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.
In all my visits to Bangkok (four and hoping for more) I never really tried street food, which was a pity. Bangkok and Thailand have such a varied street food culture and I was staying away from it! But I visited the Chinatown Bangkok which is on the Yaowarat Street and the record was set right! The plan was to roam around and eventually have dinner there.
Our first stop was the Kuan Yin Shrine which is a Chinese Temple. As you can see red was the dominant color around. I picked a particularly quiet moment to click the picture, there were quite a few people around, offering their prayers.
The idea was to explore Bangkok by night and see what it offered. So we explored Yaowarat Street area which is the Chinatown and Pak Klong Talat which is the largest 24 hour flower market in Bangkok. Both are colorful places.
So how did I fare as a vegetarian? I actually did fine. One of the first things that I could try were vegetable spring rolls. And they were good.
I tried the famous Durian for the first time on this walk. I read so much about it, I saw notices in front of hotels saying ‘no Durian allowed’ but I thought the fruit was alright. Maybe the famed smell which bars its presence from many hotels kicks in after a few days? I could eat the fruit without holding my nose.
But I could venture only to take a picture of fried grasshoppers (extreme right) and other insects which are sold as food!
The food market is a night market. You can see some vendors put the chairs right by the road. It was a lot of fun walking around and eating things! I was told that there are days when Chinese eat only vegetarian food due to religious reasons and the street market sell a lot more variety.
But the most fun was watching food being cooked while we waited for it to arrive to our table. And nothing was on fire, this is how they cook food on the Yaowarat Street! The flames would go really high when they put vegetables on the frying pan. I was constantly told to take care and not become too engrossed in taking pictures, or my hair might catch fire!
After food it was time to head to Bangkok’s biggest flower market Pak Khlong Talat but then I have already written about it, you just need to click the link to see it. It was a beautiful night out for me in Bangkok and it was my first proper introduction to street food and Durian!
I was invited by TAT New Delhi to visit Thailand and I had an amazing time.
After the glittering dance performance (about which you can read here) at Siem Reap we were dropped back to our hotel, Sokha Angkor Resort which is a mighty fine hotel. It was surely not beyond 9.00 pm. We had just one night at Siem Reap so we wanted to cram in as much as we could. A group of us decided to head out to the Pub Street. The Night Market is right next to it. Bargaining is the way of life in Siem Reap too.
So, we found a tuk tuk guy who would take 5 of us for USD 5. It was a short ride from Sokha to the Pub Street. All prices are quoted in USD and they expect to be paid in USD. If you want they will quote a Bhat price for you as well. I never used the local currency Riel in Siem Reap, in fact I never converted the USDs to Riel.
A Scene from the Pub Street, Siem Reap, Cambodia
As the name suggest people go the Pub Street to go to a pub. I went there to take a stroll. I was not in any mood for alcohol, for me it was more important that I managed to get up at 4.30 am the next day to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat. The atmosphere at the Pub Street was lively and some of the bars played high voltage music too.
Pub Street, Siem Reap, Cambodia
It was a colorful place, full of energy but you go there to visit a pub, which was not on my agenda this time. After walking up and down for the entire length (which is not much) we decided to head to the night market. The night market is adjacent to the Pub Street so it is easy to cover both the places at one go.
Handmade Soaps, Night Market, Siem Reap, Cambodia
The night market mainly had souvenir shops. I hardly do any souvenir shopping other than fridge magnets. That too I buy for others as Chhavi makes them disappear quite fast from our fridge. I do buy clothes for my daughter, nephews and niece. Other than that I am happy to click pictures of the colorful souvenirs on display. That way I bring them home too, in another way! So, this colorful display above was of homemade soaps. I don’t remember how much was the quoted price but I did think it was on the higher side. As I said, bargaining though is a way of life here as well.
Cycles as Souvenirs, Night Market, Siem Reap, Cambodia
The local population in Cambodia uses cycles a lot. They are available for hire for the tourists too. So they are an obvious choice of a souvenir to carry back, or in my case an obvious choice for a photograph.
Crystal Buddhas, Night Market, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Buddhism is the dominant religion in both Thailand and Cambodia. I was quite fascinated by the colorful crystal Buddhas for sale. Once again they made for a pretty picture.
All the photos clicked here are night shots. I used my Canon 50 mm prime lens without flash to click all these pictures. I did buy a dress for myself in the end from one of the shops at the Night Market. But I think I need to reduce my weight by a few kilograms to do any justice to that dress.
Around 11.00 pm I called it a day. Two of us went back to the hotel and the tuk tuk driver agreed to take us back for 2 dollars. It was 12.00 midnight before I could wind up everything and go to sleep. But I did get up the next day at 4.30 am to go and see the sunrise ( a video here) at Angkor Wat.
I am not much of a spa or pedicure, manicure person. I have never had a facial in my life till date. Thailand and Cambodia are full of massage parlors but I was not really looking for a massage. I have been to a few spas in the course of my travels but I really do not seek them out.
We had one night in Cambodia and after the official dinner hosted by Ministry of Tourism Cambodia, many of us decided to give the Pub Street and the Night Market a try.
The Pub Street, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Sankara (of the Be On the Road) was our unofficial guide, he has extensively traveled through South East Asia. Once we got to the pub street in various tuktuks, it was time to regroup and explore the area. Some of us found a watering hole quickly. Lakshmi and I decided to take a stroll. And then I spotted them, the fish massage tanks. Almost every shop had one! It went for 1 dollar for 10 minutes. In Siem Reap every shop will accept US Dollars.
The price was right, the amount of time was right but I am slightly phobic to all kind of animals. However there was not much to lose so I decided to give the fish foot massage or pedicure if you like, a try.
The Fish Spa Tank
There were two tanks. One had slightly bigger fish than what you can see in the picture above. The young boy who was handling the tank wiped out the water from the ledge of the big fish tank and I was all set.
As soon as I put my foot in the big fish tank I let out a big yelp of surprise. The boy came running and asked me to try the small fish tank instead! I was out of the big fish tank pond in less than 30 seconds. It was just not for me! I lasted less than 10 minutes at the small fish pond too. I can’t remember when I last giggled so much and drew such attention to myself! I usually do not like attracting attention, I guess it is a part of my Indian upbringing. But I screamed and giggled to my heart’s content. I was not even aware that Lakshmi was clicking my pictures!
A Giggling Me, Siem Reap, Cambodia
The whole pedicure experience went like this. I would gingerly lower one foot in the water tank, keeping the other on the wooden ledge. I would then start either giggling or yelping! I would pull out my foot within a few seconds of lowering it! This was repeated I don’t know how many times. At one point someone else put their hand down in the tank (the second photo) to show it was safe and I immediately came to my senses and clicked a picture. But when it was my turn, I gleefully created all kind of fuss. I didn’t like the tickling sensation the fish created. I tried my best to brave it but it was an utter flop as far as the pedicure was concerned! I hardly ever kept my feet in water!
In less than 10 minutes I decided this was not for me. It was fun trying, I had a gala time creating a ruckus and a riot (which I normally don’t do) but the actual fish pedicure is just not for me! While doing an internet search I also saw some health warnings but I am only passing it on to you. It is not the health warning that will deter me from trying it out the next time, if there is ever going to be a next time! The whole experience was a laugh riot and so much fun. But I don’t like that ticklish fishy sensation one bit!