Saturday, September 23, 2006

Bangkok Markets

It wasn't a short break (vacation). It was work and I attended the recent Food Ingredient Asia exhibition in Bangkok. It was a tiring trip after away for about a week.
A meeting place for food ingredient specialists, Food Ingredient Asia 2006 was recently held at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center from 13 - 15 September. The three days event drew quite a huge crowd.
The ChinaTown district is one of the oldest areas of Bangkok as Chinese merchants were originally moved to this area in the early 1780's when Bangkok was founded. The area has got a somewhat seedy historical reputation for large numbers of opium dens, brothels (which hung green lanterns outside, giving it the name of the Green Light district), pawnshops and a fondness for gambling. Today, gold shops and pawnshops are still very popular in Chinatown and can be found almost anywhere. I had the chance to explore a bit of the district though a little late - most of the shops were closed. A morning walk in the chinatown and you could explore more - a place with plenty of old heritage.
The Suan Lum Night Bazaar is the first official night bazaar ever available in Thailand. The open air food court (or was it a beer garden ?) sells Thai and western food, all purchased with coupons. Unused coupons can be exchanged for cash.
There is also free entertainment with singing and dancing on a big stage.
Because these markets (Suan Lum and also Chatuchak, below) are big, there are maps available to help shoppers understand the general market layout.
On our way to Patpong, riding a tuk tuk. Did you know there are tuk tuk(s) in other countries as well ?
Patpong is an entertainment district in Bangkok - internationally known as a red light district in the heart of the city. Most Patpong go-go bars feature women dancing on a stage in sexy two-piece garments. The dancers (and even occasionally the serving staff) are generally available to customers willing to pay a bar fine to take them out of the bar (ahem). Several upstairs bars still feature (technically illegal) sex shows, with women performing various creative acts. Perhaps the most notorious of these features women performing exotic feats involving their genitalia and projectile table tennis balls.
We did some hard bargaining at the Patpong Night Market. We skipped the pingpong show but ended up in one of the go-go bars. Plenty of pretty go-go dancers that later my colleague suggested that many maybe ladyboys (kathoeys).
Though there are many markets throughout Bangkok, the Chatuchak Weekend Market is pretty much the undisputed king of them all.
Chatuchak is a particularly good place to buy all sorts of Thai handicrafts, as there's a huge range, the quality is high and the intense competition keeps the prices low.
Not only crowded with foreign visitors but one can see locals way of life.
Picture of an officer talking (questioning?) to a food seller. There are actually more than 15,000 stalls in Chatuchak. Plentiful - you can shop till you drop !
As well as excellent bargains, the markets also offer a slice of local life and a great opportunity to sample the kind of food you won't find in most hotels.
Chatuchak basically is shoppers paradise and a MUST for anyone in Bangkok who has shopping on their agenda. I didn't buy much though. U Shop V Ship offering delivery service.
The best way to get there is on the Skytrain, Mo Chit Station is only about five minutes walk away from the market.
It was like some 8 years ago since I last visited Thailand. Looking forward to Sukhothai and Ayuthaya, hopefully next year.


Primrose said...

I love Bangkok. And all the pics reminded me that I should be making another trip soon. Purely for shopping. :) I've not been to Suan Lum yet. Will make it a point. Ayutthaya is nice.

Anonymous said...

You missed the coup! Would have been quite a sight to see.

Eddie said...

cheh, no picture of ping-pong projectile that you mentioned!

Patrick Leong said...

primrose : but it is abit hot eh. i think it must be fun during the water festival. in april ? march ?

ailing : i am glad that i am back. i am not yet that adventurous. though i heard that the tanks had then become some sort of tourist attraction.

eddie : ping pog show ? you go la next time to take pictures. i am going somewhere else this coming november. more traveling pictures then.

zbjernak said...

my fren once told me about live gold fish pop out from u know where... and still swims after that

now tht is wht i call the Amazing Thailand

Eddie said...

walao zbjernak!
i beleive in you
coz allof us pop out from there too!
censor pls