• Day76

    Jamie in Hell - Markets and Shopping

    November 27, 2016 in Thailand ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C

    Today was a shopping day. I was not looking forward to the day much, because I was not going to buy anything. Courtney was very excited by the opportunity to go to the Chatuchak Market. Depending on how much time we had left afterwards, we would also try to head to the middle of Bangkok to peruse the shopping streets there.

    Given our experiences with traffic in Bangkok, we took the easy option of the BRT to get to the market. This is an elevated light rail system throughout some of Bangkok, that connects some of the bustier spots in town. It does however, completely miss a lot of the most touristy spots. Anyway, the BRT system is clean, tidy, cheap, and provides a great view of the world, as you ride about 20m above the rest of Bangkok. It took about 45 mins at most, to get from our hotel, to the market itself.

    Once there, we launched ourselves straight into the depths of the market itself. We had the option of perusing the stalls on the outside of each building, but we felt that the best deals, and most authentic experience would be obtained by walking through the middle of each building. This was certainly the case, as there were far more locals in the middle of the buildings, than on the outside, where most people were tourists. The Chatuchak Market is quite good, because of the fact that there are still locals that go shopping there, but you can be sure the first price you are quoted as a foreigner is well above any price that a local will pay. Expect the starting point to be anywhere from 5-10 times the price at which you street vendor will actually sell to you quite happily. You just have to be willing to invest the time to bring the price down through actual haggling, and walking away. Walking away never fails to bring the price down by half, even if while standing there the price quoted is already the rock bottom, best price.

    After three hours of 'shopping', which was mostly pursuing of random shops, with random things, that I didn't want to carry through the remainder of the trip, we stopped to get some fruit shakes to help get us through the hottest part of the day. At this point, I was starting to struggle in the heat, and had already consumed the large volume of liquids that I brought along, to stave off any deterioration of health, back towards heatstroke.

    Refuelling complete, we went back to the shopping, and after five hours, decided that now was the time to make a move. The heat of the day, had now taken a pretty heavy toll on my weakened body, and it was time to head to somewhere cooler. Between the start of my bout of heatstroke, and this point, I had managed to lose 5kgs, none of which was liquid, which I had made sure to replace by consuming more liquids than I needed to.

    For some cool air, and a chance for me to take a breather, as well as Courtney, who also wasn't feeling 100%, we headed to one of the downtown shopping malls, again via the BTS. Once there, we grabbed some food to share, and then went for a wander through the mall. Along the way, we passed a Louis Vuitton store, which at that moment, was occupied by some famous Thai people. They were no one to us, but to the Thais in the mall, they were very important. There was just a wall of people around the store, about 15-20 people deep, just hoping to get a glimpse of a man and a woman.

    Wandering through the mall, it quickly became apparent, that we were not going to b able to buy much there. The Louis Vuitton shop was a bit of a giveaway, because next was Prada, then a Ferrari showroom, then Jimmy Choo, then a Porsche showroom, and so on.

    We decided to head to the street, to see what we could find that was slightly more in our price range, though at this point, I must stress, that we were not actually looking to buy anything. After another half an hour, and another mall, we decided it was time to head back to the hotel.

    Shopping malls anywhere in the world are pretty similar, and Bangkok is no exception. This wonder of globalisation is pretty much identical the world over, and as such, we were over it.

    Taking the BTS back to the hotel, there was time to cool down again in the room, before we headed out for dinner. As we were after something a bit different for dinner, having had Thai food consistently for such a long time, we decided on a local Lebanese place. This was a severe mistake.

    The only good thing that we ate was the moutabal. The rest was some atrocious attempt at Lebanese food that would put mortify any actual Lebanese person. The pita bread, was not pita bread, it was a chapati. The shawarma was made with pan fried meat, chopped lettuce drowning in salad cream, and soggy chips. This was as far from authentic as you could get, and it was expensive too.

    For some reason, the rest of the plebs in the restaurant, thought it was great. I can only hazard that they have never had proper food of any kind, never mind Lebanese food, once in their lives. This was a thoroughly disappointing way to end or night, so we stopped at a corner shop on the way back to the hotel, to grab an ice cream to enjoy on the short walk back.

    This helped, but not nearly enough.
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