Chatuchak Weekend Market

So Saturday night I found out about the Chatuchak Weekend Market, which, as you guessed, only happens on weekends.  It is the largest market in Southeast Asia, so of course I couldn’t miss it.  I took the Sky Train there, which was super clean, easy, efficient, and cheap.  They get about 200,000 visitors a day, 30% of which are foreign.  The place was so completely massive, I wandered around for hours and still only had the slightest sense of orientation by the end of it.  There’s a map, but it’s almost entirely useless because it doesn’t give you any sense of scale. The market sells literally everything, as you’ll see below.  The map has sections for “instant food,” “amulets,” “painting,” “animal food,” “creature,” and “cock fighting,” not to mention lots of more normal categories like “artificial flower,” “odds and ends” and “garden equipments.” I’m not quite sure of the difference between fresh food and fruits and vegetables, or between cooked food and instant food, but rice is important enough to get its own category.  After the market I headed back to the hostel to shower and rest for a bit, before heading to the Patpong Night Market and to some street vendors for dinner.

I’m going to try to include prices where I can, so you can get a sense of what things cost.  At the current exchange rate, $1 = 35 baht.  And just so you don’t think I’ve even more of a glutton than I actually am, I’m putting a star * next to the foods I actually ate, so you can tell them apart from the ones I was just eyeing.  🙂

My favorite thing about Thai food is the contrast.  I’ve always loved the mix of salty and sweet (chocolate covered pretzels, apples or bananas with peanut butter, sea salt caramel, etc.) And here, unlike in the US, savory food isn’t just savory, and desserts aren’t just sweet.  They all have a mix of flavors, so that a sweet dessert is topped with salty coconut, or a hot dog is rolled in a sweet crepe, instead of an American hot dog bun.  Pad thai, arguably Thailand’s most popular dish isn’t just noodles and a protein, it’s got a combination of flavors and textures: tangy tamarind paste, tart vinegar, spicy chili, crunchy peanuts, funky fish sauce, and sweet coconut sugar, among other things.  I’m lucky I’ve been walking for miles….

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A random mini shrine on the street on the walk to the train

There are arrows marked on the ground at the Sky Train stops, designating where to stand, so that when the train comes in, the area is clear for people to get off, and explains where the lines of people waiting should enter.

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Very

And miracle of miracles, Thai people actually use them!

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Thai people queueing for the Sky Train

It’s lovely and orderly, which is completely different than subways in the US, or even the Thai streets

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On the Sky Train

Random observation: Thai people don’t wear sunglasses.

Even on the way into the market there were stalls of all kinds, including an incredible looking row of food

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Woman selling spring rolls and papaya salad (som tum) outside the market

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A food stall’s “dining room”

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From this distance the map looks kinda helpful

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But when you look at it in detail, you can see how many tiny dots actually make it up each section

The market was really crowded, and sells literally everything

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Baskets of all shapes and sizes

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Soap of all shapes and sizes, including really lifelike mango soap (3 for 100 baht)

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Celadon pottery. I wanted all of it!

There’s an entire section of “creatures” and they mean it, they have every pet you could think of.  A lot of vendors don’t allow photographs though.

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The puppies were so cute it was painful!

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Baby birds, still molting

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One of a wide range of rodents

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They had every kind of sea life you could imagine

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Bearded lizards

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Choose your own fish

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Or just grab a prefilled bag of them

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Tons of tiny turtles

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They look like sunrises to me

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Hopefully these were meant as food for pets, not people

Not pictured: three million other adorable puppies, dogs big enough to saddle, kittens, snakes, flying squirrels, sugar gliders, mice, rats, and various other unrecognizable rodents…

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There was an entire section of pottery

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Strands of handmade string lights

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Little string critters of all kinds

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*Hot dogs rolled in a sweet crispy crepe.

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“Pomegranite” dessert called that for its appearance

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And the milky stuff that goes with them?

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*Mystery green fruit (unripe guava?) with chili flakes and sugar, one of the only things I’ve gotten that I didn’t enjoy (20 baht)

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*Coconut ice cream, served in the shell with sweet red beans and sticky rice (40 baht)

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Coconut shells and choices of topping

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One of the many food vendors

Turns out those bugs might’ve been people food!

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Millworms and crickets, and cockroaches, oh my!

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Grubs, a protein filled snack!

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More squid on a stick

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A miniature food cart, being sold in the market

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Also near the pet section, a massive store filled with dogs’ clothes

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*Sweet mini crepes filled with marshmallow and salted coconut

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*Coconut ice cream #2 (35 baht)

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Everyone loves donuts

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And potato chips

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*Dinner part 1, wok-cooked omelette with sweet chili sauce over rice (40 baht)

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My pad thai being cooked on a big flat top

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*Shrimp pad thai, the finished product (70 baht)

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