Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Chatuchak Weekend Market

This past weekend, we finally got up the courage and energy to make our first trip to Chatuchak Weekend Market. A well-known and popular tourist destination, it's probably one of the first places people visit when they come to Thailand. We're probably the only people at our school who did not go there as soon as we landed in Thailand. It took us well over 1 1/2 years to visit because it involves two things I cannot stand: crowds and shopping.

Furthermore, here in Thailand, when one is thinking about going on an outing, one always has to weigh all the obstacles against the value of the outing itself and decide whether or not the outing is worth going through all the obstacles. In our case, we likely won't go there again, but we wanted to see it and experience it just once. For one, just the traffic alone makes going anywhere tedious. It took us 1 hour and 40 minutes to get there, including almost one hour sitting in traffic just to get to the sky train (but only 30 minutes in a taxi and half the price to get home!). Then, it was very, very hot that day and it was crowded with annoying people. I know some teachers -- my son's teacher being one of them -- who go there almost every weekend. I have no idea how they can stand sitting in traffic for so long just to acquire stuff.

Chatuchak Weekend Market is Thailand's largest market. I've heard that it's the size of four football fields. Whether or not that's true, I can't say, but as the video below says, the market has more than 15,000 stalls selling everything imaginable, including the kitchen sink, literally (porcelain ones, which I know several women at our school had bought and lugged back to the U.S. over the last winter break!). It was a little overwhelming at first due to the fact that I have not really gone shopping in such a large shopping area for a long time now, but it's much more organized than I had imagined. Even so, walking through the aisles, there was nothing I found truly appealing, even though there were vendors selling some really beautiful things. To me, after having been to other markets, none of the things being sold there was all that unique. They were mostly things sold by other vendors at other markets to appeal to the tourists. And the prices reflected the fact that Chatuchak is a tourist destination, which it didn't used to be. I'm sure if I had gone there within the first months of coming to Thailand, I would've been more taken with all the things I saw.

In the end, the outing was more pleasant than I had expected, aside from the crowd and the heat. We kept our time there relatively short (1 1/2 hours -- shorter than the time it took us to get there and get home); we didn't go there with the intention to shop, so we could stroll leisurely and relax; and we stopped for many breaks for popsicles and cold drinks (I love the fresh fruit drinks in Thailand and other parts of Asia!). We left before we got annoyed to go to the park next door, where we had a leisurely picnic lunch, relaxed, and let our son play at the playground, even though it was a gazillion degrees out and there was very little shade. Because green spaces are so limited in Bangkok, we were very happy to just sit and take in the trees and green grass around us. It was a nice way to end our trip.
A map of the market to guide shoppers.
Getting our popsicles. Since the video, the price has gone up 20 percent...to all of 5 baht!
Hanging monkeys.
Porcelain everything.
Beautiful tapestries.
An aisle at the market.
Rows and rows of clothes for dogs. There were also hats and shoes!
One of the better ideas from the Thais: put drinks in plastic sleeves with handles, so you can wear it on your wrist and free your hands to hold other things.
Bottle lighting.
Chatuchak Park.

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