Day 1 – February 1, 2014
Back in the summer, on a whim, I asked my friend Ashley if she wanted to accompany me on a trip to Thailand to play with elephants (more on that later). Miraculously she said YES and after being in transit for 34 hours and arriving in Bangkok late last night we didn’t really have a plan for how we wanted to spend our first day. On the recommendation of a woman at our hostel we ended up at Chatuchak Weekend Market, a massive 35 acre labyrinth with over 15,000 vendors selling everything you can imagine.
We took the BTS Skytrain, an elevated train that offered some neat views of the city and one of the protest sites (no photo, wasn’t quick enough), for about $1.50.
After a transfer and about 45 minutes we arrived at Mo Chit station and followed the crowd towards one of the many entrances to the market. The entrance was lined with food vendors and makeshift cafes set up right on the sidewalk, the air was delicious and my stomach started rumbling even though we had just finished breakfast. We started in the clothing section which sold everything from vintage jeans and plaid shirts to hip manga t-shirts, brand new nikes and baby clothes. Hats, belts, socks, every accessory you could wear on your body was represented.
From here we wandered into the art and home section with beautiful sculptures and massive one of a kind paintings. We could have spent all day here, dreaming about how to get some of these items home and chatting with the different artists.
The market is partially covered and partially open to the elements with a large main path cutting it’s way through the centre, though everything starts to look the same and it’s easy to get turned around.
Deciding it wasn’t quite time for lunch we kept walking with no direction in mind when we started noticing a shift in the wares…everything was alive and moving.
Maggots, crickets, earthworms? We were in the pet section. Any kind of pet was for sale here, and I’m sure the even move exotic (and illegal) pets were available in some of the back rooms we passed. Fish of every kind was neatly sorted into plastic bags and arranged on shelves.
Bins with tiny lobsters and turtles were at your feet and with the intense traffic you had to watch where you stepped!
The aquatic section ended when we heard the heartbreaking chirp of puppies. We rounded a corner and in cages upon cages were the sweetest balls of fur, tumbling over themselves and begging for attention. Then there were kittens, hamsters, bunnies, sugar gliders, squirrels (I think) and baby owls. I kid you not, baby owls. We did our best to keep our heads down and hearts intact but it seemed that every aisle we went down led us back to puppy mill central so with no choice we backtracked through it all.
Finally it was time for lunch and we sat down at the first tiny food stall we came across, Pizza Italian. Yep, our first meal in Thailand was going to be at an “Italian” place. No matter, my fried rice was pretty tasty and Ashley’s pizza, though hardly authentic, did the job.
Feeling deserving after that horrible trip through the pet section we splurged on a 30 minute Thai foot massage for $4.50. The kind man who gently cleaned my feet then proceeded to obliterate my calf muscles in the best possible way with the most delicious smelling peppermint oil.
Exhausted and relaxed we headed back to the Skytrain, passing through the “fast food” area of open grills and things on sticks. Given more time and more money I think I would definitely be leaving Thailand with a few more pounds!
We exited the market and turned towards the Skytrain, except the Skytrain wasn’t there. Nothing was where we thought it was and feeling totally turned around we ended up wandering for about an hour and a half until we found the entrance, completely undoing all the benefits of the massage.