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Sunday, March 30, 2008


Chatuchak market

A few years back on one of my early visits to Thailand I visited Chatuchak Market in Bangkok for the first time. It was an amazing rabbit warren filled with stalls selling just about anything you can think of. And there were some real bargains to be had. Since then it's been rebuilt. It's still a rabbit warren. You can still buy just about anything. But bargains? Perhaps you'd be better off in a shopping mall. At least it's air conditioned.

On my previous visit to JJs as it is sometimes called. I went looking for something in particular. I got what I wanted, eventually. And ended up paying far too much. But after searching in the heat for several hours I had reached a point where I just wanted to get the goods and get out of there.

One of my friends called me yesterday morning and asked if I'd like to go to Chatuchak with her that afternoon. It sounded like a good idea at the time so I said OK. There were one or two things I needed but was not committed to buying. Other than that I was prepared to just enjoy being there and having my friend's company. Besides, markets are among my favourite places for candid photography. Finding interesting subjects and clicking without being noticed can keep me amused for hours.
My friend wanted to buy some of these beautiful pieces of crockery. When you consider the fine detail in them and that they are each hand painted, they are still a bargain. I became aware of them on another of my early visits to Bangkok. One was given to me as a speaker's gift at a conference at which I was presenting. My friend bought quite a few pieces and as cheap as it seems for one, after I converted it to dollars, the total was quite high.

We wandered around some more. She bought some more things. My sense of fair price has been influenced by my time in Cambodia so I bought nothing. But I got a few interesting shots. Keep an eye on my flickr pages over the next week or so.

If you're visiting Thailand looking for Thai arts and crafts you can get much better prices in the country villages where the stuff is created. But that takes time (enjoyably so) and it would help if you knew a few of the locals.

We had left my friend's goods at the crockery stall and chatted with the people there when we went to pick them up. She mentioned to them that I was learning Thai. 'Oh, if you speak Thai when you buy from us, we give you a better price,' the proprietor said. So, there's a tip for you. Learn to speak Thai before you go shopping at Chatuchak.

BTW, Chatuchak is sometimes spelled Jatujak (and perhaps a few other ways). It's the same place.

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