have to be where they are, why not enjoy them? The silk flowers are amazing in their beauty and design. The craftsmanship in the wood items always amazes me.

There is of course stall after stall of clothing items and shoes. Some quite unique actually. There is a small assortment of stalls where you could literally outfit a small army with everything but the actual weapons. I have eaten at several of the food stalls often and it is always good, very fast and cheap, but I think the thing I like best is watching the people.

This is where I usually eat on my visits to the market.

It is the people that I go to Chatuchak for, both the Thais and the foreigners. The Thais are always watching and when you catch them watching, it is always interesting to see what they do next. Most will smile, some will quickly look away and only when you are not watching, look right back at you again. There is always a bit of flirting going on, even from some that you might not want to be flirting with you. Want to know who? Go to one of Thailand's largest market and experience it all!

7 July, Went today a bit later than usual, around 2PM and it was brutally hot. The kind of hot that one can only experience in Bangkok as it must have been over a 100 degrees inside the closed, non-ventilated, metal roofed buildings. Just as it seemed I couldn't take it longer, nature stepped in, and a storm roared up and dumped its' rain and cooled things off dramatically. What a relief it was!

Between the buildings a canvass covers the walking are and it is pouring down between the sheets!

I actually got to explore a section I had never been in before. I guess I'll call it the "new section". It was far less crowded but I did manage to find a new lamp here and got some amazingly beautiful silk ties for 10 Baht each. Yes, 10 Baht each!! The same tie in the USA would be at least $20-$30 USD.

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