Day 30: Saturday morning again – the weeks keep rolling around. We had a nice lazy start to the day, with coffee and breakfast at our apartment – we’re enjoying not having to eat out for every meal. Our plan today was another walk, though shorter than yesterday, and to have a look at Chatuchak Market, one of the world’s largest weekend markets.
We caught the Skytrain (experts that we are now), and got off at Saphin Taksin station on the way. Our plan was to catch a ferry from there to the other side of the river, and walk around some wats and a bird sanctuary that sounded really interesting. However we discovered that the ‘short boat ride’ mentioned in the article Lil read earlier in the day, was in fact a pretty long one, so we changed our minds and parked that for another day. Meanwhile the lady at the tourist office was trying to shoo us out the door as she had “business to do outside”, so we didn’t have a chance to ask her about alternatives.
So it was a ‘make it up as you go along’ kind of day. We got the Skytrain another stop to Kron Thom Buri and walked around the local area, headed through a temple and down through a laneway to the river, to get some photos across the city.
Then we headed off to explore Chatuchak Market. We caught the Skytrain to the end of the end of ‘the green line’ (we still haven’t worked out what the individual lines are called) to Mo Chit station. It was was easy to work out which way the market was – just follow the huge crowds – the market attracts over 200,000 visitors each day, so the local roads were heaving.
The market covers 27 acres, divided into 27 sections with over 15,000 stalls – it’s massive. It’s the place to buy anything and everything from t-shirts, vintage clothes, handicrafts, ceramics, plants, toys, antiques and silk flowers to Superman dog and cat outfits. We spent a couple of hours wandering around then headed to a local park to escape the mayhem and the heat.
We parked ourselves on a couple of the functional concrete seats by the lake, chomping bananas and nuts while watching huge cat fish and carp jumping for scraps of food other visitors were throwing into the water.
On the subject of bananas (or bananology as Lil calls it), we’ve noticed how different local bananas are to the ones we buy in Sydney supermarkets. They’re much smaller, a lot sweeter and the last two bunches we’ve bought have had large black seeds, which we’ve never seen before. A quick spot of Google research explains that commercially sold bananas (Cavendish etc) have been bred over time to be seed-free (a bit like seedless watermelon). The ones we’ve bought more recently from local fruit stalls are straight from the countryside, or perhaps even local trees, and come complete with seeds that are capable of breaking teeth.
As we wandered back through the park, a group of young guys and a girl stopped and asked if we could please help them. Turns out they are studying English and they wanted to interview and video us as part of their course program. We agreed, and then giggled our way through a series of questions about our clothes shopping habits (we both hate clothes shopping); our views on fashion and whether we think designer clothes are necessary (we really don’t); the weirdest outfit we have ever seen (Lil’s response – a potato sack made into a dress); where we are from and why we are in Thailand (travel, adventure and experiencing crazy moments like this). It was fun and it’s also amusing to think of our smiley faces popping up in a classroom somewhere.
Then we walked to the Skytrain station, passing a very cute squirrel hanging from a tree, happily stuffing its face.
We stopped at the local supermarket near home to pick up some more bread for breakfast, and a couple of local beers to sling in the fridge. It was all going well, until a manager came over to the checkout and wagged his finger at the beer. Another of those uncomfortable moments when you can feel dozens of pairs of eyes on you, but have no idea what the issue is. Someone explained it was the wrong time to buy beer – it was only 4.56pm and we needed to wait until 5.00pm. We now understand alcohol can only be sold or served here between 11am and 2pm; and between 5pm and midnight (and there are strict fines for anyone who does otherwise). Local knowledge and all that.
We had an early dinner at the shopping mall – Green Chicken Curry and Tom Yum Goong spicy soup, both fabulous though perhaps Jim shouldn’t have asked for extra chilli in his – he choked and spluttered his way through the soup. Then we headed home, showered and changed and went for a Saturday evening pint at a bar about 15 minutes walk away. The pub was packed, with an interesting mix of expats and locals, delivering a confusing babble of English and Thai languages.
A group of expats near us were celebrating an occasion (either that or their drinking habits were way out of control) – between six of them they drank beers, then a magnum of Veuve Clicquot bubbly, more beers, then they ordered a 3 litre bottle (no joking) of Limoncello which they asked the barman to whizz up with ice. There’s an extremely good chance they will be feeling horribly hungover tomorrow.
Then home for an earlyish night, with our teeth brushing briefly interrupted by the need to deal with a cockroach the size of a small mouse, and off to bed.