Escape to Chiang Mai

Markets are held every Saturday and Sunday all over Thailand. As well as copious amounts of food and drink stalls there are clothes, jewellery, leather goods, soaps and potions for every conceivable illness and photographs of said diseased body parts (not for the squeamish), wooden items, drawings, paintings, musicians playing, the list of what can be purchased or eaten is infinite. There are even places to have a foot massage if you tire of walking. I love the Sunday night walking market in Chiang Mai, but I like to go in early. The police close the roads to traffic at 4pm and the stall holders set up their wares. What I do like about the markets here is their non pushy approach, no hard sell just big smiles even when you say no. By about 7 it becomes very busy, imagine being outside a Wembley cup final 10 minutes before kick off, it’s crazy!! I am well on my way home by this point happy and exhausted full of Thai snacks and purchases.

There are lots of more general everyday markets and the biggest one in CM is called Worrorot Market or Kad Luang. The original market was destroyed by fire in 1968 and subsequently rebuilt into 2 big buildings. It is huge, 3 floors of everything you can imagine. Lots of food and cooking ingredients including live frogs in nets and live fish in bowls as the Thais like everything really fresh. There are clothes, pots and pans, seeds, fishing equipment, toiletries, sweets and cakes with gold sellers/ jewellery stores ringing the outside. Outside the market there are tuk tuks, rickshaws, red buses, motorbikes with side cages for transporting goods and throngs of people milling around. The market is by the Ping river, a big wide river which flows through the city.

Next to Wororot market is the only fresh flower market called Ton Lamyai, a riot of scents and colours. It is open 24 hours a day and most deliveries are done early morning, presumably to all the big posh hotels and homes. You can see lots of Thais and tourists taking pictures of the stunning exotic blooms.

Just across the river by a new pedestrian bridge is a wat called Wat Ket Karam. Within the grounds of the Wat is a really quirky museum called Uncle Jacks History Museum in a restored Lanna teak house which is 500+ years old. It’s aim is to preserve old Lanna culture and has a (dis) organised exhibition of old artefacts. There are fabrics and old gramophones, cooking utensils, furniture, ceramics, farm tools, carved wooden objects, coins and bank notes a real eclectic mix all covered in a generous helping of dust!! The best part for me was the hundreds of old photographs of Chiang Mai. There are some from the early 1900’s which look like the Wild West with people on horseback. I especially like one taken at what became Thae Pae Gate. Its a fantastic glimpse of a bygone era and is run purely on donations.


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