Monday, May 9, 2011

Chatujaked in the Deep End

My mum should have been a professional buyer. Not for her eye in finding unique and wonderful objects and not just because she has innate Asian bargaining ability. But because she has shopping stamina of military pedigree. Forget the shiny, airconditioned malls that permeate Bangkok, if you want to prove your stealth in buying, Chatujak's Weekend Market is your battlefield.

Hungry Female Senior warned me of the conditions we'd be braving. Crowded alleys where you lose all sense of direction, the weird and the wonderful side-by-side and somewhere that you could get just about anything if you looked long and hard enough. Homewares, Thai hilltribe crafts, pet accessories and pets, plants, plastic toys, furniture. From cheap and cheerful to the high-end, over an incredible 27 acres, it ranks amongst the best in the world for market experiences.

And by the way of food, I can't even begin to describe the choices available. Here are just some of the pitstops you could make whilst shopping your heart out.

You'll need a decent cup of ambition to kick-start the day. Thai coffee is from the Arabica bean, and these little stalls know how to extract that dark, sensuous flavour. Compared to Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia, coffee production in Thailand is more recent, and has become a new source of income for many Northern hilltribes. I think however, they've cottoned onto the Aussie trend alot quicker, judging by the excellent flat whites I was served. 

You'll then need slow burning carbs to take you through the morning session. Thai style with lots of chilli heat. This meatball noodle soup was rather star anise-y, with strips of brisket and fresh lettuce. The trail of fire that blazed down my tummy didn't stop me from slurping it all.

Nothing prepares you for the endless pathways of shops and stalls. Once I dived into the maelstrom, there were times I wondered if I'd ever see the light of day again!

Celebrate the first hour of survival with a fresh coconut ice cream. Just staring at one reminded me of shampoo advertisements where washing your hair is akin to plunging into a waterfall. Served in a coconut shell, it was naturally sweet and had a semi-sorbet texture. I enjoyed the little strips of coconut flesh and sago chunks that came with.

I'd never be able to tell you where this bar was in the middle of the madness, but if you do find it, it literally is an oasis of alcohol. Huge arrangements of carnations sit at the bar, and colourful bunting clusters on the ceiling. Hazy memory tells me it was somewhere between Section 16 and 17. There's an impressive selection of booze, and Singha is served with icy bits still sliding off. I remember holding that bottle to my neck as long as I could. Meanwhile, my mother was tsk tsking my weakening endurance.

And after the final haggle, treat yourself to some spring rolls. These pop up all around the market, but I was drawn to this particular one as they offered sweet rolls too. Our savouries consisted of traditional Thai flavours like Tom Yam and Thai Salad, and the sweets were Nutella & Banana, Strawberry & Cream Cheese. All arranged prettily. I love the contrast of delicate against the hustle.

Whether you come away with bagfuls of bargains, or just happy snaps, I can guarantee some great memories. The nearest BTS station is National Stadium, and try to get there for 9:30am on the weekends. Good luck!

Chatujak Weekend Market
Sat/Sun 6:00am - 6:00pm


Chantal said...


James and I were there last Tuesday and Wednesday! Don't tell me you were there as well!!

Hope all is well and you are enjoying the travelling!!!

C and J

Hungry Female said...

Oh! No, this was more than a week ago, I'm behind on posts! Loving it all, and am sure you had a fantastic holiday as well, first long haul with little Faye? Shu xx

Tom said...

So true about it being a battlefield. I should have taken a Camelpak for instant hydration and reinforcements. Hell on earth (due to the midday heat) saved by some awesome food!

Hungry Female said...

Tell me about it, though it's so fascinating you just keep wanting to see more despite the heat. If I was a seller, my stall would be a huge inflatable swimming pool packed with ice cubes!

Cinnamon and Truffle said...

Wow - well done you for surviving that! I don't have much stamina for shopping myself, so I admire those that do.

The spring rolls look delicious. Makes me think I'd love to find good, fresh spring rolls in London now...

Great photos of the market.