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Eat and shop till you drop in Bangkok

rain 31 °C

Bangkok is a shopper's dream, or a nightmare depending on which way you look at it. There are huge, shiny, modern air-coned malls and buzzing street markets if you are up for the hustling and bargaining. There is also the in-between, a mall where you can bargain! Most things are in fact up for bargaining in Bangkok. This is fun, and Naim loves to barter over prices, whereas I love to get a bargain, but if you have to haggle for every little thing, if kind of turns me off after a while. But bargaining you must do in Bangkok unless you are buying the real brand name stuff in a shop. The biggest centres are MBK, Emporium, Siam Paragon, CentralWorld. We spent a bit of time cooling off or staying dry (when it rained, it poured) at the MBK Centre, one of places where you can negotiate on price. It has eight floors and over 2,000 shops. We scored some fake watches, although we won't tell you which brands, as you must try to see if you can tell for yourself the next time we see you! Fakes are everywhere, and there is nothing wrong with selling them, everyone sells them and everyone buys them. Your taxi driver is wearing Dior glasses and the kid at the coffee shop is bopping his head along to music on his knock-off Dr. Dre Beats headphones. You can buy fake jewelry, handbags, brand name clothing, sunglasses, trainers, music, phones, etc. They have the latest and greatest knock-offs for every new Apple product, video camera, stuff I didn't even know was out on the market yet. Everyone loves buying fakes because if they break, you have an inexpensive excuse to buy the newest copy of another product. Naim was a total geek and probably earned himself a second PhD in fake watches. He would come home and research fake watches because he wanted to be sure he paid the best price and got the top-of-the-line AAA++ copy. He got tutorials from the sellers, experimented with pricing on a few others, and then gave me a dissertation on what he learned. All that work and it is not even the real thing!

Despite buying stuff, shopping centres are actually excellent places to eat and try loads of different foods. Many Thai people eat in the food courts and the quality of food is actually very good (and cheap). We would walk along the rows looking at all the options and always choose a few different things to try. The only silly part is you have to decide everything you want from all the vendors first, then go to the ticket counter and purchase tickets to pay for your food, as the vendors don't deal with money. Kind of annoying if at the last minute you change your mind or want that extra dumpling at the last minute! :)

Some dumplings, mmm.
Look like candy, but made from beans!
Dessert counter for Nam Kang Sai, a combo of jellies, fruits with chunks of ice and sweet syrup. I enjoyed mine with coconut milk, water chestnuts and sweet corn, too! And that spiky thing is durian fruit.
Sipping a thai iced coffee outside Siam shopping area
Where's Waldo? (Zavian this time)

There are many floating markets throughout Thailand, and they are a lovely way to see the old style and traditional way of selling goods over the water. It is one of those things that you can't find in many places, so really unique and interesting, but nowadays it is more of a "show" for tourists, and not many real transactions take place between the locals. There are 2 main floating markets near Bangkok (about 100 kms away). We decided to go to Amphawa Floating Market. Unlike the famous one at Damnoen Saduak, this one doesn’t start to get going until the late afternoon (good news for us late risers). From what the locals and our hotel told us, Damnoen Saduak market is more touristy, but a great photo opportunity. However, Amphawa's atmosphere is much better. It is also more authentic as you won’t find the rows and rows of stalls selling the same tacky souvenirs. The best thing about Amphawa Floating Market is that it is still relatively unknown among Western tourists as isn’t featured in many travel guides yet.

We organised a taxi to take us from our hotel and wait for us there and bring us home. It was about 2500 bhat (about 50 GBP, and kind of expensive we thought!) The concierge promised a nice, comfortable taxi and English-speaking driver. As soon as we set off, it began to rain crazy monsoon rain. We didn't worry too much, since it would take at least an hour to get there and although it is monsoon season, it never seemed to rain in Bangkok more than an hour at a time. It rained the entire journey, to the point where the driver stopped the car and we debated whether we should just return as we couldn't walk around when it was raining sideways with Zavian. The driver, who actually spoke very little English and kept calling Zavian "my baby," like he was his baby, tried to offer to return and pick us up the next morning to take us to the other market for the huge discount of 2000 bhat (on top of today's payment- yeah right!). He was very concerned about "my baby," but we decided to take our chances. We were lucky and it stopped just as we approached the market. Yippee!

We enjoyed exploring the market, eating amazing, scallops and clams cooked out of a boat next to us along the canal, sampling loads of local delights... Unfortunately, Zavian was super cranky, so the atmosphere by the canal was not so chilled out. That's travelling with baby sometimes, I suppose. So we opted to pass on the boat ride to see the firefly's as it could possibly ruin everyone else's trip. :)

On the way in our taxi (raining outside) and the driver popped in some Celine Dion for our listening pleasure!
Enjoying some rice coconut covered sweet

For our last market adventure, we went to was Chatuchak Weekend Market. It is one of the world's largest weekend markets and covers 27 acres divided into 27 Sections, and containing more than 15,000 booths selling goods from every part of Thailand. It attracts 200,000 people each day on the weekend. It was immense. Of course it poured that afternoon too (perhaps the retail gods were telling us to stop shopping), but it was our only chance to see it. You can find absolutely everything/anything you want here from antique wood carvings, handicrafts, plants, food, clothing, animals, anything! Here is a short clip to give you a taste!

It was hectic, but fun. There was no way we could get a cab back to the hotel in that crowd, so we hopped the SkyTrain back, met a couple Americans (from Salem, MA in fact!) and shared some of our Bangkok stories.

Posted by jknazef 09:21 Archived in Thailand Tagged market bangkok floating chatuchak mbk Comments (0)

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