Friday photo: Floating market

Continuing on the floating theme, this Friday, an image from the Damnoen Saduak floating market outside Bangkok.

The floating market is filled with hundreds of sellers and buyers of local produce including fruit, vegetables and flowers. There are also vendors who make fresh food, right from their boats and several locals on both sides of the canal hawking local handicraft. The best time to experience this market is early in the mornings, when the crowds are lesser and the vendors less antsy.

floatingmarket

More photographs from the market on my flickr set – floating into focus
Also see: Friday photo series

Saturday at Chatuchak

I am not very fond of shopping, even in a place like Bangkok. Or perhaps, particularly in a place like Bangkok – all the malls seem the same after a while – all glass and steel and selling characterless branded (whether genuine or spurious) clothes and electronics.

It was on my second trip to Bangkok that I discovered the Chatuchak weekend market, thanks to a friend who lives there. Chatuchak is popular among both tourists and locals and prices are very reasonable, with bargaining not just acceptable but actually expected from buyers.

Chatuchak (pronounced Jatujak) is the largest market in Thailand, and for a nation known for it shopping, that is saying a lot. I am told that the market has over 15000 stalls – divided into sections – and if you are the ‘shopping types’ that means you could spend the entire day there and not have covered all of it. I spent a few hours on a Saturday morning and was exhausted at the end of the first thirty minutes.

Saying cheeeeeese

Like all self-respecting markets, there are street performers all along the lanes of Chatuchak – from a group of children in school uniform playing classical Western music to lone musicians on traditional instruments, this market has it all…

Not to mention the other kinds of street artists – jugglers, magicians, painters…

Tricks of the trade

Bored of posing

The fine art of shoe painting

Chatuchak is a great place to buy local, Thai handicraft and souvenirs. Tourists are however advised to be cautious before buying expensive antiques; some of them are brand-new antiques, made specially for this market!

The Buddha of suburbia

This is one of my favourite cluster of shops – selling wooden toys and musical instruments – I picked up a lampshade shaped like a small elephant and several pretty candle holders in dark wood.

If music be the food of love...

Thankfully, there is plenty to eat and drink in the market – again, try the local fare – I was there in summer and had sticky rice with mango every chance I got, washing it down with coconut water or these cooling agents…

Cool off!

This is what these little dots of colour are… and this is how I want to be when I grow old (not all grey and wrinkled but young-at-heart and enjoying the simple pleasures of life)…

Never too old

Tip : Take a sky-train or metro to the nearest station, grab a couple of bottles of water and a map of the market and find the zone that has the stalls that are of interest to you – that way, you get to spend time and energy where you really want to, avoiding the other zones (says, pets and live animals, for instance!).

Massage and marriage in Bangkok

…neither of them mine. hah! gotcha.

If you have heard great things about those Thai massages and are dreaming of pretty young things softly caressing your skin with fragrant oils, here is something to make you pause and reflect. Sure you can choose to walk into a dimly lit massage parlour and live out that fantasy but chances are you will end up with some such rough-kick-boxing-meets-sadistic-massage routine and then where are you?

I tried a “relaxing” shoulder and neck massage (right, that is how optimistic I was, given the sorry state that my neck and upper back have been for years now) – I sat for maybe one and a half minutes before the ouch! OUCH! OUCH! OUCH! finally got through to the masseuse (I think I had fainted in pain by then) and she stopped, giving me just enough time to make a run for it. And this was after several minutes of detailed instructions and requests for a “soft massage” – absolutely no pressure please, see the surgery scar here? and so on.

After all this, I still went ahead and took a foot massage when mall-hopping got too tiring. And I am happy to report total bliss, everything I had hoped for (pretty young things excluded, of course). An hour of feet pampering and I was ready to hit the shopping scene again.

And on the road, this. I have no idea what this means though. And all within twenty minutes!

Match made in the heavens?