Even before we started from home, Chhavi and I were bargaining hard with each-other. She wanted her hair braided right at the gate. I told her that she had to let me take pictures, including hers! The deals in place we headed to the metro station to go to Dilli Haat. It was the mother daughter day out!
True to her word, she got a single braid right at the entrance. She wanted henna on her hands too, but I cajoled her to let it go till the end, or else she would not enjoy roaming around.
Her next demand was for a chuski, which I agreed to. While she was eating her chuski and dropping half of it on her dress, I went and got a mango kulfi for myself. In the end she did not finish her chuski.
Chhavi likes to touch everything that is on display. And I have to keep running after her, to make sure she doesn’t break anything. But the shopkeepers were extremely patient with her. Not even a single one said anything to her for touching their stuff!
We bought two rings for Chhavi from this shop. While going back I stood by to click another picture of this display which I liked a lot. I was yelled at for clicking a picture now that I was not buying anything. It took me a bit by surprise as almost every second peron in Dilli Haat walks around with a DSLR! I am good at giving back, but that is not why I go out of the home, to pick up petty fights. Anyway this was just one stray incident in an otherwise wonderful day.
I quite like taking a stroll at Dilli Haat for such colorful pictures. I told Chhavi she could buy three things though eventually the limit was revised to 5! She bought a head band from this shop!
After a while I insisted on food whereas Chhavi would not go anywhere near it. We found Modak at the Maharashtra Food Stall. In my foolishness I ordered two. It was a struggle to finish it off as the kid would just not eat her share! I tell her that there is a limit on things she can but but not on what she can eat. She wants it to be the other way round.
By the time we reached the Maharashtra Stall she wanted her braid to be opened at any cost! The knot was tight and I could not open it. First, she wanted a braid and then she could not bear it! The joys of going out with a child! I told her we will ask the same lady to take it out. That gave me some breather to finish my tea in relative peace!
Chhavi often urges me to buy one of these for myself. I never wear them, so I am content to click pictures. She bought a huge pink necklace from outside for herself.
A blue colored flower crown was our last purchase. After that we went to the same braid lady and asked her to take it off. She was quite sympathetic to Chhavi asking her if it was too tight?
After two visits to Chandni Chowk, I have realized that Dilli Haat food is not even a patch on food in Chandni Chowk. I have had mango lassi now at both the places. At Dilli Haat they charge twice a much for a very watery drink. For our next outing within the city, I think I am going to go out to Chandni Chowk with Chhavi.
I have always declared that I am not much into shopping. I have to qualify that statement now. I am not much into shopping unless I am in Thailand! It is a delight to shop there, be it in malls or at local markets. The night market at Chiang Mai was no different.
It is the combination of reasonable price and fashionable clothes that do the trick. I pride myself at not indulging in impulsive shopping. But in Thailand I failed at the first hurdle. I told myself I have more than enough clothes and I would not buy anything at the night market.
I failed spectacularly at the fridge magnet shop. It helped that my fellow blogger Manjulika was equally crazy about them. So, we could buy them in groups of five at discounted prices and hare among us. So much so for not buying impulsively!
I did resist buying these small baby shoes. They looked incredibly cute but I knew none of them would fit Chhavi.
I also like to roam around and click pictures of things that look interesting. I have seen ‘your name on a rice grain’ stalls in India too. But I was sold on the heart shape arrangement!
I was fascinated by these jute figures. I have not been able to capture the beauty in the picture. The man was weaving them sitting right there, making them into dragons and what not!
The market was quite big. It was my first day in Thailand and I was tired. I could explore only a small part it. In a way I am happy or I would have shopped more.
The markets are popular with locals and the tourists. Some bargaining is expected. Rounding off is a very common game. If a vendor says 120 I would say 100 and I guess it is expected. But I am quite poor at bargaining, have been all my life.
I almost stumbled with the dolls. But then Chhavi is more into outdoors than dolls. Hence I walked off only with the picture!
I met my nemesis at the clothes stall once again. I absolutely do not need any more clothes but I ended up buying two new t-shirts because of their beautiful prints, one has cherry blossoms and another a cute elephant. The good bit is that I wear them both!
The prices for the clips and not for the baby! The baby was quite oblivious to the surroundings! After roaming for about two hours, it was time to head to dinner and then back to the hotel, The Balcony in Chiang Mai. I was so looking forward to lying horizontally and go to sleep.
PS. I was invited by TAT New Delhi on this trip.
There is something about Paro that makes me calm. Maybe it is the size, it didn’t feel big. Maybe it is the number of houses which didn’t seem excessive. Maybe it is the mountains, maybe the small and charming market. But as soon as we started getting out of the airport I said to no one in particular, “now this is exactly what a doctor would order for the frayed city nerves.” After spending 3 nights at Paro, I have still not revised my opinion. It feels as if no one can strike a discordant note in Paro, Bhutan.
We stayed at the Naksel Resort which is away from the city. But then in Paro, even the city does not feel like city. My room at Naksel was huge and it had a balcony. The nights were so silent that I would leave a small light on in my room, even though I don’t get easily scared! The only hitch in the paradise? The rooms were at a sharp incline and it was a task to walk back after dinner! But it was good in a way, that way we could digest some of the awesome dinner we would gobble everyday!
