Sunday, August 18, 2013

Grocery Shopping, Thai Style. Sort of.

This morning, we decided to take advantage of the awesome weekend market, Sammakorn Weekend Market, near us and go on our first major grocery shopping trip in person. Up till now, I had been ordering groceries online because it's so convenient, but the things we want aren't always sold online.

We set out early on our scooter and rode out to Rhamkamhaeng Road, the busy street that connects all the soi (side streets), including the one that goes to our neighborhood. We parked on the side street outside our neighborhood a couple of blocks from Rhamkamhaeng, where we caught the local bus to the market. We got an air-conditioned bus, so it cost 11 baht (as opposed to 8 baht for a non-air-conditioned bus) for each adult, and my son rode for free.
One thing I discovered that made me happy was that I could hold onto the metal bars on the ceiling of the bus without standing on my toes! Here, I am no longer a shorty; I am actually average height!

As you can see, there are just rows and rows of vendors selling everything from clothes to shoes and handbags to food and drinks and plants.

We didn't get any today, but the fresh crab meat and shrimp are fairly inexpensive. If I remember correctly, 11 ounces of crab meat costs about $7.

Smoked fish.

There were at least three buckets of live turtles like these that people buy and release back into the khlong (canals) for religious purposes. The ironic thing is that the same turtles are then probably caught, bought, and released over and over again. The cycle just continues.

Live eels.

Seafood galore, including fresh crabs.

There's no rhyme or reason to the placement of these stalls. Here, a snack stall is right next to a jewelry stall.

This was one of three or four stalls selling toys. We tried to get something for my son and tried to bargain down the price, but the vendors wouldn't go low enough for us, so we ended up not buying anything. We have heard from many people that the toys made in Thailand are very cheaply made and break within days of purchase, so we didn't want to pay too much (which, really, is still cheap compared to American prices - $5 to $10....I guess we're getting spoiled).

After we had our fill of the market, we crossed the parking lot to the western market, called Villa Market.

Some of the prices are pretty high. For example, the steaks pictured here cost over $30 each.

The cheese section. We bought one block of mozarella for a little over $3 (which is still cheaper than the ones I saw online), and one block of parmesan for a little over $7.

We were delighted to see goldfish crackers! We hadn't had one in over a month! But they cost over $2 a bag, so what was once an everyday snack will now become a special treat.

Cheerios!! These boxes are smaller than the ones we are used to in the U.S., and they were at least $7 for one box!

One of my favorites. A small bag costs $4. Good, I guess, because that means I won't be buying or eating them!

So, to compare, we bought all kinds of veggies at the weekend market for about $7 total...

But spent over $90 on not a lot of stuff at the western market. These will probably last us a week at most. We used to be able to buy almost two weeks' worth of groceries at Trader Joe's for less than that!

After shopping, we took a taxi back to where our scooter was parked. The highlight of the trip for my son was that we got to ride in an SUV taxi for the first time ever.

We managed to get five bags of groceries (totaling probably 50 pounds or so) and the three of us on our scooter! The weight limit for our scooter is about 300 pounds, so we definitely exceeded that! Now we just have to add another 50 pounds next time and we will be just like the Thai people.

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