Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Jatujak (‘Chatuchak’) Weekend Market - Bangkok

Before visiting Thailand, I (or actually my better half) was forewarned about Bangkok being a shopper’s delight! Well….how misinformed I was!

The Jatujak (as pronounced in Thai) weekend market, transforms you into a shopaholic, eliciting the ‘shop-till-you-drop’ gene from your DNA, it manipulates you to showcase your bargaining skills…and leaves you desiring an extra pair of eyes that lend a 360 degree view of all its sounds, sights, smells and surroundings. This market was not just a shopper’s delight, it was the mother of all markets… It was the epitome of commerce, the ultimate personification of all things desirable, and the embodiment of the impulsive shopper in all of us!
A cornucopia of ‘you-name-it’ anything and everything under the sun!

Having said that, I hope I have prepared you to expect arrays of stalls, narrow by-lanes filled with artifacts, infinite maze of sois, one could so easily get lost amidst. In the midst of this complicated labyrinth, you will find continuous stalls selling clothing, shoes, art work, flowers – both fresh and artificial, fishes for your aquarium, fishes for the frying pan, cafes, restaurants, paintings, fabric to decorate, food to eat, souvenirs, trinkets, toys, Buddhas, jewelry, books, fake designer wear, not-so-fake-looking designer wear, watches in all sizes, colors and content, more Buddhas …the list goes on and on…all for the fraction of the price you would pay back home.

Hansel and Gretel couldn't find their way out of here even if they tried!!
How did we survive – you ask? We kinda stuck to the perimeter…and never ventured too much into the interior…there is a whole different world…that we didn’t even get to sniffing distance. Give yourselves plenty of time to cover this expansive market (think largest flea market, then multiply it times 100!!!)
Jatujak Market can be reached in a variety of ways, but arriving by Skytrain is by far the most convenient (except when its time to haul all those shopping baggies back, call for a taxi in those cases). Simply get off at the Mo Chit station, a terminus on the Sukhumvit line, and follow the crowd to the market. The Market is open every Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM. 
With more than 15,000 stalls situated on 35 acres of land and approximately 200,000 visitors a day, calling this market enormous is probably an understatement; it also makes it one of the biggest, most crowded outdoor markets in the world. So, if crowds, hot/humid weather, lots of walking are not your thing, then this isn’t for YOU. However, if you do decide to venture into this extraordinary market, dress appropriately (light clothing, good walking shoes) and keep the liquid intake going. There are delectable eats and refreshing drinks to be tried…the chilled lemon tea was excellent.
I guarantee you will not return from this place empty handed(no guarantees on an empty wallet though!!).
Happy bargaining!!

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