In the market for street eats in Chiang Mai
No trip to Thailand is complete without a visit (or two… or three… ) to its markets. Chiang Mai is well known for its Night Bazaar – but although it enchanted me on a brief trip there eight years ago, this time around I found it horribly touristy and only did a perfunctory walk-through. If you’re after generic souvenirs and rip-off T-shirts, it’s fine, but otherwise you’re much better off at one of the weekend markets which cater to locals as well as tourists. As I was desperately craving sleep when I arrived in Chiang Mai a few Saturdays ago (I’m now in Laos, so I’m a bit behind with the blog posts!) I only managed to get to the Sunday evening one that starts at Tha Pae gate and runs for several blocks and off into the side streets. Being a bit of an eager beaver, I got there as it was just kicking off at around 5pm, but I was glad I did so as it got ridiculously crowded towards 9pm when I was trying to head home. There are all manner of stalls selling handmade and one-off items such as jewellery, novelty soap, textiles, young designer clothing, paper parasols and ceramics, making it great for browsing, and there are food stalls every few metres, plus several open-air food markets with the biggest at Tha Pae gate and then several quieter ones off the main drag and in temple grounds. Here are a few shots I took over the course of the evening (I didn’t get many of the non-food stalls because there were “no photo” signs at several and I thought snapping away at handmade goods might not be appreciated).
Possibly the most popular stallholder, hardly even visible behind her wares. Can you see her?
Here’s a better shot – this tiny old lady makes all these bamboo decorations by hand and sells them from her wheelchair. I didn’t even realise there was someone sitting there until I got closer. Lucky for me I saw her early on in the evening because when I walked past her later she was practically being mobbed!
Every time I visit Asia I discover at least one fruit or vegetable that I’ve never heard of – this time was no exception. Gacfruit looks like a plastic decorative fruit but tastes kind of like a mix of tomato and citrus juice. I’m not sure about the claims that this fruit can stop the increase of HIV but it does seem pretty healthy.
Who knows why but this mountain of durian didn’t seem to smell at all (the signs all over Asia prohibiting durian from being carried on to any public transport or into public places always make me laugh. Whenever my dad used to eat it at home we would send him outside and no one except the dog would go near him.).
There’s plenty less prickly food available such as sausages which seem to be mainly rice with some spiced pork added – I tried a few over the course of my stay as they are everywhere in Chiang Mai and only cost about 10 baht (maybe 40 cents?). And another snack that’s perfect for any time of day – mango with sticky rice. I went for the organic black sticky rice because I assumed it would be healthier .. oh, the irony of choosing the “healthy” version of something that’s served with sweetened coconut milk!