Therese Trips: Bangkok, January 2010

Jan 29th, 2010, 06:39 AM
  #41  
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Day 4: To Market, to Market...

As I'm not going to be in town for the big Chatuchak weekend market, I decide that I'd like to spend some time today visiting another one. Having not been previously, of course, I'm at the mercy of other people's opinions and guide books and so forth, and I decide on Banglamphu, in no small part because I can easily get there via the river, getting off at Pra Athit.

So breakfast, and a stroll to the boat. The young woman collecting money for tickets recognizes me and makes a point of saying hello, and is extra happy when I've got exact change.

Nice trip up the river and upon disembarking and walking in the general direction of the market I find myself noticing that there are quite a few westerners in this area, and that they are largely young and largely encumbered with more luggage than I'd consider taking on an expedition to the moon, and eventually I realize that Khao San is nearby. The more time I spend in this area the more I find myself relieved to not be staying in this area.

It's particularly muggy today, and after some market meandering I purchase the only thing that appeals to me, some white cotton blouses. I ask the saleswoman what size she'd recommend for me, and she settles on a 42, which seems large to me (I wear a U.S. 6) but perhaps they're prone to shrinking. As it turns out the 42 is too large for me, but the cut of the blouses is such that it makes very little difference and the ample cut means that they'll be cooler. My one attempt at bargaining is met with failure, but since they are already very inexpensive (199 baht each) I see no reason to insist and head off with six new shirts. Hmmm, where am I going to put them for the trip home? Guess I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

My next stop is a very pleasant waterfront public park, Santichai Prakan. I buy a young coconut from a vendor and hang out (in the shade of course) for quite a while before finally taking my very lazy self back to the boat for a nice ride down the river.
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Jan 29th, 2010, 08:15 AM
  #42  
 
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Therese
I am really enjoying your writing style, i feel i am taking a very laid back tour of Bangkok!! As i too will have a few days solo in BKK in a few weeks its giving me inspiration.... (although i will be in town for Chatuchak and as i LOVE it there i will be making a trip out there.)
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Jan 29th, 2010, 08:47 AM
  #43  
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Thanks, Smeagol. My time in Bangkok was the last five days of a 23 day trip, so I certainly wasn't feeling any pressure to see and do everything, particularly as I'm planning on going back some day soon.
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Jan 29th, 2010, 09:08 AM
  #44  
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Day 4: Cotton House. Again.

My appointment at Cotton House is earlier in the afternoon this time.

In keeping with my marketing theme to the day I wander the back streets between Centre Point and Cotton House with an eye to clothing and accessory vendors, and come across some T-shirts that look pretty nice. I've got two teenage children and both of them find T-shirts to be perfectly acceptable gifts, but I do like to find something that suits their personalities. In this instance I found Tin Tin-themed shirts for my son (who has liked Tin Tin since he was quite young), each one with nice quality images of Tin Tin book covers or story boards, in nice heavy cotton. I also got a "Drink Coca Cola" T-shirt in Thai---even though he doesn't drink soft drinks we live in Atlanta, so Coke is a big deal here.

Cotton House is once a again a beehive of activity, and at this point I'm starting to lose track of which customers I've met on which days. There's the French couple (new clients) with the impossibly thin wife who is quite taken with the quality of the tailoring and finishing, there's the repeat customer woman (of uncertain provenance---western, with a vaguely colonial accent but I can't tell which one and she's also got some conversational Thai) who is having a dress (initially made at Cotton House) altered and picking up another garment, there's the family of four who are variously from Germany, Argentina, and Los Angeles who are having party dresses made for the daughter and wife (and the son turns out to have a friend who goes to school with my son). It's all very convivial and just different enough to be entertaining.

Finally it's time to try on my dresses and this time the bodice just isn't working at all: there's a wrap detail in the front such that the two pieces independently insert into a band of fabric that comprises the empire waist and it's just not working. Radical steps are called for, and two junior types are set to ripping out the seams, completely disassembling the front of the dress. When it finally comes time to re-fit the garments, a dressmaker is called from the workshop around the corner so as to make sure that we get it right this time. We also keep cinching in the skirt portion of the dresses so that they fit even better.

Off I go into the late afternoon, the evening beckoning.
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Jan 29th, 2010, 09:10 AM
  #45  
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Oh, meant to mention that I didn't bargain with the T-shirt vendor, as she beat me to it, telling me the original price and the giving me a discount and then giving me another discount when I bought four shirts. And of course I'd have paid the original price without a murmur, so that was fine.
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Jan 29th, 2010, 11:38 AM
  #46  
 
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Therese you mention going back to Bangkok sometime soon. Any schedule yet? I'll be there approx April 20 to May 3.
Carol
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Jan 29th, 2010, 11:47 AM
  #47  
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Day 4: The Night Market at Suan Lum

I gather there's some controversy about this market, as the people who run the market are reportedly not paying rent to the people who own the land, and so the people who own the land are in the process of evicting the people who run the market. I was blissfully unaware of any of this kerfuffle when I made the decision to spend my evening at the market, and given that the people who own the land apparently intend to erect yet another large commercial center there, complete with a glossy upmarket shopping mall, I have to admit to being a bit conflicted: how badly does Bangkok need another of these enterprises?

