How Market Shopping in Bangkok Made My Life

Now, I’m not exactly much of a shopaholic. Back in Canada, I’d actually gotten quite good at avoiding this activity, especially considering I basically go to school in one of the biggest malls in Toronto, the Eaton Centre. Not like I have anything against consumerism (as a business student, I don’t think that’s even allowed), I just don’t like buying things I don’t need. I’ve always had a soft spot for markets, vintage shopping, garage sales, basically anything with a crazy amount of random selection where prices are up for negotiation. In these places, you’re not scurrying around like a mall rat, you’re a treasure hunter, searching for your equivalent of a chest of gold buried under shelves and racks of comparative trash. When you find your prize, it’s a full-blown accomplishment!

One Piece is really popular in Singapore, so I felt like part of the show (though I've never seen it)

One Piece is really popular in Singapore, so I felt like part of the show (though I’ve never seen it)

For me, this basically made Bangkok Treasure Island. Entire streets are lined with stalls selling items that are “same same but different”, which is a popular Thai saying used to describe knock-offs. It’s such a famous phrase; they sell shirts that say it (not like that means a lot, they also sell used batteries)!

Also, an entire street dedicated to lottery tickets!

Also, an entire street dedicated to lottery tickets!

My first treasure chest was a pair of Thai fishing pants. I’d first seen the puffy mid-length pants years ago in a shop in Toronto, but resisted the temptation to buy them, telling myself “oh, I’ll just get a pair when I’m in Thailand, it’ll be so much more authentic”. Now, this was a really unreasonable excuse as I had absolutely no plans to go anywhere near Thailand at that point, but that was all I needed to back out of the sale (there’s a reason I’m not usually a shopaholic). However, now that I was actually in Thailand, my excuse was now void, and I decided it would be worthwhile to get the pants.

In western malls, I can easily see that my shopping indecisiveness tends to irritate sales people; I’ll spend an hour in a store and walk out with nothing. In Thai markets, I use this to my advantage like there’s no tomorrow. I waffled over which pants to buy like I was at a breakfast buffet and even changed my mind and began walking away from a store once the vendor had began bagging the pants (just before I paid). He ended up yelling after me and flicking me with an elastic band as I walked down the street to get me to come back and knocked the price down again, which I eventually agreed to. I had officially found my first piece of treasure!

For my first find, the treasure-pants were a pretty good score! Since they were a longer length, they make for acceptable temple-garb (many don’t allow you to enter if your knees are exposed) AND since they’re flow-y and made of a ridiculously light material, it also means that I don’t sweat myself into a puddle! PLUS they’re perfectly comfortable for long plane/bus rides when you’re back and forth between freezing AC and sweltering humidity. Basically, the perfect piece of clothing for travel since it works in virtually every scenario. I will now be referring to them as the Jack Sparrow’s compass of market purchases, because they me anywhere I want to go (and because Jack Sparrow is awesome, but that should be a given).

compass chalkboard

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2 thoughts on “How Market Shopping in Bangkok Made My Life

  1. This reminds me of a very poorly planned day spent garage sale-ing, when I got lost in the rain with a whiteboard. Was that with you? If so, looks like your treasure hunting skills have sharpened since then =P

    • Yupp, that was definitely with me!! If I recall correctly, we also left with some pretty sweet nail polish AND you were able to use the whiteboard as an umbrella, so it wasn’t a total fail :P

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