The highlight of my trip was the climb to the Tiger’s Nest in Paro. If you are even mildly fit you have to attempt it. The walk is steeply uphill but the location of the monastery is amazing. It is perched on the top of a cliff almost floating up there in the clouds! I will surely like to walk this path again with my daughter one day.
The Naksel Resort organized an evening of traditional dances from Bhutan. But let me digress for a moment. At college, a colleague asked me to join the ‘Cultural Club’ as a mentor to which I asked her, “Ma’am do I look cultured to you in any way?” That is the truth about me. I miss out on all the finer aspects of dances and such. And yet it is always a pleasure to watch the traditional dances of a country even if I can understand and appreciate so little.
They called it a market! For me it was a small place to wander! There is more to the market than I could capture in one frame but it was a small, cozy place. But shopping in Bhutan is expensive. As it has a restriction of USD 250 per person per night on tourists from many countries (but not India), the shopping reflects this. But then who wants to shop when one can roam around and click beautiful pictures! The shops had ornately beautiful windows too!
As we were staying away from the city, I could never walk next to the Paro River. It is on my agenda. I also could see the Rinpung Monastery from a distance. But then I have to simply find a way to go back to Bhutan! I am completely smitten by it. I am sure if tranquility had an address it would be Paro!
PS. I was invited by Makemytrip to visit Bhutan and I so thankful that I could easily take leaves and go!
Aranyaprathet is one of the Thailand-Cambodian Borders. The next day we were headed to Cambodia by road after crossing the border. When I got down at Aranyaprathet’s Ban Khlong Luek Border Market (also known as Rong Kluea) I had just woken up from a nap in the van. For the while I looked at the place with bleary eyes. Initially it looked a bit empty and forlorn. But first looks, particularly on bleary eyes can be really deceptive.
The market is actually very colorful and has some eye popping displays, like pink eggs! I mean pink eggs for heaven’s sake! The entire street where they sell vegetables and meat is a riot of colors.
Pink Eggs, Rong Kluea Border Market, Thailand
How can you feel sleepy after seeing pink eggs being sold in the market from a corner shop? I was wide awake and clicking after I saw them. What are they, why are they pink? Here are some folks discussing the phenomenon of the pink eggs in Thailand and here is someone cooking them too! From inside they are black, I had them for breakfast after coming back from Cambodia at Dusit Thai, my hotel in Bangkok.
A Girl with Her Mother around Their Shop at Rong Kluea Border Market, Thailand
The place also sells clothes. I bought two pretty skirts for my daughter and niece. I strolled around the market for a couple of hours. It is a great place to do street photography as well. The shopkeepers have their kids around, who play near their shops. I loved the three tails the mother made for this little kid’s hair. Now if only Chhavi would let me do that. She likes her hair running wild and loose and any attempts at pins and hairband succeed only for about 10 minutes!
Lotus Stem for Sale, Rong Kluea Border Market, Thailand
Talking of colors, there were these delicately colored lotus stem for sale. The market has a large non-vegetarian section, no not really a section but intermingling of both veg and non-veg products. So, if you are a vegetarian (like me) and uncomfortable with display of raw meat, you have been warned. The first time I went to this section, I ran away after a few minutes. However I came back again and clicked whatever I wanted and ignored what I could not stand.
That Beautiful Smile, Rong Kluea Border Market, Thailand
I am quite afraid of clicking people for the fear of offending them. However, so much was happening at this market that no one paid any attention to me or my camera. That was good for me, I could click a few pictures without really being nervous. When I saw her beaming smile on my camera display later, I realized why people get so addicted to street photography!
To Quench Your Thirst, Rong Kluea Border Market, Thailand
The weather was quite humid (like most of Southeast Asia) and these colorful bottles were quite inviting. I am not a big fan of soft drinks so I did give them a miss. I was content by bring home just the picture.
Out Shopping, Rong Kluea Border Market, Thailand
At this market I realized one thing about street photography. If you stand in a corner with your camera and let the world go by, they hardly take any notice of you! I was not very far away from the people I was photographing, but as they were moving and I was stationary in a corner they hardly paid any attention to me. Gives me hope for trying out more street photography. And for the record I was using a 50mm prime lens.
Chilling Out, Rong Kluea Border Market, Thailand
These young girls were aware that I was clicking their picture. They said something in their language which sounded like- here comes another stupid tourist! But they did giggle and tolerated me and my camera!
Shrimps for Sale, Rong Kluea Border Market, Thailand
The best I could do with non-veg was this lot of shrimp (I hope they are shrimps) and unlike the eggs I have no clue why these are blue. They just looked pretty to me. I still run away at the sight of red meat and I think it will take me a long time overcome that aversion, if I can ever do that!
I Have My Own Purse Too, Rong Kluea Border Market, Thailand
As the sun started casting long shadows it was time to head to the hotel. I came in bleary eyed but I left quite wide eyed with memory of bright colors, colorful outfits and beaming faces. I will always remember Rong Kluea Border Market as the first place where I got comfortable with street photography.