Monday, February 24, 2014

Bangkok Travelogue: Local scenes at Chatuchak Market

Another interesting place worth to explore in Bangkok is none other than the famous weekend market; Chatuchak Market (also known as Jatujak and commonly referred to as J.J).
It is definitely the largest weekend market in Thailand and in the world as well.
There is just so much to see and do at Chatuchak; that your time will not be wasted at all here.

Operating only on weekends, the market boasts of more than 10,000 stalls (estimated to be around 15,000 and more) comprising of enthusiastic traders selling clothing, food, handicrafts, souvenirs, artwork, household items, and even pets. The list goes on, and it may seem like there is no end to the streets in the market which is not surprising as the market was designed in a circular-like shape to accommodate the thousands of stalls.

The market is made up of many 'sois' (streets) tucked inside the maze-like inner section (covered) and  these can be narrow alleys packed with the stalls and eager sellers waving their hands and beckoning to you in their sweet singsong Thai accents to woo potential buyers and tourists to their stalls.

The market starts from as early as 8.00am, and it is advisable to be there as early as possible as the crowds just build up to a massive population later in the day. It is estimated that there are as many as 20,000 tourists a day (or perhaps more?)
As this is a huge market with the some of the stalls in the open, and also with the narrow and stuffed alleys in the closed area, walking around the market can be a rather daunting task especially on hot and humid days, or even if it is raining. The best weather would be slightly cool with cloudy skies; which can be rare in Bangkok, which is famous for its all year-round sunny days.
I was fortunate enough to be able to experience that rare cool and cloudy weather, with only a tiny bit of the sun peeking out from behind the clouds sporadically, which made my experience in this world-famous market a rather relaxing and enjoyable one.

Many may have the perception that Chatuchak Market is streets and streets of shopping and is definitely the heaven for shopaholics and shopping lovers; and that the place can be skipped if one is not interested in buying anything at all.
That is a wrong perception to have; as the local market is where most of the local scenes are in action and where you can truly see the other side of Bangkok which you might not have experienced before.
True, Bangkok is already hailed as one of the shopping paradises in Asia; with its mega shopping malls and many little boutiques, offering prices to satisfy all ages and incomes, but the beauty of the metropolis is not only in the sprawling streets lined with stalls but also the unique and beautiful culture seen through the daily lifestyle of the local Thais themselves.
While Chatuchak may be a place packed with traders, it is also at the very heart of the art of trading where Bangkok started its humble beginnings.
Many of the locals are still into the practice of buying food and stuffs from the streets, and the varieties are just endless.

The most interesting part to me about Chatuchak, was not the great bargains they are offering (but yes, they are certainly rather attractive!), but the colorful scenes which are unfolding every minute, and at every corner of the market everywhere I went.
There were just endless lists of things to see and do; and even shop and eat, and I would recommend at least half of the day just checking out this famous market.

Just snapshots of the scenes at Chatuchak:

A man pushing his cart through the oncoming cars to sell fruits

A man selling fruits

Fascinating Ice lollies! (Iced popsicles)

Yes, even little puppies are on sale - poor little pups :(

There is also a section where they are selling 2nd hand books, this, is definitely my weakness!
I just love the scent of books; and nothing beats old and vintage books!

Besides products, there are also services such as massage available; perhaps for the avid shoppers who may need to nurse their poor tired soles? Or perhaps for their companions who are just dragging their feet into each stall despite their disinterest; while the shoppers are just getting more and more enthusiastic?

I spent about 4 hours plus at this market, and though I was fascinated with the scenes, I have to admit that they do have some pretty good stuffs on sale, and at great prices too.
One thing I like about Bangkok is the easy availability of the food and refreshing drinks everywhere we went, and that was indeed a great advantage for tourists who spend the entire day outside and probably relying on water bottles, and 7-11 stores to replenish our water supply.
The varieties are endless, and the prices are reasonable too, making me a happy camper, I mean traveler in this busy city.

Chatuchak market is also filled with food and drinks stalls; and as you can see in the above photo; there are always fruits stalls available everywhere.
I will be covering in my next post on the food and drinks in Chatuchak.....

To be continued....

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