CHATUCHAK WEEKEND MARKET
…HOT AS HELL
CHATUCHAK. If you’ve got to know me through different posts, you know I die for markets. No, I mean, really. I do. I could kill for them! So, let’s face it, let’s get out of the closet for once and for all: (family, you too, listen to me!). If we stayed in Bangkok on a Saturday instead of escaping to the relaxing paradise of the islands, I am the one to blame. And Chatuchak, of course. Neither weird train schedules nor hotel bookings; not even starts colliding on Bangkok skies. It was me and this maniac compulsive love for street markets.
Yes, there are thousands of markets to choose from, I know… And I wish I had a month in Bangkok, I know I would have found 30 different markets to visit, one for every day. But our stay was shorter, so I had to make up my mind.
It had to be Chatuchak
After a long ride on the metro, from Bangkok central train station, we got down at Kamphaeng Phet to avoid crossing the park (saving energies to walk the market, it is possible to see the park later, taking a rest in the afternoon, after all the shopping). We literally emerged in the middle of chaos.
Back home, my main concern was what would I do if, in the middle of my shopping hassle, I remained out of cash — such an innocent thought. No cash? No problem… ATMs are everywhere inside the market.
The first thing I noticed once there was the heat. We had been advised to arrive early and so we did, as early as one can arrive when coming with two kids. Two occidental kids whom everyone wants to have selfies taken with! Thais are amazingly nice and my kids love making friends so… it was selfies all the way. After this “We’re-becoming-famous-in-Thailand!” madness, we finally made it.
Once you’re there it looks like a normal street market, some food stands and some regular stalls selling any other kind of goods in front of them. However, once you get closer and look better, it’s like being hit, on the head, with a big wooden pole and all of a sudden. “Kids, stay close and give me your hands, if you’re lost here, you’re lost for good.“
Alleys of all kinds and in all directions start developing around in the form of narrow corridors where mini stalls follow one after the other, on and on, for meters and meters, dividing themselves into immense mazes according to the category of goods: backpacks, shorts and t-shirts, shoes, pants and tailor-made suits, food, handmade soap, oils, pets (dogs, cats, fish, whatever!), handcrafted hats, plants (both natural and artificial), candles, military gear, knives, dishes, pots, Buddhas, hobo bags… whatever it is you’re looking for, if you do not find it, it’s just you did not look well enough.
Out of little but suffered experience, do accept this humble piece of advice (which I already knew, but disregarded!). Now I am telling you, take it as if I was telling you twice: if you like something, you buy that something. Right then, right there. Full stop. Some bargaining is fine, but if the seller does not change his mind and you really want it, if the price is Ok and you are decided to buy it, do it, no fussing, not a gasp. Just Buy It. Odds are you won’t be able to find again the same stall (unless you are not looking for it, of course!) and you’ll regret it.
[Tweet “CHATUCHAK: If you like something, you buy that something!”]
Here’s the thing: my kids wanted some Jurassic World tees and I was not certain about getting them or not. It took us about two hours to find the stall again, get the tees and face the smile of the seller with a humiliating “I knew you were going to be back, kids got pretty naughty about the tees, right?“ look on his face.
Yes, yes… I would have
killed kicked the guy, and my kids too for not stopping the Let’s-go-get-Dino-tees-please! tantrum under 37 °C.
Got the tees? Like them? Good! Let’s go get some ice cream.
After ice cream with as many toppings as you can try (beans, corn, rice…) and those infamous t-shirts already in my bag, I started buying for me, myself and I. (Well, for hubby as well as, and for friends back home too). There’s no need to mention it was elephant-pant festival. As kitsch as they might look, I love them! We also got a few good deals on shoes and, when we were almost done (you’re never really done in JJ), we chose the Thaiest of all Thai places to eat.
Amazing spicy Thai food for me and my husband, fruits of all kinds for the children, plus more ice cream. We ate in a small corner, right behind a tremendously hot kitchen, in the very core of a food stand run by a family. We saw mom cook, son serve and dad charge. Amazing organization, extraordinary kindness, freshness and tastes. All for less than 10 euros. I would love to eat there again and again if I came back to Chatuchak, just next to the motorbike parking lot, very close to exit 1, if you’re interested.
Once we had eaten, – for the record, it was a quarter to 4 – we walked along for a while, stopping by here and there for the last hour deals. We left the market crossing the street to reach Chatuchak Park. A deep breath and ready face all the little stalls literally assaulting the streets. Once the market starts to close a new market goes live outside. What do they sell? The same things they sell inside, more food (who doubted?, food is kind of a Thai Olympic sport!), more electronics and so, so many other things.
I would have never bet on my being tired of street stalls. I just wanted to reach the park, some green, some fresh air!
When we finally did so, it was heaven! Some women rented big mats to sit on the grass and enjoy the afternoon. Who doubted? Chatuchak had finished me, my level of patience, my heat tolerance. I just wanted a bottle of water and lie on the floor. I still had to face a night train trip to Chumphon… and I still had bags and bags of shopping to stuff in my backpacks stored in the station. Oh Gosh! It’s not closed yet, let’s go back to the market. Let’s buy another backpack.
And so we did. It proved wise.