The trip to Suan Lum from Centre Point Silom involves a brief trip on the SkyTrain, followed by a brief trip on the subway, all of it easy and clean and efficient.

As I exited the subway the first thing I saw was what looked to be a reasonably pleasant outdoor restaurant that featured live music. I was planning on visiting the beer garden, though, and this didn't appear to be the beer garden, so I forged on, intent on some more shopping before I finished up my evening.

It was still fairly early, and although the stalls on the periphery of the market (none of which had anything that I was even remotely interested in purchasing) were fairly busy, the interior wasn't, so I roamed at will, finally stopping at a T-shirt display that looked interesting: designs I hadn't seen elsewhere, interesting graphics dealing with political and social commentary. I ended up by two shirts for my daughter and one for my son. The guy who waited on me is apparently the designer. Rocky T-shirts is the name on the label.

Around the corner I found some nice silk scarves (again, discount offered, and then discounted again for multiple purchase) and that was it for my shopping.

I finally found the beer garden, but it was closed, reportedly for repairs. So I headed back to the first restaurant I'd seen. It was about half full when I arrived, but filled up quickly. Very pleasant surroundings: huge trees overhead, limbs swaying a bit in the night breeze, live duo singing "Yesterday Once More" (by The Carpenters---under no circumstances should you try and figure out which song this is, as the minute that you do your entire brain will be consumed by the mawkish tune and lyrics), cheap cocktails (I'm pretty sure that I tried a Singapore Sling here, though not surprisingly the details are a bit fuzzy), bar food...it doesn't get much better. Additional entertainment courtesy of the Dr. Fish spa across the aisle.

[an aside to mention that I've done Dr. Fish, in Japan, and it's pretty weird]

I rather liked the Suan Lum night market.
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Jan 29th, 2010, 11:50 AM
  #48  
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Not nearly that soon, Carol---I've got this irritating thing called a job (which I'm clearly not performing at this precise moment) and January's trip burned up 75% of my year's holiday. So I'll be waiting until I've got another nice long stretch of holiday to burn before I return to Asia. Next January possibly, as it's convenient professionally and nice weather-wise.
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Jan 29th, 2010, 12:19 PM
  #49  
 
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Mawkish and kerfuffle is the same post. How great is that? Keep it coming?
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Jan 29th, 2010, 12:25 PM
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Great report!
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Jan 29th, 2010, 06:28 PM
  #51  
 
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the night market was to have closed about 2 years ago now, but has been stalled because of the recession and other things...
i think it is the vendors that are not paying their rent??
many vendors have left but many remain too...

if i am not mistaken, i think the land is owned by the royal family
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Jan 29th, 2010, 07:23 PM
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The land does indeed belong to the Crown Property and they normally lease out the land(30 years lease?). The new leasee want to develop the land there but the eviction process is taking a long time.

I'm sure tourists like Therese just want to see beer gardens and trinket shops but development does happen.
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Jan 30th, 2010, 12:17 AM
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very enjoyable report...thanks for sharing
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Jan 30th, 2010, 03:34 AM
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Therese, I hope we do manage to meet up in BKK sometime. I would enjoy that. We seem to have the same thoughts about shopping! I, too, love all the markets.

I've not been to Suanlum Night Bazaar for several years now. I've been past it, when going out to Tawandang, so I know it is still functioning. It used to be lots of fun. I bought a number of plastis purses there, with real leaves laminated into the plastic. Cute bags! But after I started buying them, the price went up. They got too expensive, even when I bought in quantity! Anyway, I enjoyed Suanlum.

We have a very slight warming trend for the next week. I'll take anything that means the temp is rising, and not falling!

Carol
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Jan 31st, 2010, 06:01 AM
  #55  
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Tourist like Therese will take advantage of beer gardens and trinket shops wherever they appear. It's up to the big stakeholders to decide when and where they occur, and I'm certainly not one of the stakeholders in this instance.

Development does happen, and hopefully Bangkok will not fall victim to the sort of development that gutted the downtown of Atlanta (where I live) several decades ago. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but it's turned out to be a fiasco.
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Jan 31st, 2010, 06:04 AM
  #56  
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Thanks for all the nice comments. I've got a couple more days to describe, and hope to finish up this weekend before moving starting my Japan thread (which was the start of this trip, and where I was a much, much better tourist).

Carol, I'll be sure to let you know in advance if I manage to make it back to Bangkok in the next couple of years.
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Jan 31st, 2010, 06:07 AM
  #57  
 
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I totally agree. Personally I prefer Macon to Atlanta.
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Jan 31st, 2010, 08:25 AM
  #58  
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Except that Atlanta's got much, much better food (except for the gutted downtown area, where you are lucky to survive a meal, much less enjoy it). And the airport, the airport really is a wonderful thing (from the frequent flyer's perspective, of course).
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Jan 31st, 2010, 09:01 AM
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Thank you for your report~ I am headed to BKK in March.
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Jan 31st, 2010, 09:21 AM
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Therese~Is this where you stayed? I will make arrangements after your kind reply.
Thank you.
http://www.centrepoint.com/Property....Nci/0tw1+kBtg=